Jeremy Corbyn and Labour leadership has proposed that the unused vacant homes owned by overseas investors in the wealthy areas of Kensington and Chelsea be utilized to house the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
“The ward where this fire took place is, I think, the poorest ward in the whole country and properties must be found — requisitioned if necessary — to make sure those residents do get rehoused locally,” the Labour leader said.
In contrast to the working-class neighborhood in which the fire occurred, Corbyn noted that the nearby “south part of Kensington is incredibly wealthy, its the wealthiest part of the whole country.”
Corbyn emphasized that it “can't be acceptable” for empty luxury buildings to sit empty while those who are homeless have nowhere to go after a fire that many say is a result of landlord negligence and political disregard for the safety of London's poor and working class.
Lots of homes left vacant in Kensington & Chelsea by overseas investors. I would like to see them requisitioned by Govnt to rehouse victims.— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) June 15, 2017
Labour MP David Lammy has called the fire “corporate manslaughter” for the role of landlord negligence.
“We should call it what it is, it's corporate manslaughter. That's what it is, and there should be arrests made, frankly. It is an outrage ... We built buildings in the 70s, those 70s buildings — many of them should be demolished. They haven't got easy fire escapes, they've got no sprinklers, it's totally, totally unacceptable in Britain that this is allowed to happen and people lose their lives in this way," Lammy said.
Lammy demanded that those responsible be “held to account.”
So far 17 deaths have been confirmed from the fire, although the number is expected to continue to rise as emergency workers continue to identify victims.
The fire has sparked widespread criticism, rage, and conversation surrounding the unsafe housing conditions in many of London's working-class neighborhoods.
Residents and tenants groups allegedly complained repeatedly about the risk of fire in the tower due to poor safety measures taken by landlords.
The building did not have a functioning sprinkler or alarm system, and many residents only woke up after hearing the shouts of people below.
According to a blog managed by the Grenfell Action Group, a tenants advocacy group representing the interests of renters in the area in which the fire occurred, there had been “numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower,” saying that all of the warnings “fell on deaf ears.”
A previous post on the organization's blog gave a condemning warning to the tower's landlords who they accused of “extreme complacency,” in 2015.
“Let's hope we won't have any serious fires on any of those estates because it appears that someone's death is possibly the only thing that might stir the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation,” the organization had said two years ago.
A bill had been proposed by Labour leadership last January that would have increased safety regulations on rented properties, however the bill was rejected by conservatives, many of whom themselves are landlords deriving a profit from property ownership.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who recent polls have shown to be hitting new lows of unpopularity, is facing condemnation by Grenfell Tower residents and on social media for not speaking with victims when she visited the tower.