Dear bereaved families, survivors, residents, and community partners
This Tuesday will mark the fifth year since the Grenfell Tower Fire.
In the most terrible circumstances imaginable, 72 people lost their lives on 14 June 2017 – 18 of them were children. It was a tragedy that should not have happened, and can never happen again.
The scale of the tragedy and the range of issues it has raised mean that the anniversary will be a significant and difficult day for many people in Kensington and Chelsea, in London, and right across the country as a whole.
The date will always belong to the bereaved, the survivors and the local community. I know that many dedicated and passionate community leaders across North Kensington and beyond are working tirelessly to organise a range of activities to mark the day. Your efforts are vital for keeping Grenfell at the forefront of all of our minds, ensuring we never forget.
I would like to thank everyone who has been involved, and for helping to bring people together at this difficult time. I know you do it not for thanks or praise, but for your community. A high standard of public service that we can all learn from.
Anniversaries are a time of reflection, and this is doubly true of an anniversary of such significance. For the Council, and specifically for me and my Leadership Team, it is vital that we reflect on the events at Grenfell Tower and the mistakes the Council made. Only by looking back can we learn the many lessons and make certain we remain focused on moving towards a more positive future.
We have rightly made admissions throughout the Public Inquiry in areas where we let our communities down. I know some people will feel these admissions do not go far enough and I respect that view, but we have kept our minds focused on our duty to candour and our commitment to the principles set out in the Hillsborough Charter.
I want you to know that I am deeply sorry for the Council’s failings and the suffering that so many people experienced at Grenfell and in the aftermath. As we look ahead, our most important priority is to rebuild the trust that was lost as a result of the mistakes we made.
The bereaved and survivors continue to show incredible strength, courage, and solidarity, as they search for truth and justice. I’ve always been humbled by their dignity and have tried to listen and learn from them throughout my time as leader.
In many conversations over the past five years, they have challenged us to make sure that the pain felt from that night and the tireless campaigning have not been in vain and that some good comes of the terrible events of 14th June. Specifically, they have set us the challenge of being the best Council – something I intend to strive personally towards every day and my Leadership Team are committed in doing whatever is needed to meet this challenge. We recognise that our borough and our Council will forever more be synonymous with Grenfell, but my hope is that we can build a fitting legacy from the tragedy that means something to people and ensures it is never forgotten.
There is much more work to do to achieve this, so Grenfell will remain a key priority for the Council. I look forward to many more conversations about this with our communities in the near future.
In the meantime, however you chose to mark the anniversary, my thoughts and best wishes will be with you.
Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council