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tv   BBC News  BBC News  June 18, 2017 2:00pm-2:31pm BST

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afternoon shower or thunderstorm, the vast majority will stay dry. those temperatures, if anything, may get higher, maybe up to 33 degrees. the headlines at 2pm: government staff are being drafted in to manage the response to the grenfell tower fire following fierce criticism. the chancellor philip hammond says he is fully committed to the inquiry. the commitment the government should make andi the commitment the government should make and i will make it now is that when the enquiry produces its findings, andi when the enquiry produces its findings, and i do not mean in yea rs‘ findings, and i do not mean in years‘ time because we will ask them to produce interim findings, when the enquiry produces findings, we will act on them. church services take place across the country to remember those affected by the blaze. the queen‘s speech to parliament next year is to be cancelled to allow mps more time to scrutinise brexit legislation. at least 62 people are killed in a forest fire in central portugal — officials says the death toll could rise. claims of growing inequality across britain — a new report says the gap between rich and poor is getting wider. good afternoon and
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welcome to bbc news. the government says it is drafting in a team of civil servants to help improve the official response to the grenfell tower fire, amid mounting anger over the lack of help being provided to victims. many residents have said they‘ve received little or no assistance from kensington and chelsea borough council, although the authority has insisted it‘s committed to supporting anyone affected. church services are being held today to remember the victims of the blaze, as simon jones reports. after the shock and the grief, today, a moment of reflection — church services to mark the lives lost and the many missing, presumed dead. that anger remains palpable. the difficulty is people are now finding out who has died and that will be enormous grief
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as well as enormous anger. i think you will see a whole different kind of atmosphere because people... the deaths are now real. many churches opened their doors in the hours after the tragedy, offering shelter and collecting donations, but people are asking, "why did they need to step in? where was the government, the local council? why didn‘t they do more?" one conservative councillor from kensington and chelsea admits things have gone badly wrong. from what i can see, we have been caught off—guard. underground, people were quick to organise themselves. it has been kind of a disgraceful slow, limp, if i can put it like that. the prime minister accepts that in the hours after the disaster, the support for families was not good enough. now extra government staff are being drafted in to work with the council.
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it follows a meeting between the local people and theresa may in which they were keen to have their voices heard. things are finally moving forward and the government and the council are being proactive. i think sadly it took a long time to get them up and running and if it wasn‘t for other centres, none of this would have been done. we are lucky we have so many bright, important, smart people in the area. the home office is making arrangements for the family of one of those who died, mohammad alhajali, to travel from syria to the uk for his funeral. he was killed when he was separated from his brother. his life, one of many remembered today. i think there will be a special sense of grieving, sadness, in the churches today, as people remember what has happened and people are still homeless as well, but i think also there will be a note of hope. the painstaking investigation is continuing, but the warning from police is there will be
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no quick answers. one of the church services today is taking place at notting hill‘s methodist church which is close to the site of the fire. among the guests, the mayor of london. that is right. he has been visiting a church nearby and has been talking to reporters outside. trying to calm people down but there are still many concerns and we have a volunteer and a former councillor. my name is des o'neill. i am tim burke. used to be a counsellor here. what is your thoughts on the response to this crisis? there is understandably a
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lot of anger but my main concern is the sensitivity and the humanity of the sensitivity and the humanity of the care of the people who survived this, how are they being cared for? ina this, how are they being cared for? in a sensitive way after this unprecedented tragedy. as a former councillor yourself, familiar with the process than most of us are. what do you think is going on and how do you think the councillors have been dealing with this?|j how do you think the councillors have been dealing with this? i am assured they are doing their best but there does appear to be a lack ofa but there does appear to be a lack of a visible presence of support on the ground from the local council and particularly from senior councillors. what do you think needs to happen now? i think the families, the survivors, i am not sure where they are staying, i have heard it is ina they are staying, i have heard it is in a travel lodge, but that does not sound that sensitive. we need to look at immediately rehousing the
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families that are here, this needs to be immediate action, people have children that are attending local schools, they have lost everything. the immediate action has to be with the families, the care of the families and the people who survived. how long have you been on the scene here? i arrived at eight o'clock on disaster day and there was no presence fi’oiti o'clock on disaster day and there was no presence from the council and it has led me to the conclusion that the deputy leader of the council and the deputy leader of the council and the chief executive really should be suspended now. or so per head of the pmo needs to stand down because these guys have proved themselves not capable. we will hear from them shortly, but in a word, what needs to be done right now? right now we need to have an inquest, we also
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need to have an inquest, we also need to have an inquest, we also need to learn lessons and also we need to learn lessons and also we need some resignations. people have to take responsibility now. the council have behave shockingly, they did not deliver, they still do not get it. they have gone very legal, insurance sensitive and this is a disaster and it deserved better. thank you for sharing your thoughts andi thank you for sharing your thoughts and i am sure the council will respond to them in their own time. mark was referring to the church service and steve khan has been speaking to reporters. it has been humbling for me to shared the service this morning and spent time with the local community. notjust the christian congregation but members of all faiths here at the
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church grieving, sharing their stories and i have to say, some of the stories i have heard will stay with me for ever. i have heard stories of heroism, from christians, muslims and others, looking after their brothers and sisters, neighbours and doing thejob their brothers and sisters, neighbours and doing the job that we expect from this brilliant community because of the fantastic community thatis because of the fantastic community that is here in this part of london. north kensington is resilient, the people i have met today and over the last few days have shown their resilience. they have shown a community coming together to grieve but also a community frustrated and angry, not simply at the poor response in the days after from the council and the government, but the yea rs of council and the government, but the years of neglect from the council and successive governments. everything feeding from the
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community that they have been treated badly because some of them are poor, some of them may have come from deprived backgrounds, some are refugees. there is a feeling that the council does not understand their concerns and do not care and to those who think rules, regulations, health and safety, investment are a bad thing, i say come to grenfell tower, come and meet the wonderful people i have met and those who have lost their lives. it was an accident that did need —— did not need to happen and is a consequence of neglect from petitions and the government. can i thank the church for the amazing work they have been doing, many in the congregation including the vicar and others have hardly slept from 3am on the night of the fire helping their neighbours, collecting things, providing a hug, a safe space for
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people to come together. it is important we help them. one of the things we must do is support those families who have lost their homes and we must do we help those who are grieving. we must make sure we learned the lessons and make sure it is not so hard for people who need help to find help. i will do my bit to be the advocate, a fighter and champion of these people. that is sadiq khan. with me is the leader of kensington and chelsea council. when did you ask for help? right at the beginning we were quite aware that this was a huge enormity. by the timei this was a huge enormity. by the time i got therejust this was a huge enormity. by the time i got there just after 3:30am on wednesday, no one local authority would be able to cope with the enormous challenges that are now facing a huge number of displaced residents. we have spoken to the
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department for communities and local government, the prime minister and that help us been offered, there has been a goal structure, a team working on the news people have and those change as time goes by. we need to make sure we have that. i have been out this morning at the westway sports centre. i am told the council is never in evidence, but was not my perception. white is it the perception of so many residents? it has been a traumatic week for people living nearby. it does take time in any situation to get emergency lines, contact points up and running and there is a huge community sector in north kensington doing wonderful work but we need to bring that together, we need to think long term about the people affected and their housing needs. we had one of the things the prime
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minister is proposing was that there should be people in high fears so people could see who they are and we see today, there were indeed people visibly from the local authority close to the methodist church. had you held back from doing that because of concern that your staff might become a target if they advertise their presence rather than working discreetly to try and win things together? no. council officers have been on the site, we had three emergency services setup on wednesday morning which provided immediate support. why do people think that was not the case? possibly because officials are not identifiable. what i want is experts on the ground, people who can help traumatised residents, traumatise children, people who have lost
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relatives and whether they are wearing a high visibilityjacket, or from a community group or council is immaterial. kensington and chelsea council officials have been working around the clock since wednesday and i have, or nearto around the clock since wednesday and i have, or near to support the work they have been doing. we will look at all the challenges but to save the local authority is not president and not working together with other councils is inaccurate. you heard an interview there are concerns about the role of the tenant management organisation. people understand this is effectively kensington and chelsea handing over responsibility but obviously has residual responsibility for the welfare of his residence. do you think they‘re tmo has behaved correctly and do you understand the course for people to step aside from that?|j
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understand the course for people to step aside from that? i understand the concerns and anger of people in north kensington and more widely about the events leading up to this fire. i shared that anger, the council is wanting to know why that fire started, why gets spread. my immediate concern is to ensure the right support services for some very vulnerable people are on the ground. i have been out this morning to check they are and am satisfied that they are, but this is a long—term requirement. the of the tmo, the way blocks are managed, those are proper questions but those are questions for the enquiry which will be set up to investigate this fire. in the light of that what assurance can you offer about council documentation or material being held concerned with g re nfell tower? material being held concerned with grenfell tower? i have not given any thought to it but there is no reason why any documentation relating to the refurbishment of the tower will
