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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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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.

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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
Stuart Hodkinson

than one local authority area, called the ‘primary authority’ scheme. This involves firms paying one local or public authority to regulate all of its sites nationally, helping to ensure the ‘absence of inspectorial enforcement in the vast SAH.indb 39 30/01/2019 12:44:49 40 Safe as houses majority of its outlets’.62 Overall, research has found that there has been a long-term downward trend in enforcement activity on the part of statutory regulators, with the average workplace expected to see an inspector ‘once every 50 years’.63 As we will now see, this

in Safe as houses
Stuart Hodkinson

. Different parties who might be considered to embody or defend the public interest – residents, elected politicians, courts, regulators and safety authorities – are not able to exercise democratic scrutiny over the decisions and actions taken by the public and private sector partners. I will show that accountability has been specifically designed out of outsourced delivery in three main ways: first, through an extreme form of self-regulation in which the public authority has very little oversight over private sector compliance with the required contractual standards and

in Safe as houses
Open Access (free)
Mapping times
Alex Gekker, Sam Hind, Sybille Lammes, Chris Perkins, and Clancy Wilmott

the map user with them and bringing into being new mobile possibilities. Throughout that period, Google Maps rose to become the de facto mapping platform for millions around the world. Fighting off direct challenges from rival technology companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple (as well as from several regulators and government agencies), Google also contested interventions 4 Time for mapping from the likes of OpenStreetMap (OSM), and acquired an ever-growing number of technology start-ups from Waze to Skybox Imaging, to strengthen its position as the most

in Time for mapping
Analysing the linkages and exploring possibilities for improving health and wellbeing
Warren Smit

, Lyon and Potts, 2007 ). They ‘control the selling space and can therefore exclude others and have wider effects on the vegetable production and marketing system’ (Lyon, 2003 : 20). In Maputo, for example, ‘the market committees provide infrastructure (water, toilets, etc.), maintenance and security services, and organise cleaning in their respective markets … The committees also act as the principal regulators in the markets’ (Lindell, 2008 : 1889). Local governments also usually play a role in managing marketplaces, partially because trader fees can be a

in Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city