Grenfell and the changing housing landscape

Grenfell Tower was a tragedy with a very human cost. The shocking footage of the burning tower made international headlines, and continues to be a significant part of the public consciousness.  No arrests have been made and the investigation into the fire continues. What is more, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick has said it will be unlikely to be completed until 2019, based upon the amount of evidence.

Campaign group, Justice 4 Grenfell, is still fighting for answers. A recent billboard campaign saw three vans driven around London to mark the eight-month anniversary. Placards with the words “71 dead”, “And still no arrests?“, “How Come?” drove past many landmarks in the city, including the Houses of Parliament. The lives lost in the tragic event should not be forgotten as the whole industry strives to make positive changes. This includes the culture surrounding safety while offering value for money.

It appears supported by the interim report, that the regulatory system for fire safety is unfit for purpose. This is both during construction and occupation stages. Current regulations and guidance can seem complex and sanction processes considered weak. A better way for residents to escalate concerns also needs to be addressed. The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed that, while 299 of the 312 buildings tested in recent months have failed safety assessments, only 26 have had the dangerous cladding fully removed.  Only three have had replacement panels installed. The costs of new safety measures are also likely to be over £1 billion.

A better balance needs to be made between price and quality of housing. Landlords need to remember this when undertaking new builds and refurbishing existing buildings. Alan Heron, director of procurement at Places for People (PfP), is one who believes the landscape has now changed. “It took something as horrible as Grenfell for people to realise there’s a consequence to looking for the lowest price,” he asserts. “It’s refocused everyone away from ticket price and back to value, which is where it should have been all along.”

The UK is in an unprecedented housing crisis. One figure has put the amount of social housing needed as enough to fill the city of Leeds by the end of this parliament. Temporary accommodation should only be a stop gap. New quality homes are needed to create trust and security across the country. There is no price to be put on human lives, which are more than numbers on a spreadsheet.

Second Worldwide Wednesday 2018

This Wednesday (7th February) saw two fantastic speakers bring together people who have travelled, worked, studied and/or lived abroad. Professor Michael Dougan of EU Law at the University of Liverpool spoke about his five main reasons for the EU existing and worth fighting for. Tabitha Morton of the Women’s Equality Party in Liverpool spoke about gender equality. The setting Avenue HQ is a great venue on Liverpool’s waterfront offering space for these regular WWW monthly events. Every month this enables people from different backgrounds and nationalities to meet, learn from and share with each other in an informal, relaxed environment.

Professor Dougan’s 5 points were:

  1. The EU plays a central role in peace on the continent and has created consolidation between France and Germany, and  Ireland and the UK among others.
  2. Co-operation between states has led to sharing of information including science, and the ability to travel freely.
  3. Cross-border challenges like trade and the environment are met through collective actions.
  4. There is a unity of European values through the political model and a forum for cross-border collaboration.
  5. Each member state is sovereign and the EU is our representative on the global stage and successful at it.

He added if didn’t already exist we would have to create it.

Tabitha Morton who last year stood for the Mayor of the Liverpool City region, spoke about equality for women. This referenced the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave many women over 30 the right to vote for the first time. Even though we have come so far there is still a way to go. Tabitha spoke of the pay gap which still is in national news, the attitude towards care giving, the productivity gap and roles each gender feels pushed into, how the top boards of organisations are still in the majority male and the ways the media plays a part.

The evening was well attended and the next will be the 7th March, the day before International Women’s Day with i’m sure more great speakers.