An employee of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) called residents of the Grenfell Tower “antagonists” after they asked for an update regarding the tower’s refurbishment, the inquiry heard today.
In an internal email, Paul Dunkerton, a former project manager at KCTMO, labelled residents Edward Daffarn and Francis O’Connor the “main antagonists” on the Lancaster West Estate, which is where Grenfell Tower was situated, after Mr Daffarn asked for information about the project’s planning application.
When asked why he described the residents as “antagonists”, Mr Dunkerton said: “My choice of words wasn’t great, but they were more vocal than other residents or leaseholders in the tower.”
Before the Grenfell Tower fire, Mr Daffarn and Mr O’Connor regularly blogged about the building on behalf of the Grenfell Action Group.
Less than a year before the tragedy, the group warned in a blog post entitled KCTMO – Playing With Fire! that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord".
The inquiry was also shown today several letters sent to KCTMO by the Grenfell Tower Leaseholders Association (GTLA) complaining about issues including an “established lack of communication from the KCTMO”.
In one letter, the GTLA complained that Grenfell Tower tenants were informed that their fire doors needed upgrading following a fire risk assessment (FRA) 19 months before individual leaseholders were made aware of the issue.
The letter said: “The leaseholders from Grenfell Tower are not immune from fire risk. We find this matter inhuman on your behalf in relation to your lack of communication to leaseholders.”
When the GTLA asked KCTMO to confirm whether leaseholders needed to replace their current doors, Mr Dunkerton said a review of the FRA found that “none of the properties at Grenfell Tower are highlighted as having ‘potentially non-compliant’ entrance doors”.
He added: “It seems therefore that the doors currently installed provide sufficient fire resistance.”
The first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry found that faulty fire doors contributed to the spread of smoke and toxic gases through Grenfell Tower on the night of the fire.
The association also complained that KCTMO did not tell GTLA it had appointed Studio E as the architect for the refurbishment project.
In his witness statement for the inquiry, Mr Dunkerton said there was “heavy resident consultation” during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
Speaking today, he listed several consultation exercises that were undertaken, including newsletters, drop-in sessions and the setting up of a project room in the tower to display design proposals.
Mr Dunkerton said he did not know why a resident focus group was not set up, despite being originally planned by the TMO.
The inquiry continues.