Consultation hardly a resounding success

Not one of the four Councils of East Kent, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, and Thanet received more than seventeen percent support from tenants and leaseholders with regards to the consultation about bringing their East Kent Housing managed stock back in house; which ran between 22 October and 20 December 2019. Putting that into perspective 69% of tenants supported setting up East Kent Housing

Screenshot from 2020-02-10 10-30-46

These figures can hardly be called a resounding success or even an endorsement that coming back in house is what tenants and leaseholders truly want, there is NO evidence of that.

Due to nearly 10,000 compliance issues across all four Councils housing stock, set out in the July 2019 Tenant Health & Safety report, it became necessary for the Council to consider bringing their council stock back under their control. This prompted all councils to start the consultation process discussion. It was agreed by all councils to begin a consultation with tenants and leaseholders which started on the 22 October and ran until 20 December 2019.

 In Dec 2019 the decision to replace the board of EKH  with the four councils Chief Executives was taken

All council tenants and leaseholders across the district were sent a letter, information sheet and questionnaire  inviting them to give their views, and an online version of the questionnaire was available on the council’s website.

Additionally, key stakeholders including all district councillors of the four Councils, county councillors, MPs, Citizens Advice Bureaux, Kent County Council Social Services, Kent Police and the NHS were emailed directly inviting them to respond to the consultation. It would appear that few if any of the above actually bothered.

The full consultation reports are set out below. However, a snapshot of
comments made by respondents who strongly agree or tend to agree with
the proposal stated there was:

  • Lack of action by East Kent Housing to deal with repair and maintenance issues.

  • Lack of communication from East Kent Housing

  • Unhappy with the general standard of service provided by East Kent Housing

Full Consultation responses for each Council

Before bringing EKH managed housing stock back under Council control, guidance requires each council has undertaken a cost-benefit analysis and risk analysis exercise before reaching a final decision. All four Council’s Cabinets and full Councils need to consider the two documents before reaching a decision on the report’s recommendations.

The four councils as joint owners of EKH will need to achieve a mutually agreed termination of the contract, in accordance with the terms of the owners agreement. Once the process has been concluded, it is proposed that an in-house service be established through a two-stage process, as follows:

  • Taking the minimum legal and administrative action needed to close down EKH and pass responsibility to each council. This will involve transferring the housing management service from EKH to each council without significant change.

  • Drawing up proposals for the future housing service, which will cover new governance arrangements, organisational structures, integration with existing council services (e.g. call handling, property and grounds maintenance, community safety, communications and ICT) and the priorities and plans of the new service.

The four councils will establish a Transition Board to co-ordinate the overall East Kent project, with a transition delivery group, reporting to the board – the four Chief Execs – to manage the delivery of detailed workstreams. It is likely that officers within each council will also need to establish an internal corporate project management group to oversee the legal, financial, human resources and ICT work necessary to wind up EKH and to create new in-house services.

At this stage it is anticipated that the transition to new in-house services is likely to take up to one year. The financial year to 31 March 2021 would, therefore, be a transition year for EKH and the four councils. Establishing an in-house service, if agreed, is complex and will take time to set up. It is therefore assumed that this would need to be completed and the new in-house service fully operational by 1 April 2021.

All those in senior management at East Kent Housing, the four Councils, and the previous board have failed tenants and leaseholders. The fact those who failed tenants and leaseholders are allowed to engage and participate in redesigned services is deeply concerning. We can only see this ending badly, whether it be a year or five down the line.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (1801 Articles)
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4 Comments on Consultation hardly a resounding success

  1. Well said! Tenant participation has never been welcomed. The other problem is that apathy is encouraged by our elected representatives.. What has happened to the Nolan Principles?

  2. The consultation in Thanet was a farce, in the list of what respondents considered important, there was nothing relating to dealing with legislative requirements (fire, legionella, electrical) which seeing as these were the issues that have led to the consultation is a very convenient omission.
    In addition, it was hardly made clear that TDC was a part-owner of EKH and that many of their staff moved into EKH when it was formed, or that in terms of fire safety the legislation was enacted 6 years before EKH was formed.
    It’ll all go back in house, lots of nice cosy well-paid posts will be created, the respective councils will “create” generous budgets to make an initial success of things money will be thrown at everything possible in the run-up to the next round of local elections.
    Leaseholders will be bankrupted.
    But lots of Tea, biscuits and sycophantic back slapping in council offices.
    9 years to squander a fortune on EKH, no doubt it’ll take much less time to squander twice as much again.
    Anyone know how much Ryan and Upton extracted for themselves and favoured cronies during this debacle?

  3. I don’t mind my comments being amended but would prefer it was annotated as such , but i stand by my comment regarding brendan ryan and co and how well they’ve done out of it all.

  4. doggerbank56 // February 13, 2020 at 12:48 // Reply

    The Consultation responses for Folkestone and Hythe are another “nail in the coffin” for the personal and professional reputations of Deborah Upton and her former senior management team members at East Kent Housing.

    However,as you rightly point out these problems were in plain sight thanks to Shepway Vox’s reporting. One must therefore ask why our elected representatives and the senior officers within each of the 4 local councils failed to address these problems in a timely and effective manner ?

    Tenants and leaseholders in Folkestone and Hythe are right to be concerned about what lies ahead for them based on the mediocre performance by the Council across multiple areas. I will refrain from commenting on the other 3 Councils as I have not had any direct dealings with them.

    The onus is now on Dr Susan Priest and her senior colleagues to demonstrate that they can turn this lamentable state of affairs around. If they fail to do so then our elected Councillors should hold them publicly accountable for their actions/inactions by dismissing them. The ball is in their court now. Will they step up to the plate?

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