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Barry Quirk to leave Lewisham to focus on Grenfell recovery

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Barry Quirk is set to become permanent chief executive of Kensington & Chelsea RBC, the role he has held in an interim capacity since the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.

Mr Quirk’s move will bring to an end his 24-year tenure as chief executive of Lewisham LBC.

He moved across to Kensington & Chelsea in June following the resignation of Nicholas Holgate, who faced criticism after widespread failings in the council’s response to help the victims of the disaster.

In a letter to Lewisham’s elected mayor Sir Steve Bullock (Lab), Mr Quirk said it was with “considerable personal sadness” that he was resigning.

Barry Quirk

BREAKING: New Kensington & Chelsea chief revealed

Barry Quirk

He said his task of stabilising Kensington & Chelsea’s management had “proved an extremely demanding role” and after the responsibility for the Grenfell response transferred back to the council last Friday from London’s gold command he needed to decide whether to continue in the position.

“I am sure that you will understand that in my view there is no more socially important nor morally urgent public service challenge in London than attempting to ensure the swiftest recovery for the hundreds of families impacted by this tragedy,” he wrote.

“You will guess that I am extremely torn about leaving Lewisham. Working as the council’s chief executive has been an enormous privilege.

“But I do feel that it is right that I move on now to help the recovery in Kensington & Chelsea. I suspect that this will also enable Lewisham to move forward in terms of its management arrangements.”

Mr Quirk also said it had been a delight to work with Lewisham’s councillors and said working with Sir Steve and his colleagues had taught him “how community governance is best achieved through dialogue and consensus building”. He said it had been a personal privilege to work with Sir Steve - who is due to stand down at elections next year - over the past 15 years.

Sir Steve said: “Without Barry’s outstanding leadership, Lewisham would not be the growing, resilient and cohesive place it is now. Nor would the local authority be the same organisation - one with an outstanding set of officers who have the skills, knowledge and credibility to work with our local community to help make Lewisham the best place in London to live, work and learn.

“Barry’s willingness to step in and assist in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster was commendable and I can think of no better person to help Kensington & Chelsea through this difficult period.

“I wish to extend sincere thanks to Barry on behalf of the members and staff of Lewisham Council, and most importantly on behalf of the residents of Lewisham.”


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