Leader of Kensington and Chelsea council Nicholas Paget-Brown offers to quit over Grenfell Tower fire


The leader of Kensington and Chelsea offered to resign after the council was heavily criticised for its response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Standard has been told.

The town hall is also at the centre of a police investigation into the devastating inferno which is feared to have claimed the lives of at least 79 people.

Nicholas Paget-Brown is believed to have offered his resignation at a meeting of the council cabinet yesterday but it was unanimously rejected by fellow councillors.

In a statement to the Standard, he said: “We are all heartbroken by the tragic fire and the appalling loss of life at Grenfell Tower.

“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and friends and to the residents and wider community. In the circumstances it has of course been appropriate to ensure that as leader… I continue to have the support of my colleagues.  

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“Heartbroken”: Nicholas Paget-Brown

“They have said overwhelmingly that they back me and are behind my key priority at the moment, which is to work with Government, charities, volunteer and resident groups and the emergency services to rehouse and assist all those affected.”

He praised the “strength, compassion and resolve” of residents and the community and the “tireless and unsung work of huge numbers of council staff across the borough”.

Yesterday No 10 sidestepped a question on whether Theresa May had confidence in Mr Paget-Brown.

Amid growing anger at the response to the disaster, a Grenfell Fire Response Team has been set up to improve support for victims.

It includes London-wide local and regional government, central government, the British Red Cross, the Metropolitan police and London Fire Brigade.

The full extent of residential blocks in the capital that have cladding and need urgent investigation started to emerge today.

Many town halls have called in specialist teams to check towers do not pose a fire risk, with more than 100 social housing blocks known to have external cladding in London.

Today firefighters continued to search through 24-storey Grenfell Tower following the blaze in which 79 people died or are missing presumed dead.

Mayor Sadiq Khan demanded residents be given a say in the public inquiry from day one and warned there was already “considerable mistrust and anger” in the local community.

Newham council has identified that the same firm which carried out cladding work at Grenfell refurbished one of its blocks, Ferrier Point, but an initial investigation showed the material used  is of a different type which can tolerate high temperatures, is used to create firewalls, and meets safety standards.

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A firefighter in tears before a minute’s silence for victims (PA)

A Westminster council spokesman said: “We can confirm Harley Facades supplied the additional cladding at the Little Venice estate. There is no reason to believe the type of cladding is the same as that used at Grenfell Tower.

“Having reviewed all records we are reassured the cladding fully complies with all building regulation requirements in regard to fire safety.” The Little Venice estate includes six towers.

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Candles held aloft at a vigil for victims (PA)

Hounslow is liaising with the Communities Department on inspections of seven of 35 tower blocks where rain screen cladding systems was installed.

Katherine Dunne, the council’s cabinet member for housing, has written to residents highlighting significant differences in the cladding compared with that reportedly on Grenfell Tower.

Emotional tribute from firemen to Grenfell Tower victims

In Barnet, three blocks have rain screen panels of aluminium composite material similar to that reportedly used on Grenfell, but the council said insulation used for them is non-flammable.

Enfield said external insulation cladding is on five of its blocks, adding: “We believe the cladding is non-flammable but we are removing some panels this week to confirm this.”

In Haringey, 12 tower blocks managed by the council have been externally clad. It stressed that none have the Grenfell-type aluminium system. Barking and Dagenham has identified four blocks with cladding but said the system is different.

Waltham Forest said it had several blocks with external insulation, but not the same cladding as Grenfell. Greenwich is checking cladding on 11 high-rise blocks, with five already known to meet fire safety regulations.

Camden has 13 cladded blocks but said it is a different design to Grenfell. Lambeth has 14 over six storeys high with cladding, and in Richmond there are two 15-storey social housing blocks with cladding.

But this is said to be non-flammable rockwool.  In Brent there is one high-rise with cladding but it is different to Grenfell’s.

The figures are just for social housing and not private developments. Islington council has put a hold on all planned work to install cladding and  Croydon council will install sprinklers in all blocks over 10 storeys, at a cost of £10 million.

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