The Long Read: P & R Installation Company Ltd.
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 fraud.
P & R is the 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.
Matt Hobbs (pictured below right) Managing Director at P & R Installation Company Ltd at:
email@example.com – phone 07436 817965
firstname.lastname@example.org – 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 Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime.
All data for the graphs has been drawn down from the respective councils payment to suppliers data.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have experienced P & R and had to move out due to having babies and no heating or hot water. In my humble opinion they are worse than awful. Swale were much better, but not perfect.
F***ing awful company. Hope EKH ditch them asap.
They lied to me, saying they had been but I wasn’t in. Unfortunately for them I have CCTV outside the house and believe you me, during the 24 hours they claim to have come to the house there is no P & R gas plumber standing outside my house. EKH are no better as they say they are investigating but this is the third time in three months P & R have told porkies to me and EKH have seen the evidence.
I went on Holiday to Devon, upon my return I had a gas certificate stuffed through my letterbox and guess what, somebody had forged my signature. Not an accusation but a fact. You have my email so contact me for the evidence.
Thank you for just airing this issue. I have had serious issues as a disabled pensioner with
P & R.
Had many a problem with them from missed appointments to shoddy work still not happy with boiler but sick of being told nothing wrong can’t be had parts replaced although parts in my eyes can be faulty or did they even replace them !!!
I was left for 5 weeks with sporadic heating after they installed a new boiler which they installed wrong! There were weekly failed appointments with no contact as to why! Then I finally lost it on the phone after the woman told me the engineer had been but because he didn’t have a ladder he didn’t stick around! Why he needed a ladder to fix the boiler I don’t know! When he finally turned up he told me he went to the wrong house the first time so he hadn’t even been here! The job has since been checked and they still haven’t done the job properly! They didn’t drain and clean the system, they have failed to install lagging on the pipes and one of the new parts they installed to regulate the temp is not secured to the boiler it just hangs off! I can’t even bring myself to call them about sorting it out because I know they will fail AGAIN!
December 2017 and January 2018 I was without heating for most of this time.
The boiler has broken down again, it’s taken over a week for an oil engineer to arrive, when he did arrive still couldn’t fix it so ordered a part it’s taken over a week to get part. I have had to phone them to see if it the part has arrived. I was told it should be here Thursday after 1pm. This is a really rubbish firm with bad attitude from office staff.
Well done, this investigation is brilliant. A friend of mine stayed in upwards of 12 times waiting for P&R who did not turn up but insisted they had. At one point a “senior” staff member turned up on the appointment day (boiler safety, all these) to find out why my friend was never in when her engineers called. He always was and was sat there waiting for said engineer when she turned up. I wish we had kept records of each date and time and complained to EKH. Unfortunately this was over 3 months ago now. He did explain to the P&R staff member everything that had been happening and she apparently seemed mortified. After this visit it still continued on though. My own gas safety check went ahead this year but last year’s one never happened. They didnt turn up, I called them 3 times, they just kept saying they would call me back and never did and I couldn’t progress it. Mental & physical disabilities make it so hard to stay on top of all the calls and chasing people. It messes with your head and borders on the surreal. I hope they didnt charge EKH for all those fake appointments. We all need to be gas/fire safe. Thank you so much for investigating.
Bunch of f**k*ng cowboys ***** & w*nk*rs.
It took 7 months to get parts fitted to my boiler to stop it cutting out leaving myself and two daughters with no hot water or heating. Once they finally got to fitting it, turned out I needed a new boiler. Several failed showings without notifying me to say they weren’t coming after having to take days off work. Emergency calls made due to no hot water or heating during the cold months and no one turned up. Awful company.
Back in Nov they done my heating and looked at my boiler and still to this day I have no paper work to say my boiler is OK .6 times they were meant to come out and no show. They r a waste of my time and everyone elses. Also if I have my water on I cannot have the heating. DDC say if we are not in for a safety check then they will break in. Well, I’ve been in they have not turned up or done a good job as my boiler is all open. I’m not happy at all
P&R engineer arrived today with part that was ordered 10 days ago but still no heating. They now think it might need the pipe from the tank to the boiler cleared they suggested this in January but decided against it so now waiting to see when they will be back i have had a call from there office today to see if engineer turned up and was the work complete, sorry to say work not completed watch this space…
Absolute cowboys , 3 cancelled appointments for our annual gas safety inspection and when they did finally arrive it was a quick 20 minutes and gone , still haven’t got my gas safely certificate
As of January 2019, in Canterbury, there is a “final warning type letter” crudely masking taped to the main security door for the block of 8+ flats inside. It’s stayed on the main entrance door lambasting the tenant of one flat inside for allegedly not letting P&R in to gas boiler safety check the property. A bit of a f*** you look how hard we tried letter. Why it’s displayed on the main security door sans envelope via masking tape and not politely posted is anyone’s guess.
This property is empty. Prior to stroppy letter notice and still now for over a month. And the boiler I guess just will stay unchecked and potentially unsafe for the next tenant to have to grapple with.
The could spend some of their millions checking occupancy status. ffs.