Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown steps down amid Grenfell Tower fire criticism


The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, Nicholas Paget-Brown, has announced he is stepping down in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The move follows criticism of the council’s response to the disaster, in which around 80 people are believed to have died. 

It comes after the first council meeting held in the borough since the disaster was cancelled on Thursday amid furious protests as councillors claimed the presence of reporters would put the investigation at risk.

Mr Paget-Brown said on Friday evening: “As council leader I have to accept my share of responsibility for these perceived failings.

Number 10 rebuke for Kensington and Chelsea council over fire meeting shutdown

“In particular, my decision to accept legal advice that I should not compromise the public inquiry by having an open discussion in public yesterday, has itself become a political story.

“And it cannot be right that this should have become the focus of attention when so many are dead or still unaccounted for.

“I have therefore decided to step down as leader of the council as soon as a successor is in place.

“They will appoint a new deputy leader and cabinet.”

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Journalists wait to gain access to the Kensington and Chelsea council meeting (Getty Images)

The press was able to gain access to the meeting after a judge ordered the council to lift a ban on the media attending the meeting. Numerous media organisations had launched a legal challenge against the council

Downing Street has criticised the council for cancelling the meeting, which was scrapped as soon as the media entered the room.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “The High Court ruled that the meeting should be open and we would have expected the council to respect that.”

Robert Black, who was chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), also resigned on Friday, saying he wanted to “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”.

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Outside Kensington Town Hall, where the council adjourned a planned cabinet meeting after press were allowed to attend. (PA)

Kensington and Chelsea Council has come under increasing pressure since the disaster, with some residents accusing authorities of being slow to offer aid and housing to victims.

On Thursday, furious opposition councillors demanded the resignation when he scrapped its first meeting since the disaster within just minutes of starting.

Mr Paget-Brown told councillors: “I have agreed the meeting be held in private, given the subject under discussion and the recent real threats of assault on council staff and damage to buildings.

“I am advised that, if there are others present, we cannot have an open discussion.”

He added: “We can’t have an open discussion.” 

He has faced calls to resign from a number of politicians, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan

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