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Tories keep hold of Kensington and Chelsea council despite outrage over Grenfell Tower tragedy

Labour had hoped to seize control of the West London council 

Chloe Farand
Friday 04 May 2018 11:22 BST
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Local Elections 2018: The results so far

The Conservative Party managed to retain the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea despite public outcry last year over the Grenfell Tower disaster and criticism of the council's response to the tragedy which claimed the lives of 71 people.

Labour had hoped to seize control of the West London council, a Conservative stronghold since 1965 and is often described as a Tory "crown jewel".

But the Conservative group held on to a comfortable majority, taking 36 seats, while Labour only managed 13.

Advance Together, a new independent party, which was launched after the Grenfell fire last year, did not win a single seat.

It had said that it wanted to field candidates across the borough for greater transparency and accountability within the council.

Labour group leader Robert Atkinson said the Tories had been "humbled" by the result and he vowed to continue to help those affected by the fire.

"Please put your trust in the enlarged and invigorated Labour group," he said. "We have your interests at heart and we will continue to hold this lot to account."

Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said her team still had a duty towards those affected by the tragedy. She acknowledged Labour's gains and promised to be open to "new ways of working".

In a speech at the count, she said: "I think we all recognise we still need to rebuild trust. And to do that we need to earn trust. And we need to earn it day by day and by our actions, not just by our words."

She added: "We also recognise that all of us in Kensington and Chelsea live in the shadow of Grenfell. And Grenfell was, Grenfell is and Grenfell will be our first priority."

Almost half of previous Conservative councillors decided not to run in the election. Among them was former leader Nicholas Paget-Brown, who stepped down along with his deputy after the fire.

Ms Campbell said the election had brought in a whole array of new faces she hopes will "refresh and the renew" the local Tory party.

Additional reporting from agencies.

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