Tuesday, February 14, 2006

London Assembly 7th July Review Committee

Right. Kings Cross United is a non-political group for survivors and first responders and anyone who was directly caught up in the hell of the Piccadilly line bombed train ( i.e: saw things they won't forget) . We're almost 100 people now - mostly survivors, plus both drivers, two police officers, and LU staff.

Some of us still have questions and comments and and thoughts and feedback about the events of 7th July to share. Some of us have said that we want an independent, transparent Public Enquiry to try answer those questions. Some of us are feeling quite political and pissed off, as individuals about the lack of answers concernign events of July 7th and after.
Yeah, we know. No enquiry is to be held, says the Home Secretary, despite victims' anger. But the questions aren't going away. And when the next bomb goes off, we who went through it last time have some feedback that might be useful. It has been very frustrating. Even if the Government are too scared to face up to the fact that their foreign policy and support of Bush are instrumental in hardening Muslim extremism and raised the likelihood of further terror attacks in the UK, as the Joint Intelligence Committee warned Blair before the Iraq invasion, you'd think that there would be some interest in hearing from survivors, because there are useful learnings that can be shared. Well, now it seems Tessa Jowell may even be listening...

Once again, though, survivors are finding out all this stuff by themselves.I have been in contact with a man from the Edgware Road survivor group, and he let me know about the London Assembly and something called the London Assembly 7th July Review Committee. I had never heard of it. (It apparently came out of the London Resilience Committee, set up I think by the Mayor of London. It has been in operation for some months.) The Edgware Road man has suggested that his survivor group and KCU meet up to discuss issues and raise them at the meeting in March - a good idea I think and I am about to forward his message to the group.

(RANT: But why have we heard nothing about this Committee? I'm in contact with almost 100 survivors and people directly involved and nobody has heard anything - not a sausage! And given that what seems journalists and people from all over the world have managed to find out about KCU and make contact via this blog I am really surpised that nobody at the London Assembly or the DCMS thought to google'' 7/7 survivors'' and get in touch with any of us. Or get in touch with the Government-funded victim resource centre, the 7th July Assistance centre and ask them to tell victims. I wonder how the Edgware Rd group found out about it? Surfing the GLA website by chance?)


Anyway. I called the London Assembly to find out about this Committee and the planned special 'scrutiny' meetings - I understand there is to be one for bereaved 23rd March 10am -1pm, and one for survivors 27th march, 10am - 1pm. The scrutiny meetings are normally public, with press present. However, in this instance I understand survivors and bereaved unwilling to be in the spotlight can have private meetings and submit written documents for consideration with their feedback, thoughts and suggestions beforehand if they want. (Here's some info on 'Scrutiny Meetings'.)


I got quite excited at this point. Could this 'Scrutiny Meeting' be a sort of poor relation of the Independent Public Enquiry I and others have been badgering for? Could it be a start, at least, to answering the July 7th questions that still haunt victims?

The 7th July Review Committee, I have been informed by Dale Longford at the GLA who has an organising role, was set up to look at the 'lessons learned' following July 7th events, with 'particular focus on communications' . I was told by Dale that ''24 hours after the Government announced that there was to be no Public Enquiry'', approaches were made to the Committee'' to set up something. And, yes, they ''are in contact with the Department of Culture Media and Sport.''

Hmmm, I thought.

The DCMS are now funding the 7th July Assistance Centre, ( resource for victims/bereaved/affected by July 7th) but when I phoned the July 7th Assistance Centre up about it they had only heard about the meeting last week. Communication is not a strong point of the DCMS from what I have experienced over the last seven months.



(ANOTHER RANT: It is all so bloody infuriating - if you want to have some sort of enquiry into the events of 7th July, and communication thereafter, particularly with feedback from those involved, it kind of helps if you do some flipping communicating with the victims and survivors. Still, the 7th July Assistance Centre DO know about it now, and details of the planned meeting is to be circulated in a newsletter to victims and bereaved 'soon'. Which is hopeful. However...

There have been lots of problems reported with KCU members in terms of not getting sent info and being put on DCMS lists and then coming off lists again, and data being lost and invites to the Memorial Service and other events being chased and chased...I've ended up doing a lot of chasing and finding out myself and sharing info with the group about everything from Memorial service tickets to HPA Assessment, and I have a day job and a social life and I am obviously not being paid to do all this whereas the 7th July Assistance centre has Government funding.
So I am a bit twitchy about relying on the 7th July Assistance Centre and the DCMS for information on this sort of thing ( though to be fair they seem to have got a lot better recently


The irony of a meeting about communication problems on July 7th and after, with particular interest in the communications to survivors being set up, and the people the Government have put in charge of commuinicating to the survivors are unable to do so because they don't flipping well know about it is not lost on me!).



Anyway. I am told that the Committee has invited people to give their views on lessons learned since 7/7/2005 and to provide said views in writing or at informal meetings or on the days set - and that survivors are especially invited to the meeting on 27th March, from 10am - 1pm bereaved on 23rd March 10am -1pm - and that the focus of these meetings is to be communication - obviously on the day, but also with ''authority figures'' after 7th July ( for want of a better term - police, family liason officers, 7th July Assistance centre, etc).

So at least we can raise our concerns about the communications frustrations we have faced since the bomb exploded, and maybe some good will come out of it. Something helpful for the next survivors and families when the next bomb goes off.


From the website

''Whatever role you play in the life of the capital, the story of your experiences on the day is important to us.
Were you kept informed of what was happening? Were you stuck at work? What about your children, family, loved ones and friends? Were you directly affected and if so did you get the information you needed? What impressed you and what didn't? Importantly, where did you get information from?
It is the events and how they affected your day that matter to us, not your views on the causes and solutions to international terrorism, *they will be edited out of this record. Also, we would like to emphasise that we are focusing on what happened on 7 July, rather than the investigation that took place in the weeks that followed.


*Boo hiss.

Well, at least it is a start...

I bet all the conspiraloons turn up now. Well, at least they'll be able to see that I am real, not a ''Government disinfo shill''. For I shall be there. Oh yes.

10 Comments:

Blogger Holly Finch said...

I shall most DEFINITELY be there too! It's not everything we want, but at least it's a blinkin start!

Unbelieveble irony indeed. I thought I had gone past shockable with the chaos if the DCMS and the government regarding 7th July. But this REALLY takes the biscuit.

KCU, 100 people.....NONE of us knew about this. At the risk of sounding repetitive....UNBELIEVABLE!

I am looking forward to 27th March. In a small but significant way, our voices may be heard at last.

Here we come!

February 14, 2006 9:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel,

You are not one of the magic circle - you haven't the right place in the social scheme of things.... No smart left wing dinner parties in an affluent part of town with the ministerial Jags outside. No business deals with New Labour. No quango job at 150k with 10 weeks work a year.... No understanding of "Media Relations Management".... Your not an aging pop star with a cause. In short you are not a memeber of the ruling classes.

How could you possibly have any valid input on 7/7? Your place is to stand at Hyde Park corner and cheer them as they go by.

The Anon

P.S. In Victorian times, crowds of working class people would gather at Hyde Park corner on Saturday night to see the "Swells" going by in the carriages on their way to balls, house parties etc...

February 15, 2006 9:26 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Oh, I dunno, Anon. I've certainly had a platform - the Sunday Times x 3, Guardian, Sun, Observer, Grazia, this blog, the BBC ( TV and radio and online) , the BBC World Service...and I'm doing a speech in front of Tony Blair and the Prince of Wales in Westminster Abbey next month, broadcast live on the BBC and the World Service.

And I'll be rocking up to the London assembly, natch.

February 15, 2006 9:49 am  
Blogger Spark said...

I just read a report that Brown's "Memorial" idea has been more or less welcomed by the bereaved

Is that true?

BBC Report

I am wondering: just for the record, as I have not seen the reports, what did you tell the media when you were interviewed? Did you demand an enquiry? Did you make a fuss? With your connection to the tragedy and your obvious public platform you are in a position of power. Did you use it?

I myself am shy of this, because when the media call me they usually want me to link them to a survivor, and I don't believe they care two jots for my opinion: in fact I can't win because when I have proffered it in the past I have been unjustly accused [on TV] of trying to get publicity for the freedom of speech issue in which I am very involved [as if that is might be a bad thing to promote in tandem. but it does muddy the water a bit and leaves me open to puerile accusation. anyway, it's not true: I feel equally passionate about both issues]

Just wondering what you said - please advise.

Cheers
Mark

February 15, 2006 11:52 am  
Blogger Spark said...

oh and thanks a lot for the support Holly

Hope to meet you soon
M

February 15, 2006 11:53 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

I said on Capital radio that I was more interested in answering questions connected to July 7th and that was why a public enquiry was of more use; understanding why the bombs happened and what happened would help to prevent future tragedies. I was in meetings all day and never got a chance to hear the broadcast.

Any chance I get I say this: I was on the front page of the Sunday Times 2 weeks ago saying it and page 2 of the Sunday Times 3 weeks ago saying it and if you look in the side bar of this blog you will see the piece I wrote for the Sunday Times about it, and that is why I campaign for it and that is why i am going to the London Assembly and mobilising other survivors to give their testimony and to attend
you get the picture.

February 15, 2006 12:41 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-1937542,00.html

That was the last thing I wrote,& I 'll certainly be writing more, and I worote a blurb for Milan Lai's book 7/7 London Bombings and the Iraq War too ( out April) .

February 15, 2006 12:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you picked up on the rumours regarding the pre-2001 activities of the 7/7 lemmings, incidently?

The Anon

P.S. My appologies to any lemmings that I have inadvertently offended.

February 15, 2006 3:02 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Anonymous commenter please can you elaborate.

Yes I have talked to David Leppard ( Sunday Times terrorism investigative reporter) and yes, I have followed the news, but no, I do not know what you are talking about unless you actually state your thoughts...

February 15, 2006 4:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel,

There were some unconfirmed reports that some of the 7/7 jerks were associating with the Islamlemming movement from around the time of the invasion of Afganistan or possibly *before* - I will try and dig out the references for this...

The Anon

February 16, 2006 4:28 pm  

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