Forged gas certificates, issues with non compliance of gas safety certificates, fire safety; pensioners left without heating for weeks, children unable to stay in their homes, pipes left leaking for weeks, failed appointments, missed safety inspections, are just some of the allegations made by tenants and Councillors about P & R Installation Company Ltd (P & R). Others are double payments , overcharging and potentially fraud. This is a company who won a £27 million pound five year contract with East Kent Housing (EKH) back in April 2017 and yet nothing appears to being done to prevent these payments according to well placed sources.
P & R officially started at 5pm on Friday 31 March 2017, providing central heating, emergency 24/7 gas and hot water repairs to over 17,000 council homes across Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet, otherwise known as East Kent Housing.
These four councils make up East Kent Housing the largest arms length management organisation(ALMO) in the country. The Almo’s main objective is to achieve economies of scale that will improve tenant services. However, in EKH’s sixth financial year -1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 – they recorded a loss according to the financial statements of £1.3 million and a total comprehensive loss for the year of £3.2 million. In 2015/16 they recorded a loss of £1.1 million. This was all documented by the Head of Finance at EKH – Charlotte Spendley (pictured), who has since moved onto to become Head of Finance at Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC).
FHDC signed a £6.3 million pound contract with P & R. Dover have signed for £7.9 million, Canterbury for £8.9 million and Thanet for £4.8 million a combined total contract value of £27 million over 5 years with the possibility of one further extension of 3 years.
P & R are responsible for annual gas safety checks, boiler installations and servicing as well as providing a 365 day, 24 hour emergency service.”. They are utlimately owned by Bilby Plc a company quoted on the London Stock Exchange. “Phil Copolo (pictured) founded the business in 1977, incorporated P & R in 1997 and has built up the company for 40 years… He applies his experience to new client and tender opportunities and leads the Group’s acquisition strategy.”
So far P & R have received from the four councils the princely sum of £3,038,096. FHDC since April 2017 have paid the sum of £832,622. Dover District Council have paid £825,859. Canterbury have paid £711,038 and Thanet have paid £668,577 according to their payment to suppliers data.
Earlier this year we raised issues around fire safety, which came up in an EKH audit. Aprimary finding of the report states: there appears to have been no monitoring by senior management either at East Kent Housing or the 4 partner authorities of the outstanding actions and the expected costs.
Tenants, Cllrs and the Shepwayvox Team have seen and heard alleged complaints of forged gas safety certificates, substandard work and possibly criminal behaviour. If such behaviour is true then EKH should be seriously looking at tearing up the contract. We hope there is monitoring of this situation going on by EKH senior management and the Canterbury, Dover Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Council’s. Playing with peoples lives by failing to monitor fire risk assessment or 24/7 gas maintenance contracts, are risks which cannot and must not be sensibly ignored.
One year into P & R’s contract we have been hearing a cacophony of growing dissent and dissatisfaction among tenants who live in EKH’s 17,000 properties about the quality of service they are receiving from P & R. Also we add, staff at EKH raised issues as ealy as Jan/Feb of this year, but little if anything has been done due to their position within the organisation. It is our belief the lack of leadership by the Chief Exec of EKH Deborah Upton and her two directors Mark Anderson and Matt Gough, in terms of both act and failure to act, will, we honest believe, destroy EKH going forward.
Moving on we set out to find individuals who would speak to us. And we were not short of takers. We heard from all four corners of the districts and tenants more than substantiated and supported the earlier murmurings of discontent about P & R that we had heard locally.
In our investigation we found a positive ground swell of potentially riotous tenants who believe wholeheartedly that P & R is not fit for purpose. Members of the Shepwayvox Team have spoken to and heard from more than 500 EKH tenants – Pensioners, the disabled, mums and dads and families over the last twelve weeks, too many of them tell the same story, they can’t all be wrong can they? Below is just a short selection of comments made by tenants.
P & R offer appaling service and staff so rude. Swale Heating were much better.
I agreed 3 appointments, waited in and a no show on each occasion, when I phoned them they weren’t bothered.
48 Hours and counting without heating and hot water. I have two babies at home. How do contractors think this is acceptable?
EKH. As per your normal form another broken promise broken. No one turned up after I was assured 3 times they would come last night. Vulnerable disabled adult left in a house with not heating or hot water. Again P & R lie. Enough is enough I have had enough over the year of your incompetence and no more of your placatory letters will work. Time for the press I think.
Muppets P & R heating who have left me with no heating or hot water for coming up to 3 weeks. It’s a joke.
We recently booked a repair and despite staying in – the contractor failed to turn up. On calling P & R they said they had attempted contact but there was no answer. Needless to say after making it clear that it was not correct; that potential fraudulent claims were possibly being made under the service level/s of contract; the “emergency plumber” turned out the same evening to do the repair. Mind you we had to repeatedly call to chase up the P & R management for this to be done.
Even the previous contractor – Swale heating – were subject to weekly monitoring as their performance was considered not acceptable, according to minutes of the East Kent Housing Board. Swale Heating’s performance in delivering breakdown and emergency repairs did not meet the performance standards set by the contract. And as the table below shows, targets for emergency and routine heating repairs were missed consistently.
Now to be fair to EKH they say they are investigating the matters raised by tenants. We hope any investigation will be made public as soon as possible, as alleged criminal behaviour by P & R may be involved.
Coming back to P & R though, it is not just tenants who have contacted us, Cllrs from across all four Councils have written to us stating they have received a large amount of complaints about substandard work carried out by P&R. The catalogue of complaints is gruelling to digest. The compalints they have seen and dealt with have been available online on Facebook for several months and all of the Cllrs we spoke to have recently been contacted by East Kent Housing tenants with more complaints, many more.
The list goes on and on, but it can be summarised as this:
Pensioners left without heating for weeks, children unable to stay in their homes while they waited for P&R to return to finish work, pipes left leaking for weeks, failed appointments, missed safety inspections and perhaps worst of all, they have received alleged complaints of forged gas safety certificates, substandard work and possibly criminal behaviour.
The Cllrs who wrote to us say they have a long list of questions for East Kent Housing, the councils and whoever gave this firm such a huge contract across four different districts. The catalogue of complaints is undeniably long but how has this been allowed to happen? Who is responsible? And, what will the councils now do about it?
Well, in this digital age tenants can ask them. Please be polite if you send an email to them.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Cabinet member for housing is Cllr Alan Ewart-James(pictured below left). He sits on the East Kent Home Improvement Agency Combined Support Group and the East Kent Housing Owners’ Committee. He can be contacted on
Also FHDC Cllr David Owen (picture above middle) – Chairman of the Council is FHDC’s representative on the Board of Directors for East Kent Housing. His email is
The Chief Executive of East Kent Housing is Deborah Upton (pictured above right). She is responsible for leading East Kent Housing and ensuring that it delivers on the priorities agreed by the Board and the four local authority owners. Deborah is a qualified solicitor and has held a number of senior roles in local authorities, over a twenty year period. she can be contacted at
Then of course one can always contact the providers, P&R Installation Company limited and their parent company Bilby Plc.
firstname.lastname@example.org – phone 07436 817965
email@example.com – phone 0800 345 7000
Or Mr Phil Copolo (pictured above right) at
In the 21st Century it must be possible to get Gas Engineers employed on a Council contract to a house to bring heat and warmth to pensioners, the disabled, babies, children, mums,dads and families. We just hope that the East Kent Housing investigation is made public and manages to resolve the issues raised by so many dissatisfied EKH tenants, after all they are the customer; and as the saying goes “the customer is always right.”
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime.
All data for the graphs has been drawn down from the respective councils payment to suppliers data.