“We’re Making It Up As We Go Along”

In the last few days, the four Chief Exec’s of Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe & Thanet Councils have been meeting with East Kent Housing staff.

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The four chief execs are also the four directors of East Kent Housing board, who manage the 17,000 plus housing stock owned by the Councils. They took over after dismissing the old board on 12th Dec 2019.

Thirteen days later via an email from the four Chief Executives of CanterburyDover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet councils to all EKH staff, it said:

  • “Deborah Upton has considered her position  in light of the four councils consultation with tenants and leaseholders on taking housing services back in house, as well as the recent changes to the board, she has decided now is the right time to step aside.”

The consultation about whether or not to bring East Kent Housing back in house ended on Friday 20 December. A final decision will be made by Councillors in February 2020.

Fast forward to this week and the board’s chairman Colin Carmichael of CCC, who earned £117,000 in 2018/19, made it clear to all present at both meetings, they (the board) “were making it up as we go along”; which might not inspire confidence in EKH staff

Although no explicit statement about the housing coming back in house was made by the chief execs, it was made clear that it is more probable than not this will happen.

They made clear there were more jobs than people available; and that those eligible for TUPE (not many are, as we understand) will be transferred back in house and those who are not will have to re-apply for their jobs.

Dr. Susan Priest of FHDC made it clear there will be a senior housing job advertised on the Council’s website in the next few weeks.

As we understand Thanet Housing has been advertising jobs to EKH staff, offering a one year contract. This means that if a person took up the job offer, then after a year Thanet could be got rid off the individual and they’d not be entitled to any redundancy pay, as we understand.

It cannot be reassuring for any of the East Kent Housing staff who were so badly let down by Mark Anderson and Deborah Upton, to hear from the Board’s chairman that they don’t know what they’re doing; and they’re making it up as they go along.

The staff of East Kent Housing need leadership & certainty not wishy-washy statements, the like’s Colin Carmichael as board chairman gave them. In their shoes, we would be deeply concerned too.

The Shepwayvox Team

The Velvet Voices of Dissent

About shepwayvox (1820 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

13 Comments on “We’re Making It Up As We Go Along”

  1. An EKH Employee // January 31, 2020 at 08:33 // Reply

    At the meeting I attended, all four chief execs were talking over each other. Their egos were very much evident. The fact we got four speeches when one would have sufficed, continues to prove there are four hymn sheets, not one. This continues to be an issue. Keep up the good work.

    • Another EKH employee // February 2, 2020 at 19:32 // Reply

      I completely disagree, I found that the 4chief executives were working well together, considering they all have different stock levels, budgets and vision for the future. Some have intensive building programmes, some don’t. Some have larger homelessness, county lines/drug rings and compliance/investment issues etc. It’s not going to be a perfect 25% split so why do you think they’d all have the same view point? They have their own priorities and that’s okay. It’s one of the reasons EKH hasn’t worked – let’s respect that and move forward.
      As a colleague of yours, I don’t understand why you continue to slag off the organisation and councils so much. Its not a terrible place to work, it’s paid your bills and if you hate it so much, leave.
      We all want the best for our tenants, why not focus your attention on them rather than trying to make us (and the organisation) look even worse? It’s not helping matters.
      The business has failed largely due to lack of decision, investment and management fee, let’s hold our heads up high and look forward to a brighter future. For both us as staff and the residents.

      • EKH staff member // February 6, 2020 at 14:42 //

        Looks like Colin Carmichael’s here and replying to messages – he does earn quite a lot, so it’s right and proper he exercises his little fingers typing rebuttals to everyone who’s trying to hold him to account! Or perhaps he’s deployed his comms minions to do his bidding?!

  2. doggerbank56 // January 31, 2020 at 14:24 // Reply

    If the Chairman has been correctly quoted (and I have no reason to believe that he has not) then the staff of East Kent Housing have to consider their options very carefully. They have been very badly let down by the Board and their former senior managers. In addition, many of them will have had to bare the brunt of the criticism directed at East Kent Housing by its many unhappy tenants.

    What they need to assess is whether accepting an in-house role with one of the four councils will be an improvement or merely a continuation of the same old problems. It is up to the Chief Executives of each authority to demonstrate (with actions rather than words) that things will get better for staff and tenants alike. After all, that is what they are being paid for.

    If the Chief Executives are unwilling/unable to step up to the plate then the staff of East Kent Housing should start looking for new roles in better managed organisations.

