Councils dismiss housing board and take control

Four councils have dismissed the board at East Kent Housing (EKH) and taken direct control of the organisation after an independent report highlighted several issues around health and safety.

The detailed report by independent housing experts Pennington Choices was commissioned by Canterbury City Council, Dover District Council, Folkestone & Hythe Council and Thanet District Council after problems were discovered with gas safety checks, water hygiene checks, electrical checks and fire safety checks at a relatively small number of council homes managed by EKH on their behalf.

The report says a number of factors lead to the failures, including a lack of leadership and the perception of staff at EKH that saving money was a key priority.

It also said there had been a ‘collective failure’ between EKH and the councils to award contracts and engage suppliers in a timely manner.

It also recognised the difficulty encountered by EKH working for four different councils with different political, strategic and operational priorities leading to a ‘dysfunctional relationship’.

In a statement, the chief executives of the four councils said: ‘After reading the conclusions reached by the independent experts into what went wrong at EKH, we had no choice but to take swift and decisive action to take direct control of the organisation, along with its hard-working and committed staff, to ensure any outstanding health and safety checks are completed and any faults found are tackled as a matter of urgency.

‘While significant progress has been made on tackling health and safety issues and gas safety checks are now up to date, the new board will be better placed to direct resources to tackle the issues raised.’

The Regulator of Social Housing has been kept informed of developments.

‘We are in the process of asking tenants and leaseholders for their views and they will be reported to councillors in each authority for them to make a final decision in the new year,’ the statement adds.

Photo Credit – Jo Johnston (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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