Elizabeth Campbell tonight (Wednesday 19 July) became leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council with a commitment to build more social housing and “create a future for this borough together with our residents.”
Cllr Campbell said: “We did not cope well enough in our initial response to the tragedy. I know that you will have heard me apologise for the inadequate response of the Council. Tonight I reiterate that apology to you directly, no ifs, no buts, no excuses.
“I am deeply sorry for the grief and trauma you are suffering. I am deeply sorry that we did not do more to help you when you needed it most.”
The meeting – the first full gathering of Kensington and Chelsea Council since the Grenfell fire – heard a number of new commitments from Cllr Campbell.
- building or buying 400 social housing units over the next five years
- investment in 31 homes in Hortensia Road
- working with central Government to secure a deal for North Kensington which will allow the authority freedom to borrow against the Housing Revenue Account and have more flexibility in how to use money from right-to-buy sales
- a commitment that Grenfell survivors and their families will have the determining say on the future of the Tower site.
Cllr Campbell told the meeting: “I want to thank community groups and volunteers for your extraordinary work. You went above and beyond and continue to do so. I understand why you are angry. I am determined to do everything in my power to help you.”
Unveiling a refreshed leadership team*, the Council leader pledged there would be a new culture at Kensington and Chelsea with local consultation at its heart.
She said: “We will create a future for this borough together with you our residents. Our councillors and senior executives will not decide this for residents but with residents.
“We will rethink all our plans for regeneration in the borough. We will work with residents to create new plans and you will vote on any results – if people vote against then we’ll go back to the drawing board together and start again.
“Mixed communities are what make this great city tick. What binds people from different backgrounds, different cultures and religions isn’t about a postcode – it’s about being human. What happened after the fire when the community came together in such an incredible show of human strength and compassion will humble me for the rest of my life. It has changed me and it will now change this council.”
The new senior leadership team* and areas of responsibility are:
Cllr Elizabeth Campbell – leader
Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith – deputy leader with responsibility for the Grenfell response and housing
Cllr Will Pascall – deputy leader with responsibility for all other borough services
Cllr David Lindsay - Corporate Services
Cllr Mary Weale - Communities
Cllr Emma Will – Family Services and Education
Cllr Charles Williams – Adult Social Care and Health
Cllr Gerard Hargreaves - Chief whip