The head of the local council in the London borough where at least 80 people died in a fire in a social housing tower block resigned on Friday after he was criticised for the organisation’s handling of the disaster.
The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, Nicholas Paget-Brown, acknowledged criticism of his decision on Thursday to suspend a council meeting on the June 14 disaster at Grenfell Tower when media attempted to follow proceedings, something he said was necessary to avoid compromising a public inquiry.
Announcing his resignation, Paget-Brown said, “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 am very grateful to all of them.
“This council has also been criticised for failing to answer all the questions that people have, that is properly a matter for the public inquiry. As council leader, I have to accept my 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. I have therefore decided to step down as leader of the council as soon as a successor is in place.”
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May earlier on Friday criticised the decision to try to hold the council meeting in private.
Residents of the block want to know why the fire spread so rapidly and whether proper fire safety measures had been in place. They also want explanations about why their concerns had been ignored.