Will Buying Cheap mean Buying Twice?

Stuart Peall

Updated 08:30am 15/10/19

It’s not just Cllr Stuart Peall (Con) (pictured) Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Regulatory Services, Waste & Building control, at Folkestone & Hythe District Council who has concerns. On Oct 1st, at Win Pine House, Hythe, the Shepway Tenants & Leaseholders Board and East Kent Housing raised their concerns about Gas Call Services Limited,  the new contractor for heating systems, servicing, maintenance, inspections and installation works. They are due to start the contract in just eighteen days time and will work directly to and with East Kent Housing in the delivery of the contract for all 17,000 plus Council homes owned by Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils.

On July 3rd, P & R Installation Company Limited – the previous contractor for heating systems servicing, maintenance, inspections and installation works – contract ended after a dispute of £1.5 million, and allegations by the four Councils of Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils, who own East Kent Housing, due to  “a pattern of charging that appears to be a systemic fraud”.

P & R were replaced by Swale and others on a temporary contract 4 months, to allow the Councils to find a permanent replacement. On the 07/08/2019 in a joint procurement tender, led by Dover District Council, Gas Call Services Limited were appointed for a period of 33 months – Nov 2019 – March 2022, with a possibility of a year’s extension. The total value of the new contract with the extension is £18.5 million, approx £9 million pound cheaper than P & R’s £27 million pound contract.

One week before the Contract was awarded( July 31st)  Councillor Peall (Con) raised the concern that the bid price [by Gas Call Services Ltd] was also less than the previous contractor (P& R), who had given lack of profitability as one of the reasons for termination. This was also mentioned in Report-Number-C-19-16 at Para 5.1.

Now as we understand both the Shepway Tenants & Leaseholders Group  and East Kent Housing raised similar concerns amongst other things  and a letter has been written to the four Council CEO’s highlighting their concerns. Will they heed these concerns of residents?

Shaun Maclean

But who are Gas Call Services Limited? Well they are based in Glasgow and have their nearest office in Southhampton, according to their website. We understand that Gas Call have opened an office in Canterbury & Folkestone and are according to their website looking for qualified persons. Gas Call are ultimately owned by Duality Group Limited and has its headquarters in Liverpool. At year end March 31st 2018 Duality made a loss of £2.6 million year  and had net liabilities of £5.7 million. At year end March 31st 2019 Duality made a profit up of £83,000 and had net liabilities of £5.6 million. There are two persons of significant control of the company, they are:

according to Companies House. Between them they either have been or are the directors of 68 companies.

Gas Call successfully tendered for the heating systems servicing, maintenance, inspections and installation works and will work directly to and with East Kent Housing in the delivery of the contract. It’s tender was 32% cheaper than P & R’s, who cited a lack of profitability as one of the reasons for termination of their contract. P & R were backed by Bilby PLC – a company quoted on the London Stock Exchange. Gas Call do not have that sort of financial backing, or any local presence. Will it mean buying cheap, means buying twice? And can you at some point in the not too distant future, see Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils placing a new tender because of a lack of profitability in the contract.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Overview & Scrutiny, and then Cabinet will discuss the possibility of withdrawal from EKH and return housing management services back inhouse under direct management of the council, subject to formal consultation with all tenants (and leaseholders) to satisfy the requirements of Section 105 of the Housing Act 1985. (Otterpool Park has been put back to Nov 2019). However, the full Council on Wednesday will not have any input into this decision which affect many of their constituents.

If Cllr Connor McConville – Leader of the Labour Group  in the Council, who is pursuing the destruction of East Kent Housing, gets his way, EKH may not be around for too much longer and Gas Call Services Ltd might be working directly with all four Council, or off back to Glasgow, potentially leaving tenants in the lurch.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (906 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

8 Comments on Will Buying Cheap mean Buying Twice?

  1. So why exactly was this contract placed with Gas Call if everyone is so concerned?

  2. It’s a recipe for disaster and as a EKH tenant I am worried as the winter months set in

  3. doggerbank56 // October 14, 2019 at 09:31 // Reply

    Folkestone & Hythe DC should not award the contract without carrying out proper due diligence on all firms seeking to win the tender. if Councilors award the contract to a firm that fails to deliver (irrespective of the low tender price) they will demonstrate (yet again) that they are not fit for purpose and stand down from electoral office. Perhaps they should listen more carefully to the concerns of their tenants and leaseholders.

  4. Alice Through the Looking Glass // October 14, 2019 at 11:31 // Reply

    I’ve been told that Gas Call has an office in Canterbury & has just opened one in Folkestone, in readiness for the new contract. They’ve also got their new van fleet ready too.

    As a tenant, I have grave misgivings, frankly, about any contractor appointed by EKH!
    They have always just gone for the cheapest bid possible & we’ve ended up baring the brunt of it – for the most part, to the indifference & inertia of EKH to our misgivings/complaints!!

    When they first took on P & R, an engineer, who had transferred from Swale Heating, told me that P & R didn’t actually have any gas engineers , only plumbers, and a condition of the contract was to get some!!

    Whilst glad to see the back of P & R, am also dreading having Gas Call.
    I just hope the council does the right thing on Weds, & vote to pull away from the dreadful EKH, & bring everything back in house.

  5. so if P&R were awarded the contract in 2017 and it’s was 27m and Gass Call have the contract for 18.5m then the original contract was 4.5m each year for 6 years . Then Gas Call only has maximum 4 years then 18.5m devises by 4 is 4.62m.!!!! I think you need to go back to school and stop with this miss information and scare mongering. The other 9 million in your calculations has already been spent!!!

    • shepwayvox // October 15, 2019 at 23:13 // Reply

      P & R had a 3 year contract with a two year potential extension to the value of £27 million. P & R withdrew from the contract after overcharging was discovered, 2 years and threee months into the contract. Then Swale and others took over temporarily. Then Gas Call won the new tender on 33 month contract plus a year extension for £18 million and will start on the 1st Nov 2019. There is NO other nine million and facts are NOT scaremongering. If telling thew truth is a difficult concept for you to take on board, then we suggest …

    • I assume from your intimation that SV has it all wrong, is scaremongering and spreading untruths that you may not have read and understood the clear and unambiguous evidence published by EKH, all four councils, the regulator for social housing and various press sources, or is it that you may possibly be connected to the EKH management “inner circle”

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