Kensington council boss resigns over Grenfell incident

Nicholas Holgate, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, has resigned following widespread criticism of the borough's response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

The fire, which has taken the lives of at least 79 people, has brought into light the council's £8.6 million refurbishment of the tower, with reports suggesting that the new cladding fitted during the refurbishment could have made the blaze worse. Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire.

Holgate has been criticised for the speed in which the local authority responded to the fire, with residents condemning the initial relief effort as ‘absolute chaos’.

Holgate said Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid has requested him to leave his post, although this has been denied by the government, who maintain that ’the appointment of chief executives is entirely the responsibility of the local authority’.

In a statement, Holgate said: "Despite my wish to have continued, in very challenging circumstances, to lead on the executive responsibilities of the council, I have decided that it is better to step down from my role, once an appropriate successor has been appointed. There is a huge amount still to do for the victims of the fire, requiring the full attention of this council and many others. If I stayed in post, my presence would be a distraction.

"Whilst the public inquiry and other investigations will get to the truth of the causes of this tragedy and the management of its aftermath, I strongly believe that councillors and officers have always endeavoured to have the interests of our residents at heart and will continue to do so."

John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, told BBC Breakfast that Mr Holgate was ‘right to go’, saying the ‘council went awol’ following the fire.

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