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Private greed, political negligence and housing policy after Grenfell

As the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire of 14 June 2017 has slowly revealed a shadowy background of outsourcing and deregulation, and a council turning a blind eye to health and safety concerns, many questions need answers. Stuart Hodkinson has those answers. Safe as Houses weaves together Stuart’s research over the last decade with residents’ groups in council regeneration projects across London to provide the first comprehensive account of how Grenfell happened and how it could easily have happened in multiple locations across the country. It draws on examples of unsafe housing either refurbished or built by private companies under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to show both the terrible human consequences of outsourcing and deregulation and how the PFI has enabled developers, banks and investors to profiteer from highly lucrative, taxpayer-funded contracts. The book also provides shocking testimonies of how councils and other public bodies have continuously sided with their private partners, doing everything in their power to ignore, deflect and even silence those who speak out. The book concludes that the only way to end the era of unsafe regeneration and housing provision is to end the disastrous regime of self-regulation. This means strengthening safety laws, creating new enforcement agencies independent of government and industry, and replacing PFI and similar models of outsourcing with a new model of public housing that treats the provision of shelter as ‘a social service’ democratically accountable to its residents.

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Infrastructure, financial extraction and the global South

No struggle for social justice that lacks a grounded understanding of how wealth is accumulated within society, and by whom, is ever likely to make more than a marginal dent in the status quo. Much work has been done over the years by academics and activists to illuminate the broad processes of wealth extraction. But a constantly watchful eye is essential if new forms of financial extraction are to be blocked, short-circuited, deflected or unsettled. So when the World Bank and other well-known enablers of wealth extraction start to organise to promote greater private-sector involvement in ‘infrastructure’, for example through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), alarm bells should start to ring. How are roads, bridges, hospitals, ports and railways being eyed up by finance? What bevels and polishes the lens through which they are viewed? How is infrastructure being transformed into an ‘asset class’ that will yield the returns now demanded by investors? Why now? What does the reconfiguration of infrastructure tell us about the vulnerabilities of capital? The challenge is not only to understand the mechanisms through which infrastructure is being reconfigured to extract wealth: equally important is to think through how activists might best respond. What oppositional strategies genuinely unsettle elite power instead of making it stronger?

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Something rich and strange

Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.

Laurie Parsons

One of the central myths of our global economy is the idea of leading economies such as the UK having advanced beyond the dark and polluting days of industrial production. This is an idea promoted in both scholarship and culture, with post-industrial aesthetics celebrating the repurposing of former industrial spaces as sites of leisure and creativity. Yet, as this chapter shows, much of what appears to be progress is in reality a sideways movement, with the majority of industrial manufacturing sites in the global North remaining necessary, but having shifted to the global South. This hidden world of global production is the new frontier of the fight against climate breakdown. Not only does it undermine our ability to tackle global emissions, but smaller-scale impacts, too, are hidden amidst the complex logistics of our global production networks. In effect, climate change impacts, including the slow-burn disasters of droughts and floods, are outsourced by rich countries to producer countries in the global South. This introductory chapter will outline the disconnect between global narratives emphasising progress on sustainability and the dirty realities of contemporary production. As it explains, the global economy is not becoming greener, but better at hiding its impacts, channelling the worst effects of pollution and carbon emissions into complex international supply chains that are beyond the reach of regulators.

in Carbon Colonialism
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Peter Kalu

. All for a couple of pounds, and now and then a wiper or wing-mirror gone. Pretty similar to Knowsley Safari, but only five pounds. ‘Let’s do it again, Daddy, let’s do it again!’ 35  (Previous page) Soapsuds on a windscreen 134 Work He’s squirted foam on my wheels and wants me to inch the car forward. A double-palm stop again. Car washes have minimal set-up costs, no regulation, and I presume it is easy for owners, if they get into scrapes with licensing, tax or other regulators, to dissolve, disappear, fly. They are a fording point to other things, a wonky

in Manchester
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Renegotiating the Irish border
Sara McDowell

have had a significant effect on the everyday geographies of people living on both sides of the Irish border and have dictated and impacted their negotiation and understanding of it. Borders are dichotomously, as O’Dowd and McCall (2007: 129) note, both ‘regulators of movement’ and ‘make movement possible’; the ability to pass through them varies greatly across time and is dependent on a variety of social, political and economic factors. With the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and the onset of the recession in both jurisdictions in 2008, the dynamics and parameters of

in Spacing Ireland
Crispian Fuller

. First, the concept of the ‘me’ and ‘I’ has been subject to critique in relation to its dualistic approach. In later Mead (1934) , and approaches that have incorporated his thinking, such as symbolic interactionism ( Blumer, 1969 ), the ‘I’ of the individual is insulated from society (as not yet realised potential), while society is an external regulator and enforcer of social conformism ( Markell, 2007 ). Correspondingly, the ‘potentialities’ of the ‘I’ are only realised (or actualised) once they are recognised through the intersubjective ‘me’, but this limits the

in The power of pragmatism
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Safe and secure homes for all
Stuart Hodkinson

a con­dition fit for human habitation; where local authority enforcement is unable or unwilling to act, tenants will be able to take their landlord to court. However, with the slashing of legal aid, the SAH.indb 231 30/01/2019 12:45:03 232 Safe as houses ability of tenants to use these new rights will remain restricted. Since Grenfell, the government has also published a social housing green paper that puts forward vague ideas about stronger powers for the existing social housing regulator to empower residents and linking social landlords’ access to future

in Safe as houses
Nicholas Hildyard

parliamentarian or some imaginary group of supremely powerful global or national regulators. They arise from the pressing need to build alliances and to expand political space. They are born not of ‘politics as the art of the possible’ but, in the words of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, of politics as ‘the art of the impossible’ (Žižek 1999, p. 199). This does not preclude making policy demands that are directed at reforming existing institutions; but the interventions needed are those that are intended to change, not take for granted, ‘the very parameters of what is

in Licensed larceny
Mark Scott

development is unregulated or facilitated to support family traditions or perceived local priorities. In these cases, rural planning is characterised by informal regulatory arrangements and actual contraventions of planning law; the family is prioritised over the state in welfare provision and housing production and the state is an ineffective regulator of housing produced, and private

in Rural quality of life