News 14 June 2017
Author: Rebecca Rose

GRM Exclusive: An interview with Peaky, the Grenfell local cut short on BBC News

14 June 2017

“They had the cheek to almost make people say thank you that we’re regenerating your block and then they didn’t put functional sprinklers in, or fire alarms … are you lost?”

After the horrific fire that has destroyed countless lives in West London in the early hours of this morning, you might have seen the below video clip of a BBC interview held at Grenfell tower doing the rounds on social media today. 


Before being cut off by the journalist, interviewee Peaky highlighted many of the questions other residents have for those at the top and put forward his suggestions as to why the fire was started. 

We spoke to Peaky, who has lived in the building opposite Grenfell for all of his life, and asked him to explain his perspective of events in better detail.

“I don’t have a specific theory on what happened, I’m not a conspiracy theorist but the amount of coincidences that have happened around the incident, like there’s been a question about this regeneration plan, in inverted commas, that’s happening to our area where they are apparently going to improve buildings in our area somehow,” he said, “However they spent an alleged £10 million pounds last year doing up that block that is on fire right now.

“There’s never been an incident like this ever, but they basically put flammable panels around the outside of the block which has quickly helped the fire to travel up the building. On top of that a few days ago people came round to the block, and they don’t do this often, but they came round to Grenfell to basically tell (the residents) there was a fire drill and this is what the fire drill is; stay in your homes if there’s a fire that’s not inside your own home, just keep your windows and your doors closed, this was a few days before this happened.

“This kind of thing never happens and they don’t do that, they just don’t do that kind of thing. On top of that Labour just won in this borough, they were the ones that wanted to stop this regeneration plan and the Conservatives were the ones who wanted it to carry on.

“In the eyes of the government, we are the poor immigrants that are leeching off taxpayers or whatever so if they just get rid of the block quickly and just put some luxury flats to bring some foreign investors in then it’s going to be much more profitable for the country.  

“It feels like they’ve been giving us this illusion for a long time. Everyone in the community already knows, we already have community meetings and we all know,that they are planning to demolish all the blocks. We know their intentions. But they keep giving us this facade like there’s options. You can either have your blocks regenerated or you can have your blocks knocked down. Then they do things like spend £10 million putting flammable panels on that building when the lifts in our building cost £60,000 to fix, and I’m telling you now, this is not an exaggeration. At least four out of seven days of the week at least one of the lifts in my block is definitely not working.

“I haven’t lived in any of the four other tower blocks in my area, but from what I know from my friends, it’s not much better. And they couldn’t afford to spend £60,000 fixing our lift?

“On top of that a child, a 10 year old, fell from the 18th floor of my tower block a few years ago and died, that didn’t even reach the newspapers. They didn’t even replace the windows.

“They think because its Kensington and Chelsea, because it’s the queens borough, just sweep it under the rug and its all fine. We can just say Notting Hill’s good at least and west London’s all accounted for then. They make a mockery out of it. They tried to say to me that the fire in Grenfell was caused by a fridge. A fridge malfunction. I don’t know if they mean an atomic fridge or a nuclear fridge I don’t know what they’re talking about. This is news reporters coming with leading questions, they’re talking to me like so do you know about the fridge and I’m like no, I definitely haven’t heard about a fridge. I was seeing a whole gass pipe on fire.

“These people at the top who own the tower blocks, they’re far too focused on money, that’s the main thing. This is not the only place where this situation has happened. I know a lot of different people in different areas of London that have gone through regeneration and what not and it’s a joke. Imagine in Grenfell tower they had the cheek to almost make people say thank you that we’re regenerating your block and then they didn’t put functional sprinklers in, or fire alarms, are you lost?

“Where did that money go? That’s what I wonder.

“There’s dysfunctional lifts and one staircase so if anything like that was so happen (in my block), its pretty much the same story.”

The frustration of Peaky, and the community he is representing, is very apparent from his words. His account paints a picture of the harsh reality of living under a government that constantly enforces cuts whilst voicing the struggle for those in poorer communities to get their voices heard. There’s a lot of questions to answer here, and a lot of drastic changes must happen to prevent anything as devastating as this happening again. 

Peaky can be found on twitter at @theRealPeaky