New gas safety & maintenance contractor selected but should Deborah Upton continue to lead East Kent Housing?

Screenshot from 2019-07-17 01-49-28

The Governance Manager of East Kent Housing witnessed an East Kent Housing tenant address Deborah Upton, the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing (pictured), about a forged gas safety certificate. This issue has never been reported by either Mrs Upton or the Governance Manager. Yet Deborah Upton categorically denied any such incidents had happened when she appeared at the last Overview & Scrutiny Committee (O & S Committee) on the 16th July 2019. She went as far as informing the O & S Committee that is was illegal and then made suitable noises that none of P & R‘s gas engineers would be so stupid as to forge a gas safety certificate (36 mins onwards). Yet her own Governance Manager witnessed a tenant inform her that just such a thing did happen.

We believe the Governance Manager is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

At the next Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the 10th Sept 2019, (agenda item 7) we note that three of the seven documents relating to the investigation into P & R have been withheld under paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972. If we cannot have Openness or Transparency with regards to monies that has been passed to P & R – who no longer exist as there mother company Bilby PLC closed them down on the 1st August 2019 – when the elected opposition Greens, Labour & Liberal Democrats all vowed to bring Openness & Transparency, what was the point in voting for them, if they cannot keep their promises and get these documents into the public domain?

shepwayvox@riseup[dot]net Cllrs

At Para 3.6 of Report Number OS/19/03 it states:

  • EKH has since commissioned the Housing Quality Network (HQN) to undertake an independent investigation into non-compliance of LGSR across its housing stock. The report was presented to the EKH Board on 22 August 2019, the results of which will be shared with the four councils.

Yet strangely on East Kent Housing’s website, there is NO meeting registered for the 22 August.

Screenshot from 2019-09-02 21-55-21

Even given the benefit of the doubt that there was a mistake and they meant the 2nd of August, there are no documents available for the public to see for this meeting either  This though is NOT unusual as the Agenda Packs may be disseminated to the EKH Board but no minutes have been published in 2018, none whatsoever.  So EKH is an organisation which appears not to be an open and transparent organisation.  Deborah Upton is the Chief Exec and the buck stops with her. When will all the documents be available or are they to be redacted and hidden from public view? If so what is there to hide Mrs Upton?

gascall

At the Special Cabinet meeting on the 31st July 2019 the new Contractor was discussed. The name of the contractor was withheld at the behest of East Kent Housing, however we can tell you that the new contractor is Gas Call Services Ltd (logo above) whose registered office address is 2 Queenslie Court, Summerlee Street, Glasgow, G33 4DB.

Cllr Peall was concerned over the price of the bid and the quality of the bid and this is made clear at Para 5.1 of Report Number C/19/16 where it states:

  • There were however two concerns raised, firstly the company (Gas Call Services Ltd) has no current operation in East Kent so it would need to establish its service here from the ground up. The second concern was that the total price of the contract was significantly less than the next best ranked bidder and the overall average bids received. For comparison the bid price was also less than the previous contractor (P& R), who had given lack of profitability as one of the reasons for termination.

Gas Call Services Ltd based in Glasgow are owned in turn by the Duality Group Limited based in Liverpool. The Duality Group make clear in their accounts there may be potential legal costs on the horizon. They state at note 22 of their accounts, lodge at Companies House on the 8th March 2019:

Screenshot from 2019-09-02 22-59-15

In the near future we will take a much deeper look at the Duality Group and Gas Call Services Ltd. But for now we’ll leave you with what Dover District Council have discovered across there housing stock:

  •  1,490 actions identified in the fire risk assessments

  • That only 63.8%  electrical installation condition report (EICR) were in place.

  • There were 275 high and 240 medium risk legionella actions that need to be undertaken

  • EKH did not historically hold asbestos data. However, EKH were able to access asbestos data through the contractor’s portal and arrangements were being put in place to ensure that in future the data would be held by EKH as well.

