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Kensington and Chelsea council leader Nicholas Paget Brown resigned

 

 

Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council leader Nicholas Paget Brown has said he is stepping down following criticism of the response to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Mr Paget-Brown cancelled a meeting to discuss the fire on Thursday because journalists were attending. One of the most senior Conservative councillors in the borough then called for him to stand down.

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

Grenfell fire meeting scrapped after journalists gain access

On Friday he said he had to accept responsibility for perceived failings by the council after the tragedy which claimed at least 80 lives.

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

Robert Black, who was chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), also resigned on Friday, saying he wanted to “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry.

Mr Paget-Brown thanked other London boroughs for their support, saying: The scale of this tragedy was always going to mean that one borough alone would never have sufficient resources to respond to all the needs of the survivors and those made homeless, on its own.

He acknowledged many questions about why the fire spread so quickly would need to be answered by the public inquiry, and the council had been criticised for failing to answer all the questions that people have.

He said: As council leader I have to accept my share of responsibility for these perceived failings.

In particular, my decision to accept legal advice that I should not compromise the public inquiry by having an open discussion in public yesterday, has itself become a political story.

And it cannot be right that this should have become the focus of attention when so many are dead or still unaccounted for.

Kensington council leader refuses to comment on resignation calls

I have therefore decided to step down as leader of the council as soon as a successor is in place.

They will appoint a new deputy leader and cabinet.

Downing Street said the council should have respected a High Court ruling that the press and public should be allowed into the meeting, which was originally slated to be held behind closed doors.

Mr Paget-Brown apologised on Thursday for the authority’s response to the tragedy, in which at least 80 people died.

But he then called the meeting to an abrupt close, saying that he had received legal advice that the presence of journalists would prejudice the inquiry into the tragedy being led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

He said in his statement: As responsibility for the operation of the Grenfell Support Group passes back to the borough over the next week or so, we will be looking to the community to indicate what else is required and they will take an active role in deciding how the donations are handled.

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