Council leader quits over fire response- BBC NEWS

Council leader quits over fire response BBC News

Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown has publicly apologised to Grenfell Tower survivor

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

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

It comes a day after an aborted meeting of the council’s cabinet in which leaders had tried to ban members of the public.

That decision led to a rebuke from Downing Street on Friday.

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

Council leaders claimed an open meeting would “prejudice” the forthcoming public inquiry.

Image copyrightCARL COURT Image captionMembers of the public and press had been barred from the council meeting until a court order overturned the decision minutes before it was due to start

(BBC NEWS) — Angry protests followed after the abandoned meeting, which Labour councillor Robert Atkinson, whose ward includes Grenfell Tower, branded a “fiasco”.

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

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

The mayor has demanded the resignation of the entire council leadership. He said the council’s decision to scrap the meeting “beggars belief”.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Mr Paget-Brown said many “questions about the cause of the fire and how it spread so quickly” would need to be answered by the public inquiry.

He added: “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.

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

But 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.