Grenfell Tower: Sadiq Khan calls for more resignations at council after devastating blaze


Sadiq Khan has called for further resignations at the council responsible for Grenfell Tower after the devastating fire.

Council chief executive Nicholas Holgate has quit, but Mr Khan said the entire leadership of Kensington and Chelsea council should be considering their positions.

There was “not a chance in hell” that residents “will have the semblance of confidence in that council until they see a change in leadership”, he said.

The Tory council’s leader, Nicholas Paget-Brown, has been severely criticised over the authority’s response to the tragedy.

Mr Khan, who also called for more transparency from Theresa May’s government, said local politicians should take responsibility for what happened.

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At least 79 people were killed in the horror blaze (AFP/Getty Images)

At an event in Brixton, he said: “There’s no confidence at all in the leadership of the council. I welcome the resignation of the chief executive. It’s still not enough.

“Residents will not have confidence in those in positions of power locally until they see a change.”

Asked if Mr Paget-Brown should consider his position, the mayor said: “That’s a decision for him and others but I welcome the resignation of the chief executive.

“I think it’s not sustainable for those in positions of power and influence in Kensington and Chelsea to stay there bearing in mind the lack of confidence from those residents.”

Potentially combustible cladding has been identified on at least seven other tower blocks, with tests being conducted urgently to see if many more could have the same material, which is suspected of helping the Grenfell blaze spread.

Mr Khan said: “I have been calling for eight days now for maximum transparency.

“From the very first task force meeting I attended I said we have got to provide the reassurance that people need because, not unreasonably, if you live in a tower block you are worried, if you have got friends and family who live in a tower block you are worried.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government is “finally getting a grip”, with tests being carried out rapidly.

But Mr Khan said: “We need to make sure that even if they have got cladding that’s safe, has it been properly installed?

“There are also other checks that need to be taking place – are the fire doors closed in those tower blocks, are there fire extinguishers, are there smoke alarms, is there access for fire engines?”

He added: “My message to the Government is be as transparent as you can, you must be transparent but also you must provide the resources to make sure we make those tower blocks as safe as they can be.”

Asked if ministers had been as transparent as possible, Mr Khan said: “So far, they haven’t. I’m pleased there’s been an improvement, they have definitely raised their game, but they have got to do even better.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Paget-Brown apologised for “a failing in our collective response” to the fire.

“Council workers have been on duty around the clock since 1.30am on the day of the fire, helping local residents and the families of the victims. I have nothing but praise for their truly heroic efforts,” he said.

“However, although individual council officers have worked so hard and delivered so much, it is clear that there has been a failing in our collective response.

“We could have done a better job at co-ordinating what happened on the ground and we weren’t able to re-home people as fast as we would have liked. We are truly sorry for that.

“This is a tragedy of enormous proportions, and it has overwhelmed our normal capacity.” 

The statement said the council had found temporary accommodation for 250 households, adding: “No-one has been housed outside of London.”

“Work is under way to assess the housing needs of all Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk families to identify suitable accommodation. 

“All the identified properties are in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or a neighbouring borough, and none will be in towers.”

A centre specifically for the friends and families of victims and those still missing had been set up in addition to the community assistance centre at the Westway, Mr Paget-Brown said, adding that every household affected had been allocated a social worker to act as their main point of contact, if they wanted one.

“People rightly have many questions about this tragedy, and they will be answered.”

“Lessons will be learned from the Grenfell Tower fire and the Government has launched a full public inquiry. We will cooperate in full with this and all other investigations.”

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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