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Housing ministry finally appoints chief scientist

A chief scientific adviser has been appointed to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government after several years of the department lacking a proper CSA.

Alan Penn, a professor in architectural and urban computing at University College London, will now take on the role, the ministry announced on 2 July. This will include offering advice on the Building Safety Programme set up in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

The ministry was sharply criticised in 2017 by Norman Lamb, the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, for failing to appoint a permanent CSA to the position. Since 2012, departmental analyst Stephen Aldridge has been acting CSA but it was revealed in parliament that, in practice, he did not provide scientific advice.

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