Mayor calls for Grenfell council to be taken over

The Mayor of London is calling on Theresa May to appoint "untainted" commissioners to run the Kensington and Chelsea council after the council leader resigned under increased pressure for his handling of the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Sadiq Khan welcomed Nick Paget-Brown's resignation and said it was clear the local community had "lost trust" in the council and that the administration was "not fit for purpose".

He added: "The council now needs to find a way to move forward and find a way to restore the confidence in that community.

"That can only be done with new leadership and a new approach that reaches out to residents who quite rightly feel desperately neglected.

"The Government needs to get a grip and immediately act to appoint commissioners to take over the running of Kensington and Chelsea council.

"Commissioners who are untainted should take over the running of the council to act in the best interests of residents until the voters of the borough can choose, at next May's council elections, who they wish to represent and serve them."

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Nicholas Paget-Brown was rebuked by Downing Street for abandoning a Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council meeting to discuss the deadly west London blaze on Thursday evening.

The Tory councillor accepted he had become a "political story" having faced anger and calls to resign for calling an abrupt halt to the meeting, citing legal advice.

It was the first cabinet gathering since the June 14 fire, which claimed at least 80 lives.

In a recorded resignation, Mr Paget-Brown said he accepted his "share of responsibility" for "perceived failings" in the council response and would make way for a successor.

"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," he said.

"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 from the council as soon as a successor is in place."

  • Video shows angry scenes as the meeting is brought to a sudden end

Opposition councillor Robert Atkinson had called on Mr Paget-Brown to resign after the council leader claimed the presence of journalists in the room could "prejudice" the government-ordered public inquiry.

The council had banned press and public from attending before the media obtained a High Court ruling overturning it.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said it was Prime Minister Theresa May's view the council should have "respected" the ruling, adding: "Access to democracy should always be easy."

Opposition councillor Robert Atkinson called on Nicholas Paget-Brown to resign at Thursday's meeting.
Sadiq Khan called on the prime minister to appoint commissioners to temporarily run the council. Credit: PA

Mr Paget-Brown had replied "no comment" when asked by ITV News if he should resign on Friday morning.

His confirmed departure hours later came on the same day it was announced the head of the organisation that manages Grenfell Tower is standing down.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) confirmed Robert Black had agreed to "step aside" to "concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry".

Robert Black has stepped down as CEO of the organisation which manages Grenfell Tower. Credit: ITV News

Retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been appointed to lead the public inquiry, which has led to concern over its scope following concerns from survivors, residents and the judge himself.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged the prime minister to split the inquiry into two parts, a day after Sir Martin warned it may be too narrow to satisfy all survivors.

In a letter, Mr Corbyn said the first part should look at specific issues around the fire in Kensington and report back soon, before ultimately publishing a second part "looking at the national issues".