The embattled chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Council, has resigned after the company was slammed over their response to the Grenfell Tower inferno which razed a London residential building.
The chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, Nicholas Holgate, has resigned after being asked to do so by the communities secretary, Sajid Javid. In a statement Holgate said that Javid “required the leader of the council to seek my resignation”.
His resignation comes after a tide of criticism of the council, not only for the way it responded to the Grenfell Tower tragedy but also for historical neglect of poorer residents of the borough and a neglect of social housing.
Holgate said: “Serving the families so desperately affected by the heartbreaking tragedy at Grenfell Tower 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 added: “Success in our 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. If I stayed in post, my presence would be a distraction.”
Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown said: “It is with great regret that I have today accepted Nicholas Holgate’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. 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.”
It is understood that the Department for Communities and Local Government decided several days ago that John Barradell, the chief executive of the City of London council, should take over from Holgate at the recovery command for the Grenfell Tower operation because of concerns about the council’s failure to adequately manage the fire recovery operation.
Residents affected by the fire gave a cautious welcome to the news of Holgate’s resignation. One resident who has lost many people close to her in the fire and who asked not to be named, said: “We welcome the government intervention but we want to see all levels of the council held to account. We need resignations from those responsible for planning.
“We need dignity for the victims and real respect for those who live in social housing. We won’t feel justice has been done until there is a complete criminal investigation and we know who is truly responsible for the disaster. We should see those responsible imprisoned just like we witnessed entire families imprisoned in the fire.”
A graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, Holgate has worked in local government since 2008 when he joined Kensington and Chelsea as executive director for finance, information systems and property. He has also served for 11 months as interim joint chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham.
A career public servant, he started out as an administration trainee at the Treasury in 1984. He was director of welfare reform between 2001 and 2004 and then chief operating officer at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport until 2008.