July

Regular updates from our Digital Content Executive, Sam Cleal

 

CIEH Excellence Awards Shortlist Announced

24 July 2017

CIEH Awards Shortlist

We’re excited to announce that the shortlist for the CIEH Excellence Awards is now available.

This is the first CIEH Excellence Awards we’ve ever held and the quality of the entries has been exceptionally high. We’d like to thank everyone who entered - your time and effort means a great deal to us. We’d also like to thank our judges who worked incredibly hard to put together a diverse shortlist of outstanding nominees.

The buzz on social media was fantastic; those who were shortlisted shared their nominations across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn using #CIEHExcellence. If you’ve yet to share the good news, please post on your preferred platform and tag us in a celebratory post using the hashtag. Go ahead… boast a little!


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We’re now looking forward to the CIEH Excellence Awards ceremony on Thursday 2nd November. You can register your interest to attend here and make sure you join our new Facebook event to keep up with the latest developments and find out more about the nominees.

Congratulations to everyone shortlisted – we’ll see you in November where we’ll find out who the winners are!

 

Cottages and Tower Blocks

11 July 2017

Saving school meals

Guest blog by Will Hatchett, EHN Editor 

100 years ago, Britain was cut off from Europe and threatened by an imminent food crisis. There was also a growing housing problem, just as there is today.

It wasn’t just that there weren’t enough homes to match the number of households, politicians knew that men would soon be coming home from the war – men who had high expectations. Women, too, had exacting standards when it came to domestic matters, and were about to get the vote.

That’s why, exactly 100 years ago, an idealistic architect turned Liberal MP, Sir John Tudor Walters, was asked by the government to produce a report that answered questions like: how many houses do we need? where? who should build them - councils or private builders? how will this be financed and what should they look like?

Tudor Walters drafted the socialist architect Raymond Unwin onto his committee – a man who, with his half-cousin Barry Parker, had already designed New Earswick model village, Letchworth Garden City and Hampstead Garden suburb. They were inspired by Ebenezer Howard, the late Victorian visionary who had dreamed up the idea of ‘the garden city’ (featured) and accidentally invented town planning.

Duly delivered in 1918 and suffused with Edwardian optimism, the Tudor Walters report led to an official government design manual. Backed by primary legislation in housing and town planning, it would generate a large number of attractive and affordable houses.

These houses were soon being built, though not in the large numbers that housing minister Christopher Addison wanted (he resigned in disgust 5 years later). The ones that were built, in individual groups or ‘council estates’, pleased thousands of ex-soldiers and their wives. Subliminally, they form a landscape that we think of as typically English.

Interestingly, the standards outlined in the Tudor Walters report are far superior to what we require of social housing today: 2 storey houses in short rows of 4 or 6, each with gardens built at no more than 12 to the acre. Inside there was a living room, a bathroom, a water closet, a larder, a coal store and sometimes a parlour.

We should be very proud of the architectural legacy that Tudor Walters and Unwin bequeathed us. Unfortunately, in many parts of England today, you would have to own a small private fortune to afford the kind of house that they thought that everyone should have.

 

What can we learn from Grenfell Tower?

3 July 2017

Saving school meals

Guest blog by Will Hatchett, EHN Editor 

The charred remains of Grenfell Tower will cast a long shadow. Perhaps, like Ronan Point (a tower block destroyed by a gas explosion in 1968) the image will serve as a visual metaphor for a system, or a series of systems, that failed.

Shocking images of the fire, which broke out on 14 June, filled the news and there has been considerable analysis since. Important implications for environmental health professionals are already arising. On the front line are practitioners working in housing management, building control, planning, architecture and fire safety.

Safety audits of high-rise blocks have been ordered and potentially criminal investigations of the owners, managers and contractors of Grenfell Tower have been initiated. A public inquiry has been promised. The latest number of dead and missing victims has been reported at 79.

Under scrutiny is the role of sprinklers and alarms in enhancing fire safety in tower blocks, as well as the flammability of cladding, the alleged breaching of fire stops by new pipework installed in Grenfell Tower, the ‘stay put’ advice for tower block fires and the alleged failure of the building’s managers to listen to tenants and leaseholders’ concerns about safety.

Commentators may point out that these matters were highlighted after the Lakanal House fire of 2009, which killed nine people in Southwark and led to detailed guidance from the Local Government Association. Yet, 8 years later, the tragedy of Grenfell Tower was allowed to happen.

EHPs cannot but have a profound interest in the fire and its implications. They will have concerns relating to emergency response, the adequacy of fire and building regulations, the scrutiny of contractors, and the shortage of temporary and emergency accommodation for those waiting for an ever-shrinking stock of affordable social housing.

Perhaps Grenfell Tower will ultimately provide us with lessons about the supply and management of social housing: perhaps it will also tell us that deregulation has gone too far. It would be wrong to pre-empt the findings of inquiries and legal processes yet to take place, but whatever the messages of the disaster are, for the sake of those who have died, we cannot afford to ignore them.

 

Smoking related litter major concern for DEFRA strategy

1 July 2017

Litter

Guest blog by Ian Gray, Co-Director, Environmental Health Collaborating Centre 

It has been a constant complaint since the implementation of smokefree legislation in 2007 that smoking outdoors has increased the amount of litter on our streets.

Although compliance with smokefree laws remains high, and the number of smokers is falling, litter remains a problem with 73% of sites surveyed having some form of smokers’ material visible on England’s streets.

This litter poses a safety risk, is an environmental hazard and cleaning it up costs local authorities a great deal of money.

The new litter strategy report from DEFRA confirms this is indeed a persistent and widespread problem and research from Keep Britain Tidy states that “cigarette butts, matches and discarded packets are the most littered item in the country”.

Whilst the Government’s proposals address a range of littering and fly-tipping concerns, no specific proposals are made in relation to cigarette litter.

The need for public education is emphasised, as well as for clean environments to signal that dropping litter is not socially acceptable. However, there is no reference to the increasing adoption of local prohibitions on smoking in outdoor public places, including children’s play areas, parks, beaches and even outdoor urban areas.

Alongside this Strategy, Defra have published a consultation document which seeks views on whether there should be an increase in fines for littering and related offences which have not changed since 2006.

As we celebrate 10 years of smoking ban, the problem with smoking-related litter demonstrates that there is still room for greater consideration of environmental health interests, and there may be opportunities through participation in the various advisory and working groups. Indeed, campaigners for tobacco control and environmental management could collaborate to encourage Defra to hold the tobacco industry accountable for the environmental problems their products create – the polluter should pay.

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