Deborah Josephine Upton (pictured), Chief Executive of East Kent Housing (EKH) was awarded a nine thousand six hundred and eighteen (£9,618) pound pay rise in 2018/19. Since Mrs Upton took the top job at East Kent Housing in April 2016, the number of non-compliance issues with significant pieces of legislation across many significant key controls have not operated as intended and failures across non compliance issues has grown substantially. These failures mean the Regulator of Social Housing is now investigating the matters.
Eighteen months after Ross House was placed in EKH’s management, we learn that the intolerable non-fire compliance work necessary will not be sorted until May or early June 2020, more than two years after the Council purchased the property in 2018.
But of course, Ross House is not the only damning indictment of Deborah’s failed tenure as Chief Executive of East Kent Housing, who has been awarded a near £10,000 pay increase in 2018/19.
Lets not forget in Deborah’s time see: Appendix 3 – for your eyes only , multiple inspections across all four Council areas have shown there to be
Approx 4,800 issues identified in fire risk assessments
Around 2,000 faulty emergency lights across all four Councils, as such Councils may be in breach of Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
830 Electrical Installation Reports of which 230 unsatisfactory issues with both C1 Danger Present – Risk of Injury. Immediate remedial action required. Testing for C1 and C2 identified in 2016 and still not been rectified.
Lift servicing: 4 lifts non compliant for 575, 426, 393, 91 days.
Little or no action taken on 1,916 recommendations made on Legionella Risk assessments, of which 930 have been categorised as high risk
And who could forget the 924 Gas Safety Certificates, which led to questions being raised in the House of Commons by Rosie Duffield MP
Due to a breakdown in trust, the four Councils who own East Kent Housing are undertaking a consultation to close East Kent Housing as a company and bring their housing stock back in house. The result of the consultation will be publicised in January by each Council.
Mrs Upton came to East Kent Housing via Circle Housing and prior to that Medway Council, where fraud, overcharging and disrepair were all issues. The same issues have raised their heads while she has been at East Kent Housing.
It would be unfair to blame everything on Deborah. We believe some of the blame must rest with Folkestone & Hythe Council, plus the elected representatives who had responsibility for Housing and being the Council Board representative on the EKH Board.
Step forward former Cllr David Owen (below left), Board Member between 17th Oct 2016 and 31st May 2019. And thereafter as the Independent board member until the 1st Oct 2019. Former councillor David Owen (Con) lost his district seat in the May elections. In his last fall year as a Cllr, 2018/19, he collected £13,619 pounds in allowances and expenses.
The Cabinet member for Housing during this period was former Cllr Alan Ewart-James (above right), who collected £16,725 in allowances and expenses for 2018/19.
The Internal Auditor discovered in Sept 2017, significant and damning findings that EKH had not managed the issues around fire risk assessment The Internal Auditor reported evidence of significant errors or non-compliance with many key controls not operating as intended resulting in a risk to the achievement of the system objectives.
Less than a year later we reported on the failures of M & R Refurbishment near £200,000 overcharge, nor can we ignore P & R Installations £1.5 million overcharge. Both contracts managed by EKH. The latter is suspected of “a pattern of charging that appears to be a systemic fraud”
Neither Cllr, nor those Council Officers responsible for interfacing with EKH noticed any of these peculiarities reported in Appendix 3. Issues dating back to 2014, have still not been resolved, even though these matters were raised after 1st April 2016 when Deborah joined up for service with EKH. Since then she has done little to address the intolerable health and safety conditions tenants have had to endure.
We find it despicable, distasteful and disappointing that Deborah has been awarded a salary increase. We believe she ought to return every penny.
Tenants lives matter and Tenants lives have been placed at significant risk which have been ignored due to non-compliance with many key controls not operating as intended under her leadership.
We believe it is time for Deborah to jog on without any golden handshake, she is a menace to social housing we honestly believe. Neither her legal skills or her management skills are sufficient to rectify the matters she has left behind her.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful