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A mural paying tribute to victims of 2017 Grenfell Fire

“I’m never going to forget” Conservative London Assembly member on turbulent five years

When Conservative councillor Tony Devenish took the West Central General London Assembly (GLA) seat in 2016, he could not have predicted the immense challenges that would face him in the next five years. 

Devenish held the seat throughout the pandemic and during the Grenfell Tower Fire in 2017.

Born in Surrey, Devenish studied at Ashford College and was a businessman in the Middle East for 25 years before moving back to London, where he has been a Westminster City councillor for Knightsbridge and Belgravia for the past 15 years.

He said: “I’ve always had an interest in politics. Dare I say it I was one of those people who was a young Conservative. 

“Public life has its good points and its bad points. It’s not an easy life, but nothing worth doing is.”

Over the past few years, Devenish has put pressure on Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan and London Mayor Sadiq Khan to repair Hammersmith Bridge, which closed for traffic in April 2019, then pedestrians in August 2020.

He said: “It’s moved at glacial speed, with various people including me kicking people diplomatically.

“To say its not been great is an understatement.

“There’s lots of people my mothers age, who are 80 or 90 years old who have been cut off.”

A Hammersmith Bridge replacement ferry has been announced by TFL, with south west London GLA candidates clashing on who should foot the costs.

Over the pandemic, Devenish has been ‘troubleshooting’ for the members of his constituency as well as helping deliver food packages to residents in need.

He commented: “Politics is all about reassurance, reassurance, reassurance.

“We aren’t doctors, teachers, police officers, so it’s about thanking those people that do those frontline tasks as well as people who work in supermarkets and others.”

At 10am on Thursday June 14, 2017, Devenish joined Khan at Grenfell Tower, where firefighters still fought to control the horrific blaze that had broken out the night before killing approximately 72 people. 

The fire spread through the 24-storey building’s unsafe cladding, cladding which is still estimated to be present in 500,000 other buildings in London alone. 

Devenish said: “Grenfell is something that we all care about cross party, in the assembly, and indeed Parliament.

“It’s the moment I’m never going to forget.”

In the upcoming May 6 GLA elections Devenish hopes to be re-elected for West Central, which has been Conservative since 2000.

Main Photo Credits: ChiralJon Flickr

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