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London mayor brands Kensington & Chelsea Council 'inept and incompetent'

sadiq khan
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London mayor Sadiq Khan has branded Kensington and Chelsea Council as ‘inept, incompetent and close to being useless’ in its response to the Grenfell Tower fire

Speaking at the Mayor’s Question Time today [13 July], Khan also said that prime minister Theresa May had missed her three-week deadline to rehouse the fire’s survivors, with just three families in temporary accommodation and none in permanent housing. 

He said ‘much more needs to be done to provide appropriate homes for Grenfell survivors’, who he added should be rehoused in the local area unless they chose otherwise.

Khan, who was responding to a question by London Assembly Labour member Tom Copley, was highly critical of the council.

‘Kensington and Chelsea Council are inept, they are incompetent, and they are close to being useless in the eyes of residents,’ he said. ‘And I concur with the residents. They have been missing in action, they have failed to provide the residents the support they need.’

He added that the council had taken ‘too long’ to ask for assistance from other London councils, and that the Grenfell residents’ confidence in the council had ‘gone’.

Earlier this week, New Scotland Yard said it believed the death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire would remain at around 80, and that about 350 people were in the building when the fire broke out. 

Khan also agreed with Copley that it would be unacceptable if the 129 homes in Grenfell Tower were not replaced on a ‘like-for-like’ basis in the local area. He added that this must be done in addition to building 68 further homes to compensate for the 68 Squire & Partners’ flats used to ‘rightly’ rehouse Grenfell survivors.  

Khan went on to criticise the new leadership at Kensington and Chelsea, saying: ‘The government could have quite easily done what they have done with other councils: send in commissioners, outside experts to go in and take over the running of services. They’ve chosen not to do so.

‘Instead a back room deal was hatched up between the new leadership and the government where the new leadership carries on and there is some sort of outside consultants used – not good enough.’

On Wednesday, the council’s new leader, Elizabeth Campbell, said she had never been inside any of the borough’s high-rise blocks of flats. 

Responding to Khan’s comments, Copley said: ‘I welcome that the mayor is doing all he can to lobby the government on this, but unfortunately his powers in this matter are limited. It is to their shame that the government and Kensington and Chelsea Council have not provided the housing and the support that residents both need and deserve.

‘It is right that our focus now is on helping to rehouse those who have been affected by this disaster. In the long term, we must also ensure that the homes lost in the fire are rebuilt in line with the community’s wishes.’ 

On Monday night, Khan revealed 50 design advocates to lead ‘good growth’ drive in the capital. 

Kensington and Chelsea Council has been contacted for comment. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Perhaps Sir Malcolm Rifkind - who in his MP days benefited from being able to occupy the safe seat of Kensington and Chelsea after being unseated in Edinburgh Pentlands - could be prevailed upon to apply his very considerable political and business skills in helping to sort out the deficiencies in this local authority and create a 'template' for how best to meet the enormous challenges facing all local authorities (and the government) in reforming housing provision, including tackling the iniquities of allowing housing to be used as an internationally tradeable commodity.

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