LibLink: From Baftas to building standards – why Don Foster isn’t looking back

don fosterDon Foster begins his article in the Telegraph thus:

Having spent the first two years of the coalition government as a Lib Dem spokesman on culture, media and sport I knew what a gruelling schedule was, well before becoming Communities Minister.

Fitting in film premières, football and rugby matches, plays, and the BAFTAs was tough but somebody had to do it as the old joke goes. And I loved it. And now as the minister with responsibility for housing what have I swapped this for? Building regulations conferences.

Once he gets down to the serious business he tells us:

What started off after the Great Fire of London over three hundred years ago as a simple set of rules to prevent a blaze spreading from one building to the next has grown into an elaborate system that affects every aspect of construction. Some of these are very sensible rules, dealing with things like safety of construction materials, fire escapes, accessibility for disabled people and keeping buildings warm and dry and energy bills down.

But I was shocked to find out about the layers of additional standards and red tape, slapped on top of each other by the last government. There are now three sets of standards just on how to build a staircase, and guidance provides for two phone lines as well as broadband connection in home offices, irrespective of whether they’re needed or not. These are just two examples of how far things have gone. What’s more as these standards are voluntary some councils apply them and some don’t, creating a perplexing mish mash across the country.

His solution?

This is why I’ve set up an independent challenge panel of housing experts to advise on which building standards serve little or no purpose, confuse matters and we could scrap, all this without ever compromising rules on safety.

You can read the full article here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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One Comment

  • Peter Hayes 2nd Jan '13 - 9:43pm

    Sounds like he wants to go back to the 1960s, when my home was built, 2 badly placed power points in the lounge and one phone socket in the hall. Broadband is not for a Home Office, it is for a HOME. In fact Internet access is going to be mandatory for all disabled and unemployed if IDS has his way.

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