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not be made available. would you say to the chief executive, all this stuff is accounted for, does not goes missing. mistakes are made, people lose stuff but now is the time to identify it. that is right and it is worth going back to say that the aspiration of the tmo is to refurbish some poor quality housing. nobody was looking for an appalling tragedy that we witnessed this week. what we were trying to do was improve a block of flats that was cold in their winter, had poor heating systems and needed improving. improvements with people still living in residence is difficult. but they‘re tmo worked through that with the tenants. there
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have then a lot of criticisms of the tmo over a period of time. when you are in the business of managing people‘s housing you at the rubbing edge of things which cause disruption, uncertainty, unhappiness, but london‘s housing stock is getting old, it needs to be refurbished or replace, that is what the council is committed to, we need to work with the tmo bring about. this awful tragedy has overwritten everything else and has underlined how important it is to get renovation, refurbishment, regeneration right across london. this has been an awful tragedy for kensington and chelsea but it raises a number of issues about towers and the way housing has been designed in the way housing has been designed in the last 50 or 60 years. those questions will involve notjust you as an individual borough that
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councils around london, the mayor, local government, local authorities all over the country. it must be very difficult for people to get a good night‘s sleep this week if they live in a loving of that kind and what they hear is, wait, be patient, and actually when it is your children and your family, you and actually when it is your children and yourfamily, you are not going to be patient. we saw some of that anger on friday. not going to be patient. we saw some of that anger on fridaylj understand the concerns people living in high rise buildings have. the london fire service are expecting —— inspecting high—rise buildings. over the longer term there is a real challenge about how estates of the —— are regenerated. the cladding is another matter that needs to come out of the enquiry. people do not feel that is not
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responded immediately enough. people wa nt responded immediately enough. people want immediate reassurance of the safety of their block. if the fire service and make recommendations you will act on them? of course we will. we wa nt will act on them? of course we will. we want safe housing. there are people who say, what the council was worried about was the appearance of the buildings, it wanted to gentrified them because it wanted to attract improvement elsewhere and it looked an eyesore. that is not my understanding. this was a block of flats which date back to the early 19705. it was problematic because it was cold and residents said it was, it was too hot in the summer, the heating systems were inflexible and the opportunity to upgrade it and improve it without having to move residents out appeared to be an attractive way forward. quite rightly we will have to look into
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the cladding that was used but my understanding is to keep the flats properly energy—efficient and cool in the summerand properly energy—efficient and cool in the summer and warm in the winter. possibly know one considered the fire safety aspect of it. the council would expect that all regulatory standards are complied with. i am regulatory standards are complied with. iam not regulatory standards are complied with. i am not a fire regulation expert but i would anticipate that people designing cladding, making cladding, commissioning the use of cladding, commissioning the use of cladding would ensure that it was fire compliant. presumably you're building inspecting is looking at the work that was done. indeed. all inspections dashed all of that needs to be looked at. the council will wa nt to to be looked at. the council will want to give its evidence as it it —— from its perspective on the
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history of that refurbishment. we go back over a couple of years with the complaints we were talking about earlierfrom residents complaints we were talking about earlier from residents about the management of grenfell tower and a sense that the —— perhaps you have a non—for—profit organisation that ta kes non—for—profit organisation that takes responsibility that the council washes its hands of it and if residents do not think they are being listened to, that sense of frustration builds up. is there something you will look again at? not now but in time. i understand but all i would say is the tenant management organisation was set up 21 yea rs management organisation was set up 21 years ago at the request of the te na nts 21 years ago at the request of the tenants because the housing policy at that time was that housing stock should be handed over to associations or sold. tenants said
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they did not want that to happen, they did not want that to happen, they wanted to manage it themselves and it does give tenants and leaseholders the chance to elect a board, to hire their own professional advisers and to manage the stock in the way they think is appropriate. the council remains the freeholder of the stock so we need to be involved in major refurbishment. and ultimately you need to be responsible. the council is the freeholder of the property and we want to preserve and protect our housing stock but residents want to be more closely involved in the management of it, and that system had worked well up until this awful tragedy. there are times like these are sense that where something has gone wrong, where there has been a failure, somebody should take responsibility. have you given any thought to your own position, whether it will give some kind of signal that you are responsible for
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it and that you should resign? might immediate concern has been to ensure that we are able to support and provide support to some very distressed, honourable people, children who go to school tomorrow to find classmates are not there, elderly people whose first language is not english finding they have lost the person who gave them support. i am trying to make sure the right support systems are in place and that is my immediate focus. i want to know what went wrong with this refurbishment and i will be asking those questions. thank you. the chancellor has also been speaking about brexit this morning. he‘s insisted the government wants a seamless brexit so the uk can leave the eu and the customs union without what he called "cliff edges". the prime minister, theresa may, has always said that no deal is better than a bad deal with brussels. he also said he wanted to see a brexit which supports jobs and investment.
