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EXCL: Shadow Cabinet member furious as public and media banned from Grenfell Tower council meeting

EXCL: Shadow Cabinet member furious as public and media banned from Grenfell Tower council meeting

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

A top Labour frontbencher has hit out after it emerged a local council meeting about the Grenfell Tower tragedy will exclude both victims and journalists.

Andrew Gwynne demanded "complete transparency" after Kensington and Chelsea Borough council placed the ban on their Cabinet meeting about the fire.

Council members argued the ban was to head off the risk of protests - after angry residents stormed the town hall on the Friday after the fire ripped through the building.

Emergency services have confirmed some 80 people are dead or presumed dead from the tragedy two weeks ago, while the final death toll could remain unknown for months.

A meeting of senior councillors was announced on the website of the Kensington and Chelsea Authority to be held at 6.30 tonight - but it was marked as a “private meeting”.

It is the latest move by the council to have sparked anger among the public - after its initial response to the disaster was condemned as too slow and chaotic.

Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne told PoliticsHome: "No explanation has been provided why residents and members of the media have been excluded from this meeting, and this secrecy will do little to address the concerns of survivors.

"In order to deliver a response that survivors, residents and the wider public can trust, there is no room for anything less than complete transparency."

The council announcement said: “Please note this meeting will be held entirely in private session, pursuant to Standing Order 31.01, in the light of the risk of disruption (as witnessed on Friday 16 June) and consequent security and public safety concerns.

“As such it will be open only to council members, support officers and invited guests (if any). The public minutes of this meeting will be published, in due course, on the council website.”

Labour councillor Judith Blakeman - who sits on the board which runs the borough’s housing - said it was a “mistake” to exclude residents and the media.

She added: “We believe this will only give credence to the view that there is a cover-up in progress and we do not accept the excuse that there may be violence.”

The National Union of Journalists also weighed in, saying it was “deeply disturbed” by the plan to keep the meeting under wraps, for which there was “no justification”.

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