Councils in dispute with gas contractor while setting a date to transfer East Kent Housing services to councils

On the 13th December 2019, the four chief execs of Canterbury, Dover,  Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils became the directors of East Kent Housing.

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The Shepwayvox Team has established that in less than three months, the gas contractor Gas Call Services Limited, (who started 01/11/19) issued all four councils with a dispute letter relating to the contract tender terms.

Screenshot from 2020-04-24 23-07-02

This matter remains unresolved as we understand from well placed sources inside FHDC, EKH and Gas Call Services Ltd.

It was announced yesterday staff at East Kent Housing (EKH) and the services it provides are set to transfer to the four councils that own it at close of play on 30 September (2020) this year.

The decision to break up EKH was made by councillors at all  four councils at the start of the year following a consultation with tenants.

The move was prompted by a series of health and safety failings exposed by the Shepwayvox Team after an eighteen month investigation highlighted significant issues; which included:

  • 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 catergorised as high risk

Minutes show there remain a considerable number of issues, set above which need to be fully resolved before full compliance.

On the 8th August 2019 all four Chief Execs were “summonsed” to the Regulator of Social Housing in London to address the issues brought to light by the Shepwayvox Team’s investigation. Since then they have been addressing the issues raised by regulator. On the 29th Jan 2020 the Councils issued the Regulator with their detailed risk register and proposed mitigation report.

However, the Regulator is not just interested in the detailed risk register and proposed mitigation report. They are very interested in EKH staffing position too. The councils must send regular updates to the Regulator.

Regarding staff, EKH have had issues of recruitment over the last fifteen months or so, due in part to the publicity they received from our investigation.

The Councils have made it clear that to plug the vacancies EKH have, they hope many of the agency staff who have been vital in supporting the organisation [EKH] during  the period of fundamental change will want to go and work for one of the four councils when the services transfer in Sept 2020; and they will be working with them to make that happen.

Meanwhile, the contract tender terms remain in dispute and there is NO Deborah Upton to blame, just the four Chief Execs. We hope they’ll resolve this issue swiftly. after all, losing one contractor to potential fraud was a misfortune, losing a second really would look like carelessness.

FHDC and CCC have been approached for a comment about the dispute letter, but at the time of publication a reply there has come none.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (1801 Articles)
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1 Comment on Councils in dispute with gas contractor while setting a date to transfer East Kent Housing services to councils

  1. doggerbank56 // April 28, 2020 at 15:29 // Reply

    I am sure none of the Councils will want this dispute to go anywhere near a Court. I do not know what the contract states about dispute resolution but, if they have any sense it should include an arbitration clause. You may wish to submit an FOI request to obtain the necessary clarification.

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