  3. Trying to present a picture of unity whilst, behind the scenes, desperately trying to get out of the blocks first to get the best staff for their Councils. Dover already started this just under a year ago and you can be assured there will be plenty of tapping up going on behind the scenes to make sure individual Councils will be very well looked after in the new arrangements with a disregard for their “partners” The fairest way to do it would be for the Councils to all advertise their new jobs at the same time but there is no way this will happen.

  4. Another EKH employee // February 1, 2020 at 10:29 // Reply

    I was also in attendance at one of the meetings with staff and was very impressed at how much the chief executive’s understood the situation, they understood Housing, how much it has changed since pre-EKH and employment/TUPE rights. They praised the talent and resilience of staff and promised to do their best and get it done well. They obviously can’t promise much but I came out with more confidence than when I went in.
    I have years of experience in working in housing and I know that they need experienced people. They are not looking to do any redundancies or mess people around. They want the best for their tenants and said that a number of times.
    In the meeting I was in, the chief execs didn’t speak over each other, and answered the questions thrown at them very well.
    Let’s be a bit more positive here, it’s a stressful situation for many people and doesn’t have to be portrayed so negatively.

    • EKH staff member // February 6, 2020 at 14:40 // Reply

      Go away Colin….or perhaps it’s Head of Comms at Canterbury City Council, Leo Whitlock who’s writing these comments….sad either way.

  5. Local chap // February 1, 2020 at 16:40 // Reply

    I’m an EKH leaseholder in thanet, if as the previous comment suggests the council leaders were/aware of the problems how did it get the state it is now? I’ve been in contact with EKH and TDC regarding the abysmal performance of all involved for several years. TDC knew it and let it carry on as it was more convenient to direct cash away from EKH and maintenance and keep it for other purposes.
    There are undoubtedly some very professional EKH staff who will be feeling abandoned by the councils and their own leaders, similarly there are those within EKH who are beyond hopeless , incapable of telling the truth or looking into matters properly.
    Its become an organisation led by those looking to further their careers, no doubt they’ll all move on and join their respective council cronies.
    The whole experiment has been a complete disaster and will cost millions to put right.
    My understanding is that there are a good number who’d be more than happy to blow the whistle on what has occured within EKH and the councils, but they know they’ll be looking to secure a job in one of the councils and as mortgages, bills , family life are important to them they’ll keep quiet.
    The bills many of thanets flat leaseholders are looking at in the next few years as a result of lack of legislative compliance and deferred maintenance will bankrupt them and cause untold misery.

  6. If we are talking about the total underfunding of EKH maybe someone should be asking some questions about the £12 MILLION Dover Council moved out of the Housing Revenue Account at very short notice and very much below the radar back in 2013 to use as normal expenditure. £12 MILLION that could (and should) have been used for Council tenants. How much would this have helped EKH fulfil its legal obligations?

  7. An EKH Employee // February 4, 2020 at 07:34 // Reply

    I too was at one of those meetings and I never heard the word leaseholders once. Tenants yes, leaseholders no. It’s known Deborah received emails from leaseholders about their service charges, as did some of the Chief Exec’s. But none of them responded, not one. None obeyed the law and provided leaseholders with a breakdown of their service charges when requested. Nothing has changed and nothing will change and they’ll continue to be ignored and fleeced.

  8. Local chap // February 4, 2020 at 20:25 // Reply

    Leaseholder addresses are not registered in the Mears system, so if you call to report a problem (common areas etc) you have to give a flat number that you know is a council flat or it’ll not be logged.
    My leasehold charges at times must have come out of a lucky dip, everything needs querying as the porkies told are unbelievable. Trying to make a complaint and having it dealt with is a pythonesque experience that can take years to get answers.
    Criminal or incompetent, take your pick.

  9. EKH staff member // February 6, 2020 at 09:42 // Reply

    It’s one of those situations where you either have to laugh, because it is so ridiculous, or you have to cry.
    The chief execs are all utterly incompetent, and were simply looking to take it back in house to further their final salary pensions – I’d expect they’ll have a few more pounds in the pay packet now and most are on their way out of the door (colin carmichael, nadeem aziz – probably madeline too).
    The chief execs have only got exercised about it (having known about the compliance issues for a long time through their deficient client managers and councillor board members) at this point because they want more control over their respective fiefdoms.
    It’s a real shame, as the organisation was just coming to a point where it was being led by a decent board that had integrity and seemed to care about the residents as well as having the experience to change the way things were. I’d expect most of the compliance issues are now getting worse under the chief execs….
    The real tragedy is the impact on the fantastic staff who have worked tirelessly, and the thousands of people they support across the districts.

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