Audit, Inspection and Safety

22.06.17

DCLG denies forcing out Kensington CEO following Grenfell Tower tragedy

The chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council has resigned from his £187,000-a-year role after growing criticism over the local authority’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In his resignation statement, Nicholas Holgate claimed that the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, had called for his resignation on Tuesday. But the DCLG has denied this.

Holgate added that serving the families desperately affected by last week’s fire, in which at least 79 people died, remains the “highest priority” of the council.

“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,” he said.

The new comes after the Guardian revealed that during the £10m refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, 16 council inspections failed to prevent the use of the flammable cladding that is being blamed for spreading the deadly fire.

Judith Blakeman, a local Labour councillor who represents the Grenfell residents, told the newspaper: “This raises the question of whether the building regulations officers were sufficiently competent and did they know what they were looking at.”

Defending the local authority, Holgate said that whilst the public inquiry and other investigations will get to the truth of the causes of this tragedy and the management of its aftermath, he “strongly believes that councillors and officers have always endeavoured to have the interests of our residents at heart and will continue to do so”.

He added that success in the local authority’s efforts requires leadership across London that sustains the confidence and support of central government.

“There is a huge amount still to do for the victims of the fire, requiring the full attention of this council and many others,” said Holgate. “If I stayed in post, my presence would be a distraction.”

Nicholas Paget-Brown, leader of the council, said it was with great regret that he accepted the CEO’s resignation.

“Like everyone else, the council has been grief-stricken by the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire and has sought to provide the greatest level of support we can to victims,” he added. “That is a huge challenge and Nicholas has led from the front in seeking to do this. However, the council will now need to work in a new way with different partners to take this forward.”

A spokesman from the DCLG denied any involvement with the departure of Holgate, saying: “The appointment of chief executives is entirely the responsibility of the local authority.”

The government announced yesterday that around 250 survivors of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire will be rehoused permanently inside a £2bn luxury Kensington development. The DCLG added that more than 110 housing needs assessments have been completed to date and offers will then be made to families, with this process continuing until every family has been housed.

The new permanent housing is expected to be completed by the end of July.

This week, a number of London boroughs, including Ealing, Hounslow, Westminster, Bromley and Southwark, have been contributing resources in order to ensure “comprehensive humanitarian assistance” is available to survivors, including helping to manage and staff the Community Assistance Centre, running a helpline, providing mental health and wellbeing support, offering guidance on housing and temporary accommodation, and co-ordinating donations.

Also, following the DCLG ordering councils to inspect all high-rise buildings in their areas, a handful of local authorities have announced that they will be retrofitting sprinklers in their high-rise tower blocks in the aftermath of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.

(Image: c. Rick Findler/PA Wire)

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

District and borough authorities begin challenge against Nottinghamshire super-council

20/07/2018District and borough authorities begin challenge against Nottinghamshire super-council

Gedling council members have emphatically outlined their stance against a potential mega-merger in Nottinghamshire that could see borough and dis... more >
Northamptonshire new CEO approved by Full Council to lead area through ‘unprecedented time of change’

20/07/2018Northamptonshire new CEO approved by Full Council to lead area through ‘unprecedented time of change’

Northamptonshire County Council’s new chief executive has been endorsed at the authority’s Full Council meeting yesterday, with the a... more >
‘Naming and shaming index’ for bankrupt councils fails to offer genuine solution

20/07/2018‘Naming and shaming index’ for bankrupt councils fails to offer genuine solution

An index designed to measure councils’ financial resilience in order to avoid another Northamptonshire-style fiasco would actually risk ove... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Banks sued by 15 major councils in controversial loans fraud court battle

17/07/2018Banks sued by 15 major councils in controversial loans fraud court battle

Barclays is facing a legal battle over the issuing of controversial loans worth millions of pounds to major English councils. A High Court claim revealed by the Mail on Sunday found that 14 ... more >
Business case on the way for Nottinghamshire ‘super council’

13/07/2018Business case on the way for Nottinghamshire ‘super council’

Nottinghamshire has decided to proceed with a formal business case setting out plans to replace the current two-tier system in the region with a unitary authority after a vote was passed in yeste... more >

the raven's daily blog

One step closer to voter IDs at elections

19/07/2018One step closer to voter IDs at elections

Chloe Smith MP, Minister for the Constitution, evaluates the outcomes of the voter ID pilots conducted at the last local elections. We are one step closer to strengthening the integrity of our electoral system through requiring electors to confirm their identity before they vote, building on the government’s commitment to safeguard ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

One step closer to voter IDs at elections

19/07/2018One step closer to voter IDs at elections

Chloe Smith MP, Minister for the Constitution, evaluates the outcomes of the voter ID pilots conducted at the last local elections. We are o... more >
Accountability in government: what next?

02/07/2018Accountability in government: what next?

Benoit Guerin, senior researcher at the Institute for Government (IfG), explains why accountability in government needs improving and sets out wh... more >
Potholes: The scourge of the roads

02/07/2018Potholes: The scourge of the roads

Potholes are a scourge on our roads and can have much farther-reaching consequences than one might think. Re-routing just a small amount of exist... more >
Can data save the future of children?

02/07/2018Can data save the future of children?

Ingrid Koehler, service innovation lead at the LGiU, takes a look at the untapped potential for a digital, data-led transformation of children&rs... more >

interviews

Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >

public sector focus

View all News