A mother of three whose firefighter brother tackled the Grenfell Tower fire is fighting to be allowed to stay in a flat where they grew up which is close to the scene of the disaster.
Emma Spinola is challenging Kensington and Chelsea Council, arguing that she has the right to live in the three-bedroom home where she grew up with firefighter Mark.
Her home is on Barandon Walk, where former residents include England international and Queens Park Rangers director of football Les Ferdinand.
Residents were evacuated from their homes in the walkway on the night of the blaze and some of them have not felt able to return yet.
The council has asked Barandon Walk residents who “feel able to return home” to come back by the end of September or it will look for homes for them elsewhere. According to a council report “continuing to have a large number of empty properties in the Walkways … does not support recovery within the community”.
Unlike some other residents who are unwilling to return because they find it too painful after the fatal fire Ms Spinola, whose children are 17, three and two, wants to stay in the neighbourhood where she grew up. Her parents Noel and Dorothy moved to Barandon Walk in 1982.
The 41-year-old said: “Dad was the sole tenant. Mum died before Dad so he had possession.”
After her father’s death in October 2016 the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) asked her to move out. The case was taken over by Kensington and Chelsea Council after the TMO’s work was handed back to the council because of the fire.
Her case has been taken up by a solicitor and the next hearing is at Willesden County Court in October.
She lived in the family flat from 1982 until 2003, returning in 2013. Two years later she moved into the next-door three-bedrom flat but moved back in January 2016 because of her father’s ill health. She was evacuated after the fire and lived in a hotel in Victoria from July 2017 until February this year.
She suffers from health issues including back and leg problems and anxiety and said the bathroom and toilet in the flat were adapted for her.
“This is my home. I can’t believe that the council want to go on with this. There are a lot of people who don’t want to come back here and I want to be here,” she said.
“I am on the housing list anyway. The council is going to have to find me a property suited to my needs.”
She added: “I keep saying to them I just want to rebuild my life. I want to get my children settled and live my life. I actually feel this is home.
“I don’t want to start again with no network. I know all the people on the walkway. We look out for each other. Because it’s my community I feel safe.”
Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said: "If she wants to stay she should be allowed to stay."
A Kensington and Chelsea council spokesman said: “This case is currently under review and is being investigated further.”