POLITICS

Tory Councillor Mouths 'Don't Let Them In' As Grenfell Survivors Clamour To Get Through Fire Door

Shouts of 'shame', 'resign' and ' murderer' were heard in council chamber.

20/07/2017 11:12 BST | Updated 20/07/2017 17:02 BST

A Kensington and Chelsea councillor was caught on camera mouthing the words ‘don’t let them in’ as Grenfell survivors struggled to get through a fire door. 

Conservative Matthew Palmer was seen to repeatedly say ‘don’t let them in’, ‘don’t’ and ‘no’ as those who escaped the fire banged on the door to the chamber. 

It happened at the first full meeting of the council since the tower blaze claimed the lives of more than 80 people. 

Emotions were running high inside Kensington Town Hall and security was tight while new leader Elizabeth Campbell was appointed to cries of “shame”, “resign” and “murderer”. 

Drama reached new heights when survivors who wanted to speak at the meeting found the fire door was locked. 

Sky News
Matthew Palmer, pictured front left, was seen to repeatedly say ‘don’t let them in’, ‘don’t’ and ‘no’ as those who escaped the fire banged on the door

Deputy leader Kim Taylor-Smith did not try to defend his colleague when pressed by Sky News but said the Metropolitan Police had responsibility for security. 

He said: “I don’t think it is the right thing to make that comment. I don’t think it was the right thing to bar people coming in. 

“But I stress the security arrangements had been handled in conjunction with the police. This wasn’t the council telling people not to come in.” 

The authority has come in for fierce criticism since the blaze after it was discovered the cladding around the building, which allowed the blaze to spread rapidly, was the cheaper of two options. 

Ed Dalfarn, who pens the Grenfell Tower Action blog, rose to speak to councillors at the meeting.

He said: “Do you remember when we came to you about power surges, when we almost burned to death in 2013?”

Campbell was later accused of rolling her eyes at him.

PA Wire/PA Images
Newly elected council leader Elizabeth Campbell speaks at a meeting of Kensington and Chelsea Council at Kensington Town Hall in west London
 

She faced calls to stand down throughout the night, including from Eve Wedderburn who had collected 1,500 names for a petition.

Eve received a standing ovation at the end of an eloquent speech in which she told councillors “you are discredited before you begin” and “we fear your cosy relationship with developers, stand down”.

She said: “We do not recognise your right to govern our community.”

She added: “The problem here is not perception, but your actual culpability in an actual crisis.”

Campbell appointed a new cabinet and chief executive but could barely be heard as anger erupted again and again in the packed public gallery.

She said: “I am deeply sorry for the grief and trauma that you are suffering.

“I am truly sorry that we did not do more to help you when you needed it the most.”