Calls for calm as council with responsibility for Grenfell Tower meets
Campaigners have called for a snap election to give voters their chance to have their say on the council.
Community members have appealed for calm ahead of a meeting where the future of the entire elected leadership of the council at the heart of the Grenfell Tower disaster will be discussed.
It will be the first full meeting since the aborted attempt last month, when former leader Nicholas Paget-Brown abruptly halted proceedings after journalists gained entry, later resigning.
Justice for Grenfell, which is appealing for a peaceful demonstration outside Kensington town hall, is calling for a snap local election so the troubled council can start from scratch.
Yvette Williams, of Justice for Grenfell, said: “We’re saying that, because of the poor show from the local authority both on June 14 and after, you can’t just shift the deckchairs around.
“It’s best that everyone goes and the only way that can happen is if they call an early local election.”
She added: “We will be inside as opposed to outside at the demo. We have called for a peaceful protest, I know that some people are bringing their children so we just hope it remains a peaceful protest, we don’t want any trouble.”
More than 1,500 people have signed a petition demanding the resignation of the entire elected leadership of the council, passing the threshold for a debate by councillors.
The meeting, scheduled for 6.30pm in the town hall, will also see the formal election of its new leader after the local Conservative group nominated Elizabeth Campbell earlier this month, while the new chief executive will be appointed.
Victims and survivors groups have voiced their anger at the authority’s actions in the lead up, and in response, to the devastating fire at the 24-storey block that left at least 80 people dead.
A public meeting on Tuesday night descended into shouting as residents’ frustrations boiled over, with several outbursts about the delay in rehousing survivors.
Thirty-seven of 169 offers of temporary accommodation had been accepted as of Wednesday morning, just over a fifth of the offers made.
The petition to be debated by the council said: “The cabinet’s decisions across a series of departments have culminated in the horrifying and completely avoidable loss of life in the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower on the 14th of June 2017.
“Given the council’s failure to respond to the litany of safety and fire concerns raised by Grenfell Tower residents, we have no confidence in this council’s ability to manage or build public buildings and therefore demand the immediate cessation of all regeneration projects, particularly the construction of new buildings, but including the demolition, or ‘improvement’ of current buildings stock – projects of the kind that the current cabinet have shown themselves grossly incapable of managing.”
In a response, interim chief executive Dr Barry Quirk, the head of Lewisham Council, said the council’s response to what he called “the most disastrous incident in the UK since the Second World War” was inadequate.
Several motions proposed by councillors in response to the Grenfell tragedy last month will also be discussed, including a call to urge the Government to grant undocumented residents a permanent right to remain in the UK.