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.
boundary (Howard, 2007). Protracted efforts were made
by both the Irish and UK governments to fortify and demarcate the physical
divide. The government in the Republic further disengaged from Northern
Ireland in order to protect its people from what was perceived to be its destabilising relationship with the North (see Howard, 2007) and the British army
constructed a series of checkpoints and watchtowers across the length and
breadth of the border, making once easy passage fraught with difficulty.
The possibility of fostering cross-border economic cooperation stood very
work on a nuclear-war atlas that warned against the ultimate catastrophe, atomic Armageddon, the end of human life as we know it.
Bill Bunge, spatial science and map transformations
Bunge’s first exposure to formal geographical talk was in 1951. Conscripted for the Korean War, serving in the American Fifth Army, deployed at the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Wartime School at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, Bunge (1988 , xi) taught there what he later called ‘atomic war’. It was also while he was enlisted in the US military that he enrolled in his first class in
Gladwin and Christine Cusick
Figure 1 Map of the Burren by Robinson (cropped left corner overview).
make certain claims on culture and history. Robinson diverges from this ideological approach of practising cartography as a way to claim territory and establish
ownership. In My Time in Space, he clearly articulates the dangers associated with
map-making in Ireland:
I am acutely aware of the fact that cartography has historically been associated
with conquest, colonization, control. The Ordnance Survey was a function of the
army. Therefore I have taken care that the
nonetheless signifies a crucial step towards such biopolitics.
Finally, Minard, who is renowned as a pioneer in the representation of numerical data through visualisation, and who is generally recognised as having developed the symbolisation of flows independently of Harness, produced a famed
map charting Napoleon’s disastrous march to Moscow in 1812 (see Figure 8.3).
The failure of this endeavour marked the beginning of the decline of French
hegemony in Europe. The map measured the diminution of the French army
in terms of geographic location, as well as
the webs of
power that constitute contemporary restructuring. The much-prized labour
mobility and flexibility of the insider ‘portfolio people’ is reproduced through
the practices of outsider ‘precarious people’ (Cox, 1999: 87) – a reserve army
of contingent workers in factories, offices and homes. The ‘outsiders’ cannot
be defined in terms of a single class, and indeed the overwhelming trend is
towards a fracturing of common working identities, a ‘patchwork quilt
characterised by diversity, unclarity and insecurity in people’s work and life’
(Beck, 2000b: 1). In
Alex Schafran, Matthew Noah Smith and Stephen Hall
, like a boulder blocking a path, then freedom is simply the absence of that boulder.
This approach to thinking about freedom is understandable. So many of the obvious sources of people’s suffering have involved the interference of armies, religious institutions, the nobility, state actors, and so on. For example, the freedom to practise religion was for centuries compromised by direct intervention by the Church or by state persecution. It makes sense to treat the presence of ‘negative freedoms’ as a crucial component of freedom.
in the PFI contract to the principal contractors it has chosen to deliver the construction project
and the subsequent long-term management and maintenance of
the new or renewed public infrastructure. These companies then
further sub-contract different aspects of their individual contracts
with the SPV to a small army of private sub-contractors, who in
turn do the same. It is also common for the SPV and the main
sub-contractors to employ private contractors to perform building
control and other forms of quality compliance monitoring on
the dozens of different sub