MP says councillors called Grenfell Tower area ‘little Africa’

A Labour MP has accused Kensington and Chelsea Council of racism

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Council officials described the Grenfell Tower area as “little Africa” and “full of people from the Tropics”, according to Labour MP Emma Dent Coad.

Speaking in the Commons, the politician accused Kensington and Chelsea Council of “either racism or snobbery, take your pick”, following the tragic fire that left 72 people dead.

“A senior council officer was told to go down to the site but refused. He said, 'It's like little Africa down there’,” Ms Dent Coad recounted.

“A senior officer regularly in front of others referred to my neighbours as 'mussies'.”

The MP for Kensington, who is also a councillor for the London borough, said the “attitude is hardly surprising”.

“A senior councillor about two years ago during a debate on refugee children said during his speech, ‘If we let these people in, we will have an Islamic caliphate in Kensington and Chelsea’,” she said.

The council said it will write to Ms Dent Coad to find out the details of the allegations, and will investigate them “urgently” if they can be substantiated.

In a statement, council leader Elizabeth Campbell said she hoped Ms Dent Coad would have reported her claims “at the time as both a local councillor and MP”.

Ms Campbell said efforts to rehouse the survivors are “nearly there”, with one household currently in a hotel and 184 now living in a permanent home.

Ms Dent Coad also said she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after the blaze nearly two years ago.

“As someone myself suffering from PTSD, but able to function and I know so many who cannot, I will on their behalf wear the scars of my own mental ill health with pride,” she said.

“We have 11,000 people affected to varying degrees by the Grenfell atrocity in our neighbourhood. Some have been helped but many have not.”

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