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Grenfell inquiry: Disabled activists challenge government

Georgie Holmy told NationalWorld the government’s decision not to implement evacuation plans was “disrespectful” for those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Disabled activists have obtained permission from the Supreme Court to challenge the government’s failure to implement eviction recommendations made after Grenfell.

Georgie Holme and Sarah Rainey, founders of Claddag Group to work with rental owners, initially initiated legal action against the government to ensure that people with disabilities could be safely evicted from high-rise blocks of apartments in the event of an emergency.

It came after the Home Office and then Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed in April that they would not offer Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) to residents who might find it difficult to “self-evacuate”, despite advice given in the Grenfell Tower investigation. . The decision was made on the basis of ‘practicability’, ‘proportionality’ and ‘safety’.

Sarah Rainey (left) and Georgie Holme (right) are taking legal action against the government for failing to implement evacuation plans after the Grenfell Tower fire.

But the Supreme Court has now given Claddag permission to seek judicial review against the decision, telling the group’s founders, who are both wheelchair users, that they have a “disputable” case.

Ms Holme, 43, told NationalWorld: “This provides us with an opportunity to fully hold the government accountable. The decision that has been made is beyond disgraceful. It is not only discriminatory but also disrespectful to those who died, survived and bereavement due to the Grenfell Tower fire.”

“It shows that those who need support for emergency evacuation are considered of the least value.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Grenfell Tower fire tragically killed 72 people in June 2017. Credit: Getty Images

Mrs. Rainey, 36, lives in a tower in Birmingham. When she bought her apartment, she was told that the lifts were built to firefighting standards and could be used for evacuation. But after Grenfell, it was revealed that her building had unsafe livery – and the elevators weren’t safe to use.

She concluded: “Our homes are death traps.”

Meanwhile, Ms Holme, who has chronic pain syndrome, Erlens syndrome and Tourette syndrome as adults, lives in a mid-rise apartment building in Manchester. The building has fire safety issues related to poor cladding, balconies, and cabins.

Claddag is taking legal action against the government to ensure that all persons with disabilities have the right to personal emergency evacuation plans.

She said the stress of the situation, and constant talk of a situation being too “terrifying” for the disabled residents, had a detrimental effect on her mental and physical health. This meant she had to increase her medication, go to additional health appointments, and attend specialist treatment.

The duo’s campaign, which saw them attend meetings with councils, the fire and rescue services, and the government (in advisory workshops), is starting to have its effects.

Ms Holm explained: “Being disabled means you have to fight for everything. This fight is just proof that the government doesn’t care, [because] We are not seen as “productive” members of societies.

“It took a devastating fire with so many lives lost to show this all up. More than five years after Grenfell, people still have to fight for the right to equal fire safety. It should never have come to this” .

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Grenfell Tower fire tragically killed 72 people in June 2017. Credit: Getty Images

The Home Office previously told NationalWorld: “The Grenfell Tower tragedy must never be allowed to happen again. The Department of Settlement, Housing and Communities has apologized for its past failures in its oversight of building safety – and continues to support the investigation during its investigations to help get to the truth.”

Our motorcycle repairs We will go further than ever to protect vulnerable people as we are determined to improve the safety of residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised.”

The spokesperson continued, “Our response to consultation on Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) illustrates the fundamental difficulties of mandating PEEPs in high-rise apartment buildings, particularly with regard to practicality, proportionality and safety.”

Ms Holme told the NationalWorld that being disabled means “you have to fight for everything”.

However, Ms Rainey argued that the only way to achieve ‘safety’ was through evacuation plans – and said she had shown that creating PEEPs was entirely achievable. When she discovered safety issues in her building, the 36-year-old was able to obtain an evacuation chair (and hire a trained personal assistant) which would enable her to escape her home if there was an emergency.

“I created this plan myself, so it proved possible,” she commented.

Ms Hulme also added that it was a painful thing for their lives “to be discussed as out of proportion to something like an evacuation chair”.

Sarah Rainey, who uses a wheelchair, has developed her own fire evacuation plan.

The judge who heard Claddagh’s application also limited the group’s legal fees, as the case was deemed one of “public interest.” This means that if they lose the case, they will only have to pay the Home Office legal fees up to £20,000.

Given that this is still a significant number, they are crowdfunding To collect the rest of the money Before the court date – which is expected to be by the end of the year.

“We hope that this battle will finally be over and that we will be victorious,” Ms Holme said. “People with disabilities deserve to feel safe.”

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