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when i talk about a brexit that talks supports british jobs, when i talk about a brexit that talks supports britishjobs, i mean a brexit that the voice cliff edges, that insures we segue seem silly from the customs union to a new arrangement that will allow british goods to flow notjust arrangement that will allow british goods to flow not just without tariffs, because tariffs are small pa rt tariffs, because tariffs are small part of the problem, it is without delays and bureaucracy. it is the delays and bureaucracy. it is the delays and bureaucracy interfering with the flow of fresh produce, we import huge amounts of fresh produce, we have to make sure our border continues to work seamlessly and that is the number one challenge for business. the shadow brexit secretary, keir starmer, says membership of the customs union should be one of the options considered by the government‘s negotiating team. mr starmer criticised the prime minister for leading the uk into the worst possible situation ahead of brexit talks.
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i think the prime minister has got us i think the prime minister has got us into a complete mess. she has got no mandate here and she has no authority abroad and negotiations start tomorrow. things have to change. her approach so far has only dated our allies in europe, it has weakened our position in the eu and got us to the worst possible starting position. let‘s talk to our political correspondent susana mendonsa, whojoins me live now from wesminster. intriguing cracks appearing to be visible in government position, makes it hard for david davis and his team when they go off for the talks tomorrow if not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. certainly. we have heard time and again theresa may talking about no deal being better than a bad deal and here we have the chancellor
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saying no deal would be a bad outcome for britain. that is not what we hear from some of the other members of the cabinet and we also heard philip hammond talk about some kind of structural transition so you would have a slope rather than a cliff edge. others have talked about going over the cliff edge as something not to be concerned about. differences there. another interesting thing we heard from the chancellor is his reaction to that election campaign which was supposed to strengthen theresa may‘s position but has instead weakened heart and philip hammond, he was not particularly involved in the campaign but we now find that was not the role he wanted for himself. he wanted to be more involved, talk about the positives of the economy and he felt that if the economy had
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been the focus, perhaps the result in that election would have been different. we will never know whether it would have made a difference but we have brexit negotiations tomorrow, keir starmer talking about how theresa may has put the country in a complete mess and so we go into those negotiations on the back foot. france is voting in the second and final round of the country‘s parliamentary elections today. president emmanuel macron‘s party la republique en marche, which was formed just over a year ago, is predicted to win up to three—quarters of the seats in the national assembly. let‘s get more now from our paris correspondent hugh schofield. it looked as though he was in pole position after last week‘s first round. what difference will be second round make apart from formally declaring the results? probably not a great deal. the candidate who is running against emmanuel macron‘s team said she does
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not expect to win, she more or less said her opponent will take it and it isa said her opponent will take it and it is a shame, she said, because i am from this area, but anyone who comes in with a ticket from emmanuel macron is winning. that will be the story of the day and that and a very high abstention. it does mean the opposition left and right has a very low expectations of today, but what this person was saying is that the worry will be there is a parliament though dominated by emmanuel macron that there will be no opposition and that there will be no opposition and thatis that there will be no opposition and that is not necessarily very good for democracy. it could mean that when emmanuel macron starts with his reforms, the opposition will not be in parliament but on the street with demonstrations. we will have to see but the big answer to your question
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is no one expects any major change and the result will hinge on whether it isa and the result will hinge on whether it is a wave in favour of macron or a tsunami. how quickly does he plan to use this mandate to introduce the sorts of reforms you were talking about, particularly to the labour market? that is the big one that he wa nts to market? that is the big one that he wants to get through by september. he will do it by decree which is controversial, but he has looked at the mandates of his two predecessors and decided he will not be like them, he believes you have to act quickly to do what you said you would do this reform of the labour system is the mother of all the reforms because he hopes it will unleash confidence, and optimism in the economic system which will unblock the problems which the country has. he wants to work pretty fast on that and have the labour
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reforms which are controversial on the statute by september. this is where we come into the old french problem, world that triggered the protests on the street, we will have to see. he came to power saying he would do this, he has a big mandate with his presidential vote and now this big majority in parliament. this kind of reform could not be better if not now, when? a forest fire in central portugal is believed to have killed 60 people. the blaze has spread through the centre of the country during an intense heatwave. nearly 600 firefighters and 160 vehicles have been dispatched to tackle it. many of those who died were trapped in their cars. our correspondent alison roberts reports. almost 700 men and women were still
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battling the blaze in central portugal while hundreds more fought fires elsewhere. dozens of fires had started on saturday amid hot, dry conditions but it is just one big blaze that has claimed so many lives. 30 people were found dead in their cars having tried to feed the flames. other deaths and injuries occurred along or near the same highway. translation: we were inside the house, the fire was all around us. the firefighters came to get us out because we could hardly breathe. the house must have burned for sure. officials were shaken by the deaths. the prime minister said it was the worst ever such tragedy in terms of lives lost. translation: this was a big tragedy. we have

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