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K&C leader: Borough's reputation 'tarnished and diminished'

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Kensington & Chelsea RBC’s reputation is in tatters but many of the criticisms facing the council can be challenged, the local authority’s leader has said.

However, Nick Paget-Brown (Con) has vowed he will not seek “the resolution of political scores” at this point in time.

In a statement issued following last night’s abandoned cabinet meeting, Cllr Paget-Brown said: “At present the name of Kensington and Chelsea stands tarnished and diminished.

“Our plans to transform housing are currently on hold. Our reputation with the wider community in North Kensington is damaged and in some cases fractured.”

Kensington & Chelsea’s cabinet had been due to hold a meeting to discuss the fire at Grenfell Tower in private last night. However, after media organisations overturned a ban on their attendance, Cllr Paget-Brown cancelled the meeting due to concerns what could be said might prejudice the public inquiry.

In the statement Cllr Paget-Brown apologised “for what we could have done better”.

He said the council is “under sustained media criticism for a slow reaction to the fire, non-visibility and for failing to invest in North Kensington”. Cllr Paget-Brown added: “I believe that many of these criticisms need to be challenged and over time they will be, but I can think of nothing more demeaning to the memory of those lost and missing in the fire than seeking the resolution of political scores.”

Cllr Paget-Brown said the council cannot carry on “as usual” and added he plans to form a sub-committee of the cabinet to “oversee the specific challenges posed by the fire and to ensure that we have a co-ordinated and visible response that is respected by the survivors”.

This will require a “dedicated scrutiny committee” to oversee the work and “ensure that community representatives are properly heard”, he said.

Cllr Paget-Brown added: “Our officer team will need to consider how it is best configured to respond and this is likely to involve staff dedicated to a specific Grenfell Tower unit.”

Grenfell Tower fire fallout in numbers

  • 80 people confirmed so far to have lost their lives
  • 373 households currently in temporary accommodation, including 140 placements of people from Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk. Nobody has been offered accommodation outside London.
  • 106 of the 160 adult social care and children’s social services workers allocated to affected households are Kensington & Chelsea RBC staff
  • £1.6m distributed to affected families. This consists of a £500 cash payment for immediate needs and £5,000 delivered through the Department for Work & Pensions into a bank account. Cllr Paget-Brown acknowledged there had been “issues in ensuring that all those who needed cash had received it” in the “early days” after the fire.

Source: Kensington & Chelsea RBC

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