Bishop of Coventry asks about lessons learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy

On 10th June 2019 the House of Lords heard repeated a statement by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:

Coventry171122 bThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I echo the praise that has already been given to the emergency services following both Barking and the Grenfell disaster. I welcome the Statement’s recognition of the power of community and its commitment to a new and stronger partnership between residents and those who serve them, for trust to rebuilt and, in particular, for the council to listen and the community to be heard.

The Minister will be aware of the recent report of the Bishop of Kensington, one of the faith leaders alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy. Will the Government encourage serious engagement with this thoughtful report arising out of his conversations with local residents, his identification of their sense of loss of agency and his inspiring call for a renewal of a properly local democratic culture? Does the Minister agree that this careful report shows how Grenfell has much to teach government and society as a whole about the reimagination of welfare, housing and community life—the kind of reimagination that will be necessary to effect the long-term social changes that Grenfell deserves as its legacy?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate for that contribution. I readily acknowledge the importance of faith institutions, both generally and specifically in relation to Grenfell, and the contribution of the Bishop of Kensington. I also reference the work done by Muslim Aid and the local mosque, which was also significant. Very often faith institutions are the most trusted and the most responsive. They are there on the spot, they are local, and they have been significant players, if I can use an inappropriate phrase, in relation to what is right about the response in Grenfell.

As the right reverend Prelate rightly said, the community is central to this and the planning to ensure that this kind of situation does not happen again has been greatly assisted by the faith organisations. We want to study what the Bishop of Kensington has put in his report and I know that the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Grenfell recovery will be engaged in that. He is right about the importance of democratic culture and community. It is a good way of putting it.


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