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Hecklers urge council leader to quit amid Grenfell Tower tensions

The authority has come under sustained attack over its handling of the tragedy, in which at least 80 people died.

The leader of the council at the heart of the Grenfell Tower disaster faced fresh calls to resign during a fraught public meeting.

Elizabeth Campbell, head of Kensington and Chelsea Council, endured heckles and questions over her competence in front of residents from the west London neighbourhood.

The authority has come under sustained attack over its handling of the tragedy, in which at least 80 people died.

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The Grenfell Tower fire has claimed at least 80 lives (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Ms Campbell was joined by the council chief executive, Barry Quirk, representatives from the police and Pepe Francis, the organiser of Notting Hill Carnival, at the Al Manaar, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, west London.

She was told by one woman in attendance she had “blood on her hands” while others suggested she stood down.

“I’m not stepping down, I’m stepping up, I’m doing everyone we can to make everything better,” Ms Campbell told the meeting.

But the resident replied: “You come to these meetings time after time and you do nothing.”

The meeting was calmer than previous gatherings and saw a call for unity from one woman who said she had lost relatives in the fire.

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Kensington and Chelsea council chief executive Barry Quirk also attended the meeting (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“I beg you as a relative of the deceased for you to come together as a collective, creative force, because collectively is the only way we can achieve what we need to achieve in collaboration with the local authority, the Government, whoever we need, as a collective in a dignified manner,” she said.

The meeting was calmer than previous gatherings and saw a call for unity from one woman who said she had lost relatives in the fire.

“I beg you as a relative of the deceased for you to come together as a collective, creative force, because collectively is the only way we can achieve what we need to achieve in collaboration with the local authority, the Government, whoever we need, as a collective in a dignified manner,” she said.

Hamid, a survivor from the 16th floor of the tower who is still living in a hotel, said he just wanted to “get back to my normal life”.

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Residents of Grenfell Tower want answers (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He told the panel the council was paying too much money for hotels, adding: “As a government, you should know how to deal with this situation.

“I am in the middle of nowhere. What I need now … I need to be rehoused as soon possible.”

Council chief executive Mr Quirk said he was looking to treble the council’s housing stock set aside for Grenfell survivors, which currently stands at 105 properties.

As the meeting reached its conclusion, Ms Campbell was confronted by Niles Hailstones, a volunteer who has been co-ordinating a relief effort based in nearby Acklam Village.

Addressing the concerns of one resident, she had said: “In the first few days (after the fire) we weren’t there, but after that our workers have been there and I met Niles at the Acklam Village.”

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Niles Hailstones is one of the community leaders (Rachael Burnett/PA)

Mr Hailstones interjected: “What are you calling my name for?”

He then marched down the centre of the room to talk to the council leader face-to-face, asking: “What conversation did we have to make you mention my name in front of a room of people as if we have a relationship?

“Don’t call my name, don’t act like we have a relationship, you don’t have a relationship with this community.”

Ms Campbell then backed away and sat down as Mr Hailstones criticised the authority’s response, to applause and cheers.

He said: “When you talk about mental health, we were doing that two days after the fire, when you talk about everything you are incapable of doing, this community has been providing that from day one.

“You talk rubbish every week to us about ‘we’ll look into that’, ‘we’ll do this, we’ll do that’ – you are not doing anything at all.”

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From Belfast Telegraph