The Grenfell Tower inquiry must have the involvement of local residents to help its chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick understand the community, the Bishop of Kensington has urged.
The Rt Rev Dr Graham Tomlin said having local people at the heart of the inquiry would aid Sir Martin in appreciating the “dynamics” of the area.
At least 80 people died when a blaze devastated the 24-storey west London block in June, while hundreds more were left destitute and the bishop said there were concerns that retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin would not understand the “experience of life” on the Grenfell estate.
It has resulted in heated meetings between the inquiry team and in community in North Kensington (see videos above and below).
Bishop Tomlin said: “I want to see local people at the heart of the inquiry - not just on the outside but on the inside of it.
“It seems to me that the judge leading the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, needs the help of local people to help him understand the dynamics of the local area.”
The bishop said he hoped Sir Martin’s inquiry would provide “significant answers” within a year and would go further than just address the events of the fire to also examine “a wider range of issues - the decisions that were made by the council, by the tenant management organisation leading up to that night”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that if Sir Martin’s inquiry did not have the confidence of local people, any recommendations it made were unlikely to win support.
The bishop said: “People locally would want to see, at the heart of the inquiry, other people who understand our experience of life.
“I’m not saying that he won’t understand that, but I think that it’s harder if you haven’t got people around you who actually do understand that, which is why I’m suggesting that he will be helped in his work - his very important work - by having close involvement with people who do represent the local community.”
Some in the community were still “very angry” about what happened and the response, he said.
Bishop Tomlin added: “I feel a lot of frustration on behalf of many people, because I feel that there is a lot of people who are still struggling, still trying to work out answers.
“I have seen extraordinary dignity and wisdom and restraint from many people, others are very angry.
“There’s a mixture of emotions which is why we need to continue to apply every bit of imagination and effort to that job.”
More than 400 submissions were made to a consultation on the scope of Sir Martin’s inquiry which closed on Friday.
Survivors, bereaved families and other involved parties have spent the past few weeks making their case about what the remit of the forthcoming probe should be.
Sir Martin is now tasked with writing to the Prime Minister with recommendations for the inquiry’s terms of reference.
It is understood he may use his correspondence to recommend the government consider broader questions about social housing separately.
It will then be up to Theresa May to decide what questions the inquiry should seek to answer, which she is expected to do thereafter.
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