This is a guest post written by East Kent Housing staff and Council Officers from all four councils who own EKH
We have provided a spreadsheet of all the outstanding actions arising from Fire Risk Assessments which need remedial action to be compliant with current legislation, for all council housing stock managed by East Kent Housing, for and behalf of Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils.
Between September 2017 and June 2020, the number of high risk actions identified across all council owned housing stock was 1,037. By June 2020, the number of outstanding actions required to be undertaken to be compliant with the legislation was 924, meaning 113, or just 11% of these actions had been rectified.
Few of the medium or low risk actions required had been completed by June 2020.
Since we were last given a platform to voice our concerns by the Shepway Vox Team, we note, Folkestone & Hythe District Council have stated, on the 28th Aug 2020:
“The current position is that all 180 blocks have in-date FRA’s and there are 122 actions which are due to be completed by 31 October 2020.”
Little do they know that many of the FRA dates have been gamed, as have the outstanding actions which need to be taken. As of June 2020, there were 278, high, medium and low outstanding fire actions which needed remedial action to be compliant with the law.
There is little chance that that 156 of these outstanding actions arising from Fire Risk Assessments, which need remedial action to be compliant with current legislation, have been done in the last two months. We say this because we have access to the system and during the covid pandemic little work has been done.
We realise a contractor has been put in place by Folkestone & Hythe District Council, as long ago as 2nd Sept 2019, eight days before the the Tenant Health & Safety report came before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the 10th Sept 2019.
The contract won by Allied Protection Limited was for:
“provision of fire precaution works (fire risk and mitigation) including surveys, fire curtains, smoke seals, fire stops, fire walls, fire doors, fire resistant glazing, and other installation and repair works relating to fire safety“.
and was valued at £65,000 between 02/09/2019 and 01/09/2022.
In line with the Transparency Code 2015, Folkestone & Hythe District Council have published their spend data. Between Sept 2019, when Allied started the contract, and June 2020, the councils have paid Allied Protection Ltd the gross amount of £71,776.
Given the fact Poyntell Ltd won a contract with Folkestone & Hythe District Council to replace fire doors at Ross House, to the value of £47,500, we do not believe the value of the contract given to Allied will cover the works needed across the whole of the Folkestone & Hythe District Council owned housing stock.
At present we know East Kent Audit Partnership – the internal auditors of the council – are currently undertaking a review of fire safety across all four councils housing stock. However, they have not, as far as we council officers and EKH staff are aware, checked the FRA system to see what has been gamed and how many outstanding actions have been gamed.
Failure to do such a check, will not tell the councils, or elected cllrs across all four councils, the whole story. If the truth is to out, then EKAP must have access to this system, otherwise those responsible for the gaming of the FRAs will never be exposed.
It is a truly terrifying thought but, we officers of all four councils and EKH staff firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of the four landlords and EKH. Such an event, god forbid, will though bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.
You as the Shepway Vox Team so often say, can make up your own mind.
If you are tenant, or a lease holder, who live in a council owned property belonging to Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe or Thanet Council, we urge you to contact the ⇒ Housing Ombudsman to make a formal complaint about the failure of EKH and all four councils to keep you as tenants and lease holders safe.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is essential in any democracy
We do not intend to suggest or imply that Poyntell or Allied Protection, have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.