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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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Creating places of vernacular democracy
Beata J. Gawryszewska, Maciej Łepkowski and Anna Wilczyńska

ironworks near the last subway station. 7 Railroad in Nowy Żoliborz: c. 0.5ha old railway siding in new residential area of multi-​family block of flats, activists try to convert it into community line-​park. 8 Górka Kazurka: c. 4ha urban wasteland with a high hill in the biggest Warsaw multi-​ family block-​of-​flats residential area –​ Ursynów. City wastelands Table 3.1 (Cont.) Country Town Case study no. Place name and characteristics 9 Sielecki Canal: c. 2ha urban wasteland near multi-​family housing area and a big communication node near Siekierkowski Bridge

in Urban gardening and the struggle for social and spatial justice
The case of Ortobello Urban Garden
Giuseppe Aliperti and Silvia Sarti

city of Perugia has a higher number of unused buildings compared to the peripheral areas (ISTAT, 2017). The combination of these phenomena  –​the depopulation of local residents and the abundance of properties to rent –​have attracted mainly students and foreign citizens to live in the historic centre of Perugia. As a result, this area is mainly populated by young people, such as undergraduate students, living alone or in shared flats (ISTAT, 2017); whereas foreign citizens are mostly present in the neighbourhood of the railway station and in the historic centre

in Urban gardening and the struggle for social and spatial justice
Joe Gerlach

). carriage to see a dozen or so early risers staring at newly installed television screens on the backs of seats. No one has paid the £3.95 subscription to watch re-runs of trash television. Instead everyone is making do with watching a yellow spot flashing in the centre of a map. As the train pulls out of the station (speed: 16, 17 … 18mph; altitude: 177ft), the flashing yellow spot remains fixed in the centre, but the base map slips from right to left at jagged intervals; from Didcot, down a touch to the south-east, and on to Reading (figure 2.3). In this instance

in Time for mapping
The visual art of Tim Robinson/Timothy Drever
Catherine Marshall

subvert. The concept of the folded map as a landscape that can be purchased at petrol stations and tourist shops is as subversive of the modernist order as the non-religious subject painting was in the sixteenth century. And following Paul Klee’s tenet – that art reveals the visible rather than imitates it – Robinson’s maps go on to unveil secrets hidden in the landscape and voices and sounds long forgotten. The landscape of the West of Ireland first emerged as a popular and increasingly saleable strand within Irish art with the publication of Edmund Burke’s A

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
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Jenny Pickerill

-powered cliff railway, organic gardens, displays illustrating wave, solar and wind power, selfbuild houses and compost toilets. 8 Cyberprotest CAT’s website (www.cat.org.uk) was first launched in 1995, and has been re-launched several times since. CAT utilises CMC to advertise the centre and encourage visitors. It also provides those unable to visit the centre with access to ideas about alternative technology (such as tip-sheets about using sustainable technologies). The website answers many of the most frequently asked questions about alternative technology, deflecting

in Cyberprotest
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Who profits and how
Stuart Hodkinson

chapter 2, this magic mantra was part of a wider accounting trick designed to place a veil over what PFI and other forms of privatisation and outsourcing have really always been about: an enormous state-sponsored transfer of wealth from the public sector and individuals to corporations and the 1 per cent – the global elite. This chapter dissects this complex profiteering step by step to show how PFI has transformed some of England’s social housing – like other forms of public infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads and railways – into a highly lucrative asset

in Safe as houses
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The Myatts Field North PFI horror show
Stuart Hodkinson

stations, roads, stadia and railways as well as housing. Following significant losses on certain construction contracts, in the early 2000s John Laing PLC sold off its construction, property and house-building divisions to concentrate on growing its PFI and PPP business. In December 2006 it was acquired by the Jersey-based private equity arm of PPP infrastructure giant Henderson Group and taken into private ownership. Under Henderson, John Laing Group set up a number of separate listed global infrastructure funds that it provided management services to: John Laing

in Safe as houses
Stuart Hodkinson

-owned enterprises, utilities and major infrastructure assets have been privatised, within the UK’s oil, gas, coal, steel, water, electricity, ship-building, telecommunications and car-making industries, as well as within the country’s transport sector, such as the port authorities and railways. Although promoted by Margaret Thatcher as expanding economic ownership to the masses under ‘popular capitalism’, privatisation actually did the reverse: much of the estimated £200 billion25 raised was handed to the rich in tax cuts, while the portion of shares held by individuals in UK

in Safe as houses