Watching the news over the last few weeks you’d be forgiven for believing nothing much else has been going on aside from the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. However, the world has carried on turning. Here are a few news stories from the past few weeks that may have passed you by if you got sucked into watching the Royal Wedding and even (like me) begrudgingly ended up enjoying it.
1) Over recent days there have been talks of a ‘Brexit Backstop’ plan being published, a fall-back arrangement for what will happen if a final agreement isn’t agreed. This backstop plan is likely to guarantee that there will not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, something that is a very contentious issue. Brexit Secretary David Davis is rumoured to be threatening resignation over this issue, but at the time of writing he is still in post..
2) The Hackitt report on building regulations and fire safety, which was commissioned following the Grenfell Tower fire, was published on the 17th of May 2018. In it a number of recommendations of ways to increase the safety of those who live in high rise buildings were been laid out, however these mostly focus on renovation, management and construction and it controversially did not suggest the prohibition of Grenfell-style combustible cladding. Since the publication of this review Rebecca Evans AM has stated that Welsh Government will move to ban this type of cladding.
3) On the 21st of May 2018 the official inquiry into the Grenfell Tower Fire opened with a 72 second silence to symbolise the 72 deaths, followed by victims and the bereaved giving tributes to those who died. This public inquiry will be centred across two stages; the first stage will give families and friends of those who died an opportunity to honour to their loved ones, and will then examine the events on the night of the fire and the response of the emergency services. The second stage (which may not commence until next year) will focus on the lead up to the fire, specifically on the decision to use aluminium-polyethylene cladding.
4) Vaughan Gething finally announced he will be running for leadership of Welsh Labour. At the time of writing he currently has four AMs backing him, and will need at least one more to support him before he is officially able to run. . If he secures this extra support then he is likely to be the centrist candidate, following in Carwyn Jones’ footsteps. This is in contrast to stepping to the left like the Westminster Labour Party has under Corbyn – which is expected if Mark Drakeford is successful in his leadership bid.
5) The Housing Review panel has been announced and will be made up of: – Dr Peter Williams, an academic from the Department of Land Economy at The University of Cambridge and an independent consultant on housing, policy and mortgage markets – Helen Collins, the Head of Housing Consultancy at Savills – Professor Kevin Morgan, the Professor of Governance and Development and Dead of Engagement for Cardiff University – Dr Roisin Willmott, the Director for the Royal Town Planning Institute in Wales – Phil Jenkins, the Managing Director at Centrus. This independent panel will look into affordable housing supply in Wales and will offer expertise in a range of areas both within Wales and the UK as a whole. The remit of the review will hopefully