Grenfell housing chief has book launch party on blaze anniversary
A HOUSING chief is to mark today’s first anniversary of the Grenfell fire – in which eight of her tenants died – by launching a second career as a fashion guru.
After survivors, neighbours and politicians take part in events to commemorate the disaster, Kate Davies, head of the Notting Hill Genesis social housing organisation, will host a party to promote her book, entitled Making Life More Beautiful.
Miss Davies made headlines three years ago when she said a shocking event was necessary to end prejudice against those living in state- subsidised homes. She told a conference that ‘either we need an appalling fire where some beautiful young children die, or a riot’.
The Grenfell fire last June killed 72 people, including eight in three flats used by the Notting Hill group to house previously homeless families.
Miss Davies, whose pay package from her publicly financed organisation is worth more than £250,000 a year, now aims to turn her skill as a dressmaker into another source of income.
Her book will be launched at an event this evening at the headquarters of the housing trust. Followers of her fashion blog have been told they can enjoy a drink in the garden of the HQ building. Copies of the book will be available for £14.99, ‘with a personal dedication if you would like one’.
She said in the blog that the book ‘is close to done and then I can look forward to the party!’
She added: ‘It’s the first anniversary of Grenfell and a number of my friends will be involved in special events in the area.’
But she said: ‘It is a big day for me and I am very grateful so many have decided to come along.’
Kathy Gyngell, co-editor of the Conservative Woman website, said: ‘It is a pity Miss Davies is not spending her time and effort working out how to reform social housing, which is in urgent need of change to cut bureaucracy and cost. It has to be more efficient and accountable.
‘Her decision to stage this party seems in questionable taste.’
The book offers ‘sharp observation, half a century of dressmaking knowledge and glorious photographs of beautiful women – all brought together to help you make your life more beautiful’.
Privately educated Miss Davies, 62, has been chief executive of the Notting Hill group for 14 years, after an earlier career as an ultra-Left political activist.
The organisation is now one of the biggest housing associations in southern England.
During the 1980s she was a leading figure in the Revolutionary Communist Party, which supported the IRA and which tried to persuade Brixton residents to fight the police. In more recent times she was criticised by Labour supporters after producing a report for a Right-leaning think tank founded by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
A Notting Hill Genesis spokesman said: ‘This is a private event to launch Kate Davies’ book on the subject of fashion. It has been produced independently of the housing association and in no way detracts from the efforts to remember those so tragically lost in the Grenfell tragedy.
‘Notting Hill Genesis staff will be remembering those affected, including our tenants who sadly lost their lives, throughout the day and taking part in the national silence at midday.’
He added: ‘The event is being held at our offices outside of business hours, and therefore has no effect on the work we do as an organisation. As such, no fee is being charged for the room, though any additional costs are being paid by Kate Davies.’
The tower was lit up with green light last night as part of the Green for Grenfell tributes which will take place around the UK.
‘This seems to be in questionable taste’
Fashion advice: Social housing chief Kate Davies
Tribute: Tower lit up last night