After Carnival remember Grenfell

By sun-up next Tuesday our attention must shift from Carnival "Play Mas" to the drama that unfolded in the sky.

The Grenfell tragedy in June cast harsh light on London's dwindling low-income housing.

Failed investment is the culprit.

  • Uncaring housing managers and errant architects and planners are accomplices.
  • Irresponsible builders and developers are part of the problem.
  • The real estate boom and gentrification wreak havoc.
  • The shrinking welfare state has cut neighbourhood social services.

Critics fear these trends herald the “social cleansing” of the peoples of Britain’s capital.

Of course, there are many problems with local authorities – in particular, they stubbornly ignore responsibility to face the facts. At least one-fifth of Londoners are badly educated, badly housed and have the greatest need. And it is the councils' statutory duty to provide housing opportunities for them.

Therefore, it is “only right” said carnival officials, “to reflect the “biggest tragedy ever”. We need to pursue “ongoing demands for housing and full justice, in the creative spirit of Carnival.”  "Participate, don't just spectate", said Ricky Belgrave, chair of BASS the carnival's static music systems.

When people put the “we” into solving the Grenfell equation, council housing has the chance to be a bastion of equality. And now is the time to prove it. New motives and new moves toward  change must be advanced.

  • Time for repeals, reforms and radical shifts in urban planning policies
  • Time to deliver better council housing results via tenant-led organisations
  • Time to learn from flawed urban history and its discontents
  • Time to end “blaming the victims” of social inequalities

Indeed, it is time to plan for public housing that is liveable, safe and really social.

*Thomas L Blair is an award-winning author and sociologist and contributor to He is celebrating his 20th-year (1997-2017) of publishing the on Black people in Britain and Afro-Europe