NATIONAL: Calls are made for commissioners to run Kensington and Chelsea Council

Grenfell Tower. Credit: Henry Nicholls / SWNS.com
Grenfell Tower. Credit: Henry Nicholls / SWNS.com
The waterfront of Gosport.

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LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan has called for commissioners to take over the running of Kensington and Chelsea Council after its leader and deputy leader resigned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Nicholas Paget-Brown said he had to share responsibility for ‘perceived failings’ by the authority in the aftermath of the tragedy which claimed at least 80 lives.

His deputy, Rock Feilding-Mellen, also intends to stand down from the council, which also lost its chief executive Nicholas Holgate, following a barrage of criticism over the authority’s response to the fire.

Mr Khan, who welcomed the resignation, said the government had ‘no option’ but to appoint ‘untainted’ commissioners who had ‘a genuine empathy for local people and the situation they face’ to take over running the authority.

He said: ‘The council now needs to find a way to move forward and find a way to restore the confidence in that community.

‘That can only be done with new leadership and a new approach that reaches out to residents who quite rightly feel desperately neglected.’

Commissioners were brought in to run Tower Hamlets Council in 2014, following a critical independent report into the council’s award of grants and sale of properties under former mayor Lutfur Rahman.

In his resignation statement, Mr Paget-Brown said: ‘As council leader I have to accept my share of responsibility for these perceived failings.

‘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.’