Elizabeth Campbell: New council leader in charge of Grenfell Tower disaster not resigning 'yet' after furious backlash

The new leader of the council at the centre of the Grenfell Tower fire has rejected calls to resign, after a meeting heard traumatic accounts of survivors' experiences since the blaze.

Elizabeth Campbell faced boos and shouts of "shame on you" at a Grenfell Tower public meeting as the new leader of the local council was formally elected.

She was met with a furious reaction from the packed public gallery in Kensington Town Hall's chamber as she tried to direct her speech towards the fire survivors and local residents sat above her.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Campbell admitted that she is "facing a great challenge" but insisted: "I feel I'm stepping up to the challenge, rather than stepping down and away from it.

"I have to go out, with my fellow Labour politicians, and I have to go and meet survivors one-to-one I think."

When asked if she had any plans to resign, she replied: "No, not yet."

Wednesday night's public meeting came a week after Grenfell families confronted Ms Campbell at a meeting in nearby St Clement's Church that descended into chaos.

Locals have condemned Kensington and Chelsea council for its response to the west London disaster that claimed the lives of at least 80 people.

Cries of "business as usual" were heard at the meeting as Ms Campbell received the show of hands from her fellow Conservative councillors to become the new council figurehead.

A rival call for a show of hands from those opposed to her election saw dozens of people in the public gallery raise their arms in protest.

Ms Campbell's speech was met by cries of "liar" and her attempts to apologise for the council's actions rejected as "too late".

A further 150 community members and volunteers had packed into an over-spill room while a crowd of demonstrators outside held "Justice for Grenfell" placards.

A large crowd protested outside Kensington Town Hall. Credit: PA

Survivors and grieving family members addressed the meeting as a motion was heard for the council to be replaced by government-appointed commissioners.

One woman whose teenage niece perished in the blaze told the chamber her brother and sister-in-law could not speak in public because "their pain is too huge".

"I think you should be highly embarrassed by the (council's) response," she said, adding that a "simple acknowledgement of an email would have gone a long way".

Grenfell resident Edward Daffarn, who lived on the Tower's 16th floor, said the council had been made aware in 2010 of a residents' group's concerns over spending that he said had put the "fire safety of Grenfell residents at risk".

He said the council, including Cllr Campbell, had "ignored" residents and earned applause as he called on them to stand down.

"If you councillors from the ruling party honestly believe that you have the legitimacy after everything you've heard here tonight ... you need to seriously reconsider," he said.

"Because I'll tell you one thing, the wounds that have been created in North Kensington are not going to heal as long as you are ignorant enough to believe that you have a right to rule over us."

Grenfell survivors and local residents made their feelings known inside Kensington Town Hall's chamber. Credit: PA

Addressing survivors in the chamber, Ms Campbell had said: "I am deeply sorry for the grief and trauma that you are suffering.

"I am truly sorry that we did not do more to help you when you needed it the most."

Residents have expressed anger at the level of support they had received following the June 14 blaze as well as the safety of the Tower both before and after the disaster.

Ms Campbell replaces Nick Paget-Brown, who resigned last month hours after he was rebuked by Downing Street for abruptly ending the first council meeting after the disaster, which prevented other attendants making public statements.

Elizabeth Campbell asked to direct her maiden speech as leader towards the public gallery. Credit: PA