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Grenfell Tower fire: Council leader heckled at fraught community meeting

Elizabeth Campbell and her council faced the anger of the crowd, but there was a call for unity from one grieving relative

The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council faced fresh calls to resign at another fraught public Grenfell Tower meeting.

Elizabeth Campbell was again heckled and questioned over her competence at the Grenfell Response Team meeting on Wednesday (August 24).

She was joined on stage by council chief executive, Barry Quirk, representatives from the police and Pepe Francis, chairman of London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprise Trust (LNHCET) at the Al Manaar, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in Acklam Road, Notting Hill.

The council has come under sustained attack over its handling of the disaster , in which at least 80 people died on June 14.

Cllr Campbell was told by one woman she had “blood on her hands” while others suggested she stood down.

Elizabeth Campbell has refused calls to step down since becoming the new council leader (see video below)(Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

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

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

There was also a heated clash with Niles Hailstones, chairman of campaign group Westway23 . He confronted Cllr Campbell after she said she had met Mr Hailstones at Acklam Village in the days after the fire.

To applause and cheers he said: “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.”

He continued: “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.”

Despite this, 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.

Also speaking was Hamid, who lived on the 16th floor of the tower. He has been in a hotel since the tragedy and told the panel he just wanted to “get back to my normal life”.

He said the local authority was spending a fortune on 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.”

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

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