Ad Astra

Alistair McIntosh, Chief Executive, HQN

Wasn’t the Queen’s speech thrilling! So much for boring old Brexit. Who cares about Europe, we’re going to roam the galaxy instead. Easily the best bit of Boris’s ventriloquist act was the launch of a space strategy. Where did he get that brilliant idea from? Maybe he had a cosy night in watching the latest Brad Pitt film. We don’t need Brad Pitt, we’ve got our own. Come on Boris get into your Action Man space suit now! You must boldly go! 
So, the bits about outer space were great. Sadly, a lot less thought went into the stuff about planet earth. Yes, we know he is going to do something about making homes safer. But not much more than that. Will we find out more about this when the Grenfell Inquiry report comes out? I do hope so.  
Boris’s sister did write movingly about her friends in the tower. So, you would think that would help. In fairness it’s not that simple to put the Hackitt report into practice. We all need to change the way we work. You can’t rely on tick lists. As one-time Grenfell resident and safety expert Gill Kernick puts it, you need to stop blindly complying with the rules and go out looking for trouble. Gill coined the phrase “chronic unease” to sum up the approach she wants to see. That’s the only way to spot the gaps between what a building is meant to be like and what is really there. Tenants or frontline staff usually see what’s going wrong well before the top brass do. So, listen to them. Here’s a link to Gill’s blog. 
The RSH press home Gill’s points in their new risk paper. You’ve got to have top notch accurate data on your homes. And you’ve got to keep it bang up to date. That’s the starting point. But there’s more to it than this.  
Sometimes people with serious mental health issues can trigger fires. You’ll have read about these cases. This will still happen even if you have a perfect modular home that you know everything about technically. So, you need eyes and ears all over your stock to keep people safe.  
And you must go looking for trouble wherever it lurks. The Queen’s Speech wants to cut pollution. Why is that? It’s because people are dying. Is the air around your homes toxic? 

What are you doing about that? Are you building homes where there is toxic air? Why? This could be the next scandal. While you are concentrating on the building safety regulator you could run foul of the Office for Environmental Protection. That’s why we need to set our minds to “chronic unease”.