At 6pm on the 10th June 2019, The East Kent Housing Board convened at Garrity House, Aylesham. Present were the following people :James Queay – Chair, Cllr Trevor Bond (Con) (Dover), Cllr Lesley Game (Con) (Thanet), Cllr David Godfrey (Con) (Folkestone & Hythe), Scott Seaman Digby Collins, Martin Goard, Jamie Weir, F&HDC Contracts Manager Andrew Rush, EKH Officer Jo Pearman, EKH Director Matt Gough, EKH Director Mark Anderson and the EKH Chief Executive, Deborah Upton (pictured).
There were 16 items on the agenda that evening, however our focus is on, Agenda Item 9. This was the Heating and Hot Water Contract which was about how “a lot of Landlord Gas Safety Record (LGSR) information had been withheld”, by P & R
The Board discussed the role of GCS (Gas Contract Services Ltd) and expressed dissatisfaction that, in spite of their audit role, they did not appear to have fulfilled their brief.
Now GCS are the independent Gas Compliance contractor, the people were supposed to audit (check) the work that Gas Contractor P & R said they done had been done. We first wrote about GCS on June 17, the day Mr Anderson was dismissed. We wrote then that they were failing to “fulfill their brief“. GCS also do follow up telephone customer satisfaction surveys by phoning EKH residents (they take a reasonable sample)
(see 4m 18 seconds onwards of video).
So Folkestone & Hythe District Cllr David Godfrey, Cabinet Member of Housing, Transport and Special Projects, F&HDC Contracts Manager Andrew Rush and Chief Exec of EK Deborah Upton knew that GCS were not fulfilling it’s brief on the 10th June 2019. None of them elected to inform the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the 16th July of this important fact.
Now according to Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s payment to suppliers data, the Council have paid GCS a total of £113,300. Since Dec 2018 they have paid GCS £79,500, and ” in spite of their audit role, they did not appear to have fulfilled their brief.” Is this further evidence of contract management failure by East Kent Housing?
So as P & R were withholding information and GCS weren’t checking P & Rs work how can we know for certain the number of LGSR reported to Councils as being outstanding was 544?
This is not the first time there have been significant problems with Contract Management by East Kent Housing. Problems have been encountered with a number of contracts including those for:
These problems have included a failure to detect and challenge poor performance by contractors, a failure to challenge overcharging by contractors, and a failure to detect and challenge a pattern of charging that appears to be a systemic fraud.
In her previous two jobs, the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing Deborah Upton experienced claims of overcharging and fraud happening on her watch. Overcharging was proven in both jobs. However, the fraud report while she was at Circle Housing, never saw the light of day.
From the recorded facts publicly available it is reasonable to assume that Deborah Upton mislead the Overview & Scrutiny Committee when responding to Cllr Prater on the 16th July, by omitting the fact she was aware that GCS had not fulfilled their brief, then used them to support her claims that effective audits of P & R’s work had taken place, when they clearly had not. Also her claims that forged gas safety certificates hadn’t happened was misleading as well.
We ask then who else she might be misleading?
The four Councils who own East Kent Housing?
The EKH Board?
The Overview & Scrutiny Committee?
It is our opinion; which is supported by factual evidence in the public domain, the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing, Deborah Upton, when present at 16th July Overview & Scrutiny Committee consciously misled the committee by omitting facts know to her. We hope that when she comes before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 10th Sept she will explain her actions and not misled them again.
Drugs and East Kent Housing’s failure to terminate tenancies.
It is known by Folkestone & Hythe District Council officers that there are certain individuals who live in properties in the district, managed by East Kent Housing, who have, and who continue to deal Class A & B drugs. Some of these people have been sent to prison for eighteen months or more. Once their sentence was over, these individuals returned to the properties they previously had.
It has been alleged by Council officers the debt for rent owed was written off for some of these individuals. How and why tenants/drug dealers are allowed to return/remain in the properties after committing a criminal and arrestable offence is not known to us? It would appear on the balance of probabilities the tenancies ought to have been terminated in accordance with the tenancy agreement?
Any questions you might have can only be answered by the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing Deborah Upton, Head of Paid Service, Dr Susan Priest (pictured above left)and Cllr David Godfrey Cabinet member for Housing (pictured above right) as it is their joint responsibility to ensure the contracts are managed properly and that tenants who sell class A & B drugs from Council properties are removed in accordance with the tenancy. You can contact them via email at
The Shepwayvox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent