More than 800 households are being evacuated this evening in a major panic move by Camden Council. The spokeswoman for the council made an official statement a few hours ago: “I know it’s difficult but Grenfell changes everything”. It will definitely be difficult and change everything for those residents leaving their homes tonight among which we can see mothers holding their new-born babes in their arms, other infants crying while they look for their parents, fathers with pets, another mother cradling her tiny baby; some families carrying whatever possessions they can. Some residents however, have refused to evacuate the building as they had not been given any official warning before they were ordered out of their homes. One of these residents said: “They (the Council) have to be looking as they are doing something. It is chaos. Pandamonium.”
Over the space of a couple of hours Camden council made the rush decision to put 4000 people into the streets of London. They might just as well have said: “Pack your bags and go!” But go where? The residents of all 5 Tower Blocks have been advised to make their way to Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre for further information. Apparently, once there, they will be given a number and an anonymous council official will then tell them where they can spend the night.
Residents received a letter this morning stating that the Council would come and fix a series of malfunctioning gas pipes, but there had been no evacuation order. Suddenly, 4000 people saw themselves with nowhere to go, having to stop whatever they were doing and leave the residential blocks. As one 94 year- old resident has said: “We don’t know whether we are coming or going?” Many residents heard the evacuation order on Sky News as they had not been previously informed by the Council.
What are we witnessing in London this evening? A major panic attack by the Council? A tantrum provoked by incompetent council officials? An absurd official order backed up by May’s authoritarian and dysfunctioning government? Your guess is as good as mine. But what I do know is that what is happening in Camden this evening is illegal, inhuman, irresponsible, and another trauma that we, the residents of London, do not need. Why create another panic attack when there is no need to? It is positive that the Council should worry about the safety of their residents, but to dictate their lives and make extraordinary decisions on their behalf within a couple of hours is surreal, unrealistic, worrying to say the least. The residents were allocated numbers in order to find a place to sleep. When and where in history did we witness this before?