Kensington Conservatives have chosen a former cabinet member to replace the outgoing leader of the local authority at the centre of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Elizabeth Campbell will be put forward to take over from Nicholas Paget-Brown, who resigned on Friday, and lead the embattled Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Mr Paget-Brown stepped down amid fierce criticism of the council’s response to the Grenfell tragedy, in which at least 80 people died nearly three weeks ago.

Elizabeth Campbell
Elizabeth Campbell will take over as leader of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC/PA)

Ms Campbell told reporters after the meeting: “The first thing I want to do is I want to apologise. This is our community and we have failed it when people needed us the most.

“So, no buts, no ifs, no excuses – I am truly sorry.”

She continued: “As new leader, I will appoint a new cabinet tomorrow and things are going to change.

“The first thing I’m going to do is to reach out to our community so we can begin to heal the wounds and the second thing I am going to do is to phone up Sajid Javid, as secretary of state, and ask for more help.

“I don’t know at this stage what that help will be like, what the plan will be, but I know that the thing we need is a plan for the community in north Kensington and that is what I’m going to do.”

Ms Campbell must now be formally elected by a meeting of the full council and a spokesman for the authority said the next scheduled meeting was on July 19, although an emergency one could be called earlier.

One Tory councillor said her election was a “formality” and Ms Campbell was now leader of the council “in practice”.

Ms Campbell was elected to the council in 2001 and has represented the Royal Hospital ward since 2006, according to the Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservative Association website.

The married mother of four was the council’s cabinet member for family and children’s services for four years between 2013 and 2017, stepping down in May this year.

She has also previously been cabinet member for education and libraries.

Robert Atkinson, who leads the Labour opposition group, said he believes the Government will need to send in specially-appointed commissioners.

Robert Atkinson
Labour councillor Robert Atkinson has questions for new council leader Elizabeth Campbell (Lauren Hurley/PA)

He said: “I will give her a couple of days. I have questions for her, particularly around what her housing policy is going to be.

“We will see if she’s able to engage and try and win the confidence of the people of north Kensington – that’s going to be a tall order.

“If she can’t do it, I’m sure the Government will move in commissioners. I think that the situation is bad enough, she’s got to get a grip and she’s got to get a grip quickly.”

Mr Atkinson said Ms Campbell had recently taken a leave of absence and had returned to “take the poison chalice”.

But he added: “She’s not one of the un-empathetic males that have made such a mess of it, she does have a bit more human understanding.”