Grenfell fire: Council leader quits over fire response


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Kensington and Chelsea Council captain Nick Paget-Brown has resigned following continued criticism of the council’s manipulating of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Mr Paget-Brown faced calls to resign from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and a edition of other senior politicians.

It comes after an aborted meeting of the assembly’s cabinet in which leaders had tried to ban members of the public and press.

At hardly any 80 people are believed to have died in the blaze on 14 June.

Stating his resignation, Mr Paget-Brown said he had to accept responsibility for “perceived failings” by the congregation after the tragedy.

“I have therefore decided to step down as bandmaster of the council as soon as a successor is in place,” he said.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid clouted: “This is clearly a personal matter for the leader of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, as in all probability as the council.

“However, given local people had lost confidence in the conductor, it is right that he has stepped aside.

He said the government’s priority “crumbs focussed on the ongoing response efforts and providing all necessary support to those simulated by this tragic incident”.

Deputy council leader and cabinet colleague for housing, property and regeneration, Rock Feilding-Mellen, also announced his resigning.

The decision to adjourn Thursday night’s meeting led to a rebuke from Downing High road on Friday.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “The High Court ruled that the assignation should be open and we would have expected the council to respect that.”

Congress leaders claimed an open meeting would “prejudice” the forthcoming segment inquiry.

But angry protests followed and Labour councillor Robert Atkinson, whose at arms length includes Grenfell Tower, branded the abandoned meeting a “fiasco”.

Mr Atkinson, the Undertaking group leader on Kensington and Chelsea, told the BBC he was “ashamed” of the authority.

He accused chieftains of “hiding from residents, they have been hiding from backbench councillors for ended a week”.

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The London mayor demanded the abandonment of the entire council leadership on Friday morning, adding the council’s steadfastness to scrap the meeting “beggars belief”.

Mr Khan welcomed Mr Paget-Brown stepping down, saying: “At all since the awful events of two weeks ago, it has been clear that the native community in and around north Kensington has lost trust in the council and that the authority is not fit for purpose.

“Last night’s decision to abandon the council’s cabinet encounter has merely compounded the misery for local people who are grieving, traumatised and hoping for for answers.”

Key criticisms of the council

  • Residents condemned the response to the tragedy profession it “absolute chaos” as relief efforts on the ground were limited.
  • They influenced there was little or no co-ordination in the immediate days after the disaster with calls council officials were nowhere to be seen.
  • It was accused of failing to prepare for enough support or information to those who had been made homeless.
  • It tried to grasp the first cabinet meeting since the disaster behind closed doors.
  • After a Expensive Court order ruled it should be open to the public, the council adjourned the joining after 20 minutes claiming an open meeting would “prejudgement” the inquiry.

Mr Paget-Brown said many “questions about the cause of the stir and how it spread so quickly” would need to be answered by the public inquiry.

He united: “The scale of this tragedy was always going to mean that one borough singular would never have sufficient resources to respond to all the needs of the survivors and those comprehended homeless on its own.

“We have been very lucky to have the support of other London boroughs, the predicament services and community associations based in north Kensington and I’m very thankful to them.”

Mr Paget-Brown said the council had been criticised for not answering “all of the doubts people had”. He said that was “properly a matter for the public inquiry”.

But he turned his decision to accept legal advice that he “should not compromise the noted inquiry by having an open discussion in public” on Thursday night had “itself transform into a political story”.

“It cannot be right that this should bear become the focus of attention when so many are dead or still unaccounted for,” he totaled.

Announcing his resignation, Mr Feilding-Mellen said it had been suggested several days since the blaze that he should step down but he had felt it was his “deference” to back the council’s efforts to help the victims.

“It will be for others to consider whether it would have been better for me to resign immediately, but I intent have found it hard to forgive myself if I had ducked out at such a concern of crisis for the borough,” he said.

Cladding on at least 149 high-rise edifices across 45 local authority areas in England has failed sparkle safety tests.

Last weekend, Camden Borough Council exhausted five tower blocks which were found to have the done flammable cladding as that of Grenfell Tower.

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