We hope the same information will be released across the Folkestone & Hythe District Council stock. Dover District Council’s report clearly demonstrates that East Kent Housing is NO longer fit for purpose and must go. The service ought to be brought back in house as too many tenants have been placed at an unacceptable level of risk and the buck stops with the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing Deborah Upton, who too ought to be sacked with immediate effect.

The Shepwayvox Team

The Velvet Voices of Dissent.

About shepwayvox (878 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

9 Comments on New gas safety & maintenance contractor selected but should Deborah Upton continue to lead East Kent Housing?

  1. doggerbank56 // September 3, 2019 at 16:48 // Reply

    It is up to our elected representatives to hold her to account. Those tenants affected by this fiasco should contact their local councillor(s) asking them what questions they intend to put to Deborah Upton and they should copy in Shepway Vox to their email and any responses received.

  2. EKH Employee // September 3, 2019 at 20:04 // Reply

    As an EKH employer given a choice I’d back the Governance Manager. They are an honourable person.

  3. Having experienced working for Mrs Upton, she’s not an honest person in my humble opinion.

  4. Trouble is that if councillors take action against Mrs “don’t you know who I am, I’m a very important lawyer” Upton they then shine a light on their own disgraceful failings, it was obvious the day the LGSR scandal came to light that in getting rid of Mark Anderson she was only saving her own neck in my humble opinion, and saving face in front of Cllrs and the cameras. She seems to be making a habit of sacking scapegoats and targeting whistleblowers, as history has recorded. The governance manager will be needing a stab proof vest me thinks ?

  5. doggerbank56 // September 5, 2019 at 08:09 // Reply

    The Governance Manager should take legal advice for her own protection with particular reference to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

    https://protect-advice.org.uk/

  6. The current legislation in place to protect whistle blowers is not worth tuppence, it did not stop the persecution and harassment at medway council or circle housing and will not protect anyone at EKH. As predicted those that have a conscience and have spoken out at EKH have I’m lead to believe been the targeted by senior management in contravention of the whistleblowers legislation. Don’t forget any alleged campaign waged against those employees by the senior management team, is I would venture to suggest, with the full knowledge and support of at least some councillors, bearing in mind that Ms Upton allegedly answers to the board who in turn answers to the four councils ?

  7. doggerbank56 // September 9, 2019 at 09:53 // Reply

    It does have force if you take an employer to a tribunal. Also, unlike other types of unfair dismissal claim there is no limit on the compensation payable. However, one should not go down this road without taking legal advice first hence my attached link above.

  8. Very good advice doggerbank56. When I said “not worth tuppence”, what I should of said is that in my humble opinion it does nothing to “protect” from bullying/ harassment or indeed a any hostile actions against a whistleblower. It seems to be a totally reactionary piece of legislation and only of any use if you have legal backup and “after the fact”, ie when you have invariably already been sacked on a trumped up charge and are well down the road to a tribunal.

  9. doggerbank56 // September 10, 2019 at 14:51 // Reply

    Thank you for your reply Rosie. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 was introduced following various scandals in which individuals working within organisations did not feel able to complain about bad practices or corruption (links below).

    I agree that the legislation is backward looking but, if the culture of an organisation is too toxic for an employee to want to raise their concerns my advice (based on actual experience of using this legislation) is to get out of the organisation taking as much relevant documentary (in paper form) evidence with one, finding a new role and then only once one is secure in that role reporting the toxic organisation to the relevant regulator.

    Tribunal cases are taxing particularly if one wants to move on with one’s life/recover from a traumatic experience. In such cases my experience is that it is better to let a regulator do the work particularly if they have been supplied with compelling evidence of wrongdoing.

    If one is a trade union member one can ask it for legal advice but, I cannot guarantee that they will always want to fight on your behalf. The alternative is to check if your home insurance has legal protection cover included. If it does check if it will cover you for employment tribunal cases.

    https://www.osce.org/secretariat/89940?download=true

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Interest_Disclosure_Act_1998

    https://www.tltsolicitors.com/insights-and-events/insight/employment-appeal-tribunal-decision-on-whistleblowing-reasonable-belief-in-public-interest/

Leave a Reply to Rosie Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: