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Town Hall safety chief leaves £100k job after less than a year

Keith Scott 'played an important role' in wake of Chalcots estate crisis, according to council leader

11 October, 2018 — By William McLennan

Keith Scott arrived at the council last November

A LEADING safety expert appointed by the Town Hall in the wake of the Grenfell Tower trag­edy and the Chalcots estate crisis has left his post after less than a year.

Keith Scott began his £100,000-a-year role in November last year in what was heralded as a “new era of resident safety” as Camden Council took a fresh approach to risk management after the evacuation of the tower blocks in Adelaide Road.

The director of resident safety post was billed as groundbreaking, but his departure has led to questions over the council’s long-term commitment to change.

Mandy Ryan, who lives at the top of one of Chalcots’ 23-storey towers, said: “It makes you wonder if they really are serious about it. We felt confident we had someone overseeing everything and now he’s gone.”

The New Journal understands that Mr Scott has left for a new role at private firm Serco. He is an industry leader, having worked as head of safety at Royal Mail and the Ministry of Justice. He served four years as chairman of the Institute of Risk and Safety Management.

On his appointment, Mr Scott, a former Labour councillor in Greenwich, said: “If you want to put it in plain speak: my job is to try and help people not have to suffer bad things.”

His appointment had been welcomed by residents of the Chalcots estate, where 3,000 people were forced to leave their homes at a moment’s notice after a series of fire safety failures were identified in the days after 72 lives were lost at Grenfell Tower in west London.

Bob O’Toole, chair of Burnham tenants’ and residents’ association, said: “It’s shame on Camden. They should have given him a longer contract. He’s got things started, he got the ball rolling, he was always on top of things, but we don’t know who’s coming in now. I hope they’re as good as he was.”

Belsize Lib Dem councillor Luisa Porritt said: “Officers, including Keith himself, have sought to assure us that an appropriate structure will be left in place following his departure, though his degree of experience and authoritative presence will surely be missed.”

Anthony Royle, chair of Bray Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said there was an “information vacuum”, with no clarity over whether Mr Scott would be replaced.

He said: “As far as I see Keith has fulfilled all the things we expected. It was a surprise, I was quite shocked to hear he was going as he only just got his feet under the table. It’s a disappointment that he is not continuing.”

Labour council leader Georgia Gould said Mr Scott had “played an important role in helping us deliver a new standard of resident safety in Camden”.

She said that a “strong in-house team” had been recruited in the past year, adding: “We are absolutely committed to continuing our focus on the highest standard of resident safety and will begin the recruitment process for Keith’s replacement im­mediately.”

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