MPs now call on Kensington council leader to follow its chief executive by resigning in wake of Grenfell fire

The leader of Kensington and Chelsea council was today urged to follow its chief executive and resign over the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Labour MPs David Lammy and  Andy Slaughter called on Nicholas Paget-Brown to stand down, following Nicholas Holgate’s departure.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said political leaders needed to take responsibility for the tragedy in which at least 79 people are feared dead.

Tottenham MP Mr Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye, 24, died in the blaze, said: “This is a circumstance in which many people should consider their position and step aside.


Labour MP David Lammy has called on Nicholas Paget-Brown to stand down

“The leader of the council should go. The political leadership has been poor. He has lost the faith of the people on the streets.”

The Standard revealed earlier this week that Mr Paget-Brown had reportedly offered to resign following the criticism of the council’s response to the tragedy but that its cabinet had unanimously backed him to stay on.


Council chief executive Nicholas Holgate handed in his resignation overnight

However, Mr Lammy added: “They are out of touch with the community that they are meant to represent.”

Hammersmith MP Mr Slaughter said: “It looks bad if politicians let civil servants take the rap for things.

“Part of being elected is about accountability. My experience from having spent several days visiting Kensington is that there is no confidence in the political leadership of the council.


Sadiq Khan at the Grenfell Tower site in west London following the tragedy. (PA)

“Mr Paget-Brown should follow his chief executive and do the decent thing and resign.”

Announcing his departure last night, Mr Holgate said Sajid Javid, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, had “required the leader of the council to seek my resignation”.


The Grenfell Tower at the height of the fire (Jeremy Selwyn)

Mr Holgate added in a statement that he would have been a “distraction” if he had stayed in his post after the “heartbreaking tragedy”. A communities department spokesman said: “The appointment of chief executives is entirely the responsibility of the local authority.”

Pressed on whether the Government had demanded that Mr Holgate go, Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “not privy” to any conversations between the council and Mr Javid over the council boss’s resignation.

Asked whether it was “appropriate” for the Government to intervene, the Chancellor told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t know that my colleagues in Government spoke to him — I’ve not been privy to any conversation that may have occurred.

But I think what the Prime Minister was pointing to yesterday was that we have an excellent set of first responses to emergencies in this country — our fire, our police, our NHS.

“Where we have seen during this terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower that we are less well organised is around the second line of response — how we support the victims, how we deal with people who are, for example, made homeless by a disaster like this.”

Mr Lammy also demanded more information from Scotland Yard about the police-led investigation into the blaze. He said: “It’s not just about resignations. This is a crime. We need to live in a country where the police act.

“We have heard nothing about this criminal investigation.”

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