An East Kent Internal Audit makes clear there are justifiable concerns over the gas safety certificates fiasco. The preliminary findings of the audit into East Kent Housing, which are yet to be reported formally, indicate that there may be areas of non-compliance across the following areas – Fire Safety, Electrical Safety, Lifts and Legionella.
Two of the four district Council have now issued reports relating to the Gas Safety Certificate fiasco. They are Dover District Council (Agenda Item 5 page 26 ) and Canterbury City Council (CCC)
In late May serious issues surfaced in connection with the management, of the heating contract, run by P & R, who are owned by Bilby Plc, these concerns have included landlord gas safety records (LGSR) amongst other issues.
In late May the number of outstanding LGSR’s had risen to approximately 400 across the four councils, say CCC in their report. Yet just two bullet points later, CCC say: Following the notice to break their contract, April 2019, there appeared to be a rapid decline in the completion of LGSRs, (by P & R) with 544 across East Kent (125 in the Canterbury district) outstanding by 24 May 2019, or late May.
By the 1st June 465 LGSRs were outstanding according to to EKH.
The three sets of figures – 400, 544 and 465 – are in late May beginning of June. Furthermore, Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield’s letter to the SoS for MHCLG James Brokenshire MP, makes it clear as of the 7th June the number of outstanding LGSRs was 924 (7th June), a rise of either 524, 328 or 459. All figures are a considerable rise in two weeks, whichever figure you choose to believe. So why the spin by the Councils over the numbers?
The CCC report states: “EKH (and, therefore, the Councils) are in dispute with P&R about low levels of performance.” It goes onto say: “As a result of the contract dispute, part of which was a claim by P&R for additional payments which were refused, the company issued a notice to break their contract.”
P & R overcharged the Councils between £1m -£1.5m. In March/April P & R offered all four Councils somewhere in the region of £600,000 as a refund for the overcharging, then requested additional payments but the Councils rejected the offer. At the end of March 2019, P & R issued a notice to break their contract. The contract will end on or around the 3rd July. We reported on this on the 12th April 2019.
The CCC report goes onto say an East Kent Internal Audit makes clear there are justifiable concerns over gas safety. The preliminary findings of the audit are yet to be reported formally, but early indications indicate that there may be areas of non-compliance across the following areas – Fire Safety, Electrical Safety, Lifts and Legionella.
Both Dover & Canterbury are offering to carry out a consultation with Council tenants on withdrawal from East Kent Housing, including the option of bringing the housing management function back within the Council’s direct control.
CCC’s report sets out the options for Cllrs to consider
CCC’s report makes it clear there are a number of options for the future delivery of housing services. These include:
Continue with EKH on a reformed basis
Continue with EKH as a shared service, but not an ALMO
Return the service in house (as a consequence of either an independent decision to leave the ALMO or collective agreement to dissolution of the ALMO)
To return the service in house and enter into partnership with another organisation to provide the service or some services
The Chief Executives of the Councils are agreed that it would be wise to commission a piece of work that would examine these options in more detail. East Kent’s four district Chief Executive’s are meeting EKH’s Chief Executive Deborah Upton on a weekly basis to monitor progress with regard to issues of noncompliance outlined in CCC’s and DDC’s reports.
The Shepwayvox Team
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