Grenfell Tower: Council leader stands down over blaze ‘failings’

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The leader of the council dealing with the Grenfell Tower fire resigned last night following criticism of his handling of the disaster.

Nicholas Paget-Brown said he had to accept responsibility for “perceived failings” by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council after the tragedy, which claimed at least 80 lives.

The tenant management organisation chief has also stepped aside. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

The tenant management organisation chief has also stepped aside. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

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

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.”

The first cabinet gathering since the disaster was halted abruptly by Mr Paget-Brown on Thursday evening after council leaders had tried to ban members of the public and press.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said of the meeting: “Our view is that access to democracy should always be easy and we think that is vital if people want to retain confidence in our democratic system.”

Mr Paget-Brown added: “As I said yesterday, this is a huge human tragedy for so many families.

“The task for my successor is to ensure that the strengths which also characterise this place, and north Kensington in particular, are seen to play their part in bringing the community together and ensuring that this borough, the most wonderful place, can start to move forward from this ­tragedy.”

Deputy leader councillor Rock Feilding-Mellen also stepped down, saying he would “of course co-operate in full with the public inquiry”.

In a separate development, the organisation which manages Grenfell Tower in west London announced it had agreed its chief executive would “step aside” so he can “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”.

A statement from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation confirmed Robert Black’s position, two days after retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick was appointed to lead the public inquiry into the deaths.

An interim chief executive will be appointed, it added.