A new taskforce that will head up the recovery from the Grenfell Tower disaster has been announced today, 26th July.
The independent Grenfell Recovery Taskforce will take over from Gold Command, which spearheaded the initial emergency recovery operations.
Working alongside RBKC council, the new team will move on to longer-term management of the ongoing recovery plans, including an identified need to re-establish trust within the local community.
Members of the new team include Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, and Chris Wood, partner at Altair housing consultancy and former director of housing for 3 London boroughs.
The initial report from the taskforce is expected by October 2017.
“I am determined that everything possible is done to support the local community following the disaster. This includes ensuring an effective recovery plan is developed that takes into account the views of the local community. The new Taskforce has extensive experience in this area and will provide the council with the expertise needed to deliver this important work,” said Communities Secretary Sajid Javeed.
Initially the taskforce has been asked to:
• look at whether RBKC has the proper arrangements in place to engage with the local community on their long-term recovery plans
• ensure that all the immediate housing needs resulting from the fires are fully and promptly addressed by RBKC
• support the council to significantly improve housing management including addressing weaknesses in the tenant management organisation
• make sure the council develops, in partnership with the local community, a plan for the Grenfell Tower site; and ensure that the right leadership and governance arrangements are in place across the council
The taskforce will be in place for as long as the Secretary of State considers necessary.
However Labour MPs have criticised the independent taskforce as not going far enough in taking over and restructuring services from a “failing” council.
“It can advise but it cannot act. It lacks the powers of decision or action that commissioners would bring. Public confidence in this council will just not be restored by replacing one set of leaders by politicians from the same ruling group,” said the shadow housing minister John Healey.
Shadow communities secretary, Andrew Gwynne, and the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, have previously called for ministers to appoint external commissioners to take over the running of the whole of RBKC council.
Meanwhile the newly-elected RBKC council leader, Conservative councillor Elizabeth Campbell, who takes over after the resignation of Nicholas Paget-Brown, has faced disapprobation from groups including Justice 4 Grenfell. The group and many other residents have not welcomed the appointment of a council leader who served on the council during the Grenfell crisis, and who many feel represents the status quo.