'No more scare tactics. No more division'
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Damon Albarn has spoken out against the gentrification of West London and called upon the government to ‘step up to its responsibilities’.
The Blur and Gorillaz frontman was speaking to Mark Mardell for Radio 4’s The World This Weekend yesterday, when he was asked about the blaze that ripped through Grenfell Tower – killing 79 residents, injuring scores more, and with a death toll expected to rise. Many artists and figures from the world of entertainment have paid tribute to those effected – with many even accusing the council and government of negligence. Residents have stated that their calls to improve fire safety were ignored.
“There is always a sense of horror these days when you get a news update,” said Albarn. “I was in Warsaw on Wednesday when I got wind from home that something truly horrific was unfolding. Only a stone’s throw from where I live and where I work. This time it was far more personal and close to my heart because I’ve been cycling past Grenfell most of my adult life.
“It’s always been one of those roads, where at one end you can hear the birds sing at dusk and at other kids hang outside the takeaway on their way to the football pitches under the Westway. It’s the kind of place that brought me to West London in the first place nearly 30 years ago, a place where there is real community, always evolving, always multi-cultural at its heart, a place that even before the Windrush generation had been a destination for new Londoners.”
Honouring those who died and calling for action to be taken, Albarn continued: “I can’t begin to imagine what horrors the residents of Grenfell have and are going through, all I can do is add a little more volume to voices that must now be listened to. During the last 30 years I have witnessed a brutal programme of gentrification around Ladbroke Grove. I’ve seen the way communities have been marginalised by greedy landlords and property developers and the way our successive governments have encouraged this dilution and some would say have broken their elected social contract with the people of London.
“What happened at Grenfell is still unfolding but this surely has to be the turning point. This has to be the moment when our government steps up to its responsibilities. No more scare tactics. No more division. Just honest practical caring governance.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has promised an official investigation into how the fire came about, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded ‘the truth’ for residents when he visited the site of the tragedy.