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Public Inquiry to examine council actions for London’s Grenfell fire

A public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire in London has begun with the aim to examine the cause of and response to the tragedy, however it is not addressing broader issues such as social housing policy.

The inquiry, led by retired Judge Martin Moore-Bick, was announced on Tuesday by the government to reveal the truth about the June 14 inferno that spread with terrifying speed and killed at least 80 people.

“It is vital that there is justice for the victims of this appalling tragedy and for their families who have suffered so terribly,” Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said.

The inquiry’s terms of reference were published on Tuesday. They will examine the cause and spread of the fire, the design, construction and refurbishment of the tower, fire regulations relating to high-rise buildings, whether they were complied with at Grenfell Tower, and the actions of the authorities before and after the tragedy.

May said, “The terms of reference set out by Sir Martin address crucial issues such as the cause of the fire and the adequacy of building and fire regulations, which will allow the inquiry to get to the truth of what happened and learn the lessons to stop a similar catastrophe happening in the future.”

“I am determined that the broader questions raised by this fire – including around social housing – are not left unanswered,” she emphasized.

The inside of the Grenfell Tower in west London, after a fire engulfed the 24-story building on June 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

According to Moore-Bick, the inquiry would not consider broader issues such as social housing policy and the relationship between the community and the authorities, although many local people had requested for it.

May also announced that Housing Minister Alok Sharma will meet social housing tenants to discuss the challenges they face.

Last month, a number of the survivors of the fire wrote a letter to the prime minister with respect to the inquiry and a list of demands, including that Moore-Bick should be removed  as head of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

The former court of appeals judge, intends to hold a preliminary hearing on September 14 with an initial report dealing with the cause of the fire and its spread by Easter next year.  The terms of reference were determined following consideration of more than 550 submissions.

On Monday, hundreds of people took to the streets in London to demand justice for victims of the Grenfell block fire. The demonstrators marched silently through the streets surrounding the charred tower in West London.

The protesters, some of them walking with crutches or riding wheelchairs, joined 16 residents’ associations throughout the Kensington borough in voicing distrust for the company that managed Grenfell Tower.

People take part in a silent march in memory of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London on August 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Two months after the incident, housing remains a serious issue for some 200 survivors.

May promised after the incident that she would provide housing to all victims in the neighboring areas over three weeks. However, she failed as still many survivors were holed up in their hotel rooms.

London police confirmed in late June that the exact number of people killed in the inferno would remain unknown until at least the end of this year.

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