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LFB Commissioner steps down months ahead of retirement

LONDON Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton is to retire four months early following criticism of the service’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire, it was announced today.

A statement from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) said her departure on December 31 was agreed “to enable a timely handover” after discussions with City Hall.

The announcement comes as the service is looking to act on the recommendations of the Grenfell injury report.

LFB’s first female commissioner, who was due to retire in April, had been facing pressure to resign from bereaved families and survivors of the June 2017 blaze following a recent critical report on the service.

The first report from the Grenfell inquiry found that the LFB’s preparation for a tower block fire such as Grenfell was “gravely inadequate” and its lack of an evacuation plan was a “major omission.”

Commenting on her retirement, Ms Cotton said she was “proud” and “honoured” to have served alongside London fire service staff.

Grenfell United, the official organisation for bereaved families and survivors, welcomed Ms Cotton’s announcement.

In a statement, the group said: “This change in leadership is needed to keep Londoners safe. [Inquiry chairman] Sir Martin Moore-Bick raised serious concerns that the LFB was an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of Grenfell.

“The phase one report has important recommendations for the LFB. The incoming commissioner must ensure that they move swiftly to implement those recommendations and be determined in their efforts to ensure the lessons of Grenfell are learnt.”

Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members in the fire, said it was a “disgrace” that it had taken this long for Ms Cotton to step down.

And Flora Neda, who lost her husband in the blaze, said she was “happy” about the news of Ms Cotton’s early retirement.

“It’s a step forward for us,” she said. “It makes us feel not quite as hopeless, it gives us hope that justice will be done.”

A spokeswoman for campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said Ms Cotton’s early retirement should be followed by changes to the fire safety policy and the implementation of the public inquiry recommendations.

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