Grenfell Tower: Sadiq Khan demands Theresa May lets commissioners take over crisis-hit council

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for commissioners “untainted” by failings in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster to take over the running of the council.

Kensington and Chelsea council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown resigned on Friday amid growing criticism of the administration in the aftermath of the fire.

At least 80 people are believed to have been killed when a huge fire broke out at Grenfell Tower on Wednesday, June 14.  

Mr Khan said changing the leadership from within the existing members of Kensington and Chelsea council would not address the “fundamental breakdown in trust that has taken place”.

Council leader quits over Grenfell Tower disaster

He has written to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to appoint people who will be empathetic to the situation facing survivors of the disaster.

The mayor said: “It is crucial that the commissioners are people of high standing and probity, have a genuine empathy for local people and the situation they face, and be untainted, so that all residents of Kensington and Chelsea can have confidence in them and the manner in which they were appointed.

“These commissioners should serve the local community who deserve to know that decisions will be taken properly, in an open and accountable way.”

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Mr Khan said residents could, by the time of next May’s local elections, have evidence from the public inquiry and be better informed before choosing their next councillors.

Referencing Thursday’s council meeting which was adjourned when press were eventually allowed to enter the room, he wrote: “Following yesterday evening’s shambolic council cabinet meeting, it is self-evident that the leadership of the council has lost the trust of local residents.

“Without this trust, the council cannot effectively serve them or meet its responsibilities. It is also clear that a change in leadership from amongst the existing councillors will not address this situation – in fact it may aggravate it further, as it fails to address the fundamental breakdown in trust that has taken place.

The scene of the blaze in west London (AFP)

“Therefore, I believe the Government has no option but to immediately appoint commissioners to take over the running of Kensington and Chelsea council until the residents of the borough can choose, at next May’s council elections, who they wish to represent and serve them.

“By this time, the evidence from the Public Inquiry should enable voters to make an informed choice about the skills required in the councillors they elect.”

Mr Khan said he made the plea to the Prime Minister “with regret” but said he believed trust had broken down so severely that the Government must intervene.

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