Brave New World of Council Housing in East Kent

Updated: 07/10/20 – @ 08:00

East Kent Housing is dead, just like that parrot.

At midnight (30th Sept) it ceased to be. All its functions and responsibilities have now returned to the four councils, who previously owned it – Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet.

The death of East Kent Housing began with the scandal around the P & R contract, which quickly spread to encompass tenant Health & Safety issues such as Fire Safety, Legionalla, Electrical and lifts.

In Sept 2019, the Regulator of Social Housing issued regulatory findings against them all.

The regulator concluded that all four councils had breached the Home standard; and there was a risk of serious detriment to tenants and leaseholders during this period.

In Dec 2019, the four councils removed the board and replaced them with the four Chief Exec’s of the Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils, as the directors of East Kent Housing Ltd.

In alphabetical order the Chief Execs are:

Colin Carmichael OBE, arrived at Canterbury City Council in Oct 1996. He left the London Borough of Camden,  where he had been Director of Corporate Services between  – 

In Oct 2011, Colin Carmichael, who had by then received his OBE for services to local government – was named in a Daily Telegraph investigation as one of the Council bosses leading a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers expense.

In January 2018, 70-year-old Susan Baines, who lived in an EKH managed property in Whitstable, owned by Canterbury City Council, died hours after she was found hypothermic by paramedics – six months after EKH ruled electric storage heaters in the property needed replacing with radiators.

Moving on, Nadeem Aziz Chief Exec of Dover District Council; who previously worked as at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has no public skeletons that we can find. If you know of any, do drop us a line.

 

Then there is Dr. Susan Priest, Chief Exec of Folkestone & Hythe District Council who arrived at FHDC in Oct/Nov 2013.

When she left South East England Development Agency – a quango-  in March 2012, she received more than £170,000 in compensation for the loss of her role. She then moved onto South East Local Enterprise Partnership before leaving to join FHDC.

It was Susan who signed off the payment of £1.5m to a known criminal for the purchase of the Biggins Wood Land – Cheriton.

Susan received a £40,000 pay rise in 2019/20. It’s her council who have paid out more to keep ex employees quiet than any other District council in Kent, over the last five financial years.

Then last, but not least, there is Madeline Homer, Chief Exec of Thanet District Council.

Well, there was the failure to get in place a local plan which led to the intervention of the Secretary of State James Brokenshire of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire.

Then of course there is the ongoing saga about the lack of governance; and the failure to declare her intimate relationship with her No 2 at Thanet Council.

These are the four chief exec who failed to claw back £1,511,000 of public money which was overpaid to P & R the former gas contractor.

These were the people who signed off employing the former Chief Exec of East Kent Housing, Deborah Joshephine Upton, who walked away with a £160,000 pay off and a non-disclosure agreement, according to well placed former EKH staff.

These are the four Chief Executives who will take their housing stock into the brave new world of direct council control.

These are the four chief executives  whose councils have charged leaseholders for service charges such as legionella control; which P & R significantly overcharged for.

A growing group of disgruntled  leaseholders say they have failed to receive a detailed breakdown of these costs; which were added to their service charges, they allege.

Such behaviour is not unheard of by councils

We will watch this brave new world with interest; and when residents of council housing raise issues, we will investigate.

The Shepway Vox Team

The Velvet Voices of Dissent

About shepwayvox (1169 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

8 Comments on Brave New World of Council Housing in East Kent

  1. Absolutely spot on once again you lead the way, I still can’t believe Madeline and Gavin have not been fired from TDC as their shenanigans have been going on for years. I believe a lot of problems with EKH was caused by just a few people and not by the rank & file workers whose hands are tied, at least you are not afraid to say it straight, if only there was someone in thanet who was strong enough to speak the whole truth we could then turn things around and not be the laughing stock our council is. What I feel is stopping it is fear pressure from the hierarchy from the 2 main political parties. Let us hope now the utilities at all housing within each council is sorted quickly a lot of work and financial costs.

  2. What a wonderful world we live in.

  3. Put any of these scandals to BBC Southeast “if you have a story you think we should be reporting” and they simply aren’t interested.

  4. Local chap // October 2, 2020 at 07:52 // Reply

    Thanet district Council is as dysfunctional as ever, just recently a very cosy arrangement was agreedbetween them and Paramount Property for the provisonvof a homeless hostel. In brief.
    Paramount bought the old British Legion at auction
    Put in planning for 7 flats but this was never seen through
    As soon as lockdown commenced works started
    In april TDC BUILDING control received and approved an application for a homeless hostel.
    Works continued
    In july a retrospective planning and listed building application submitted for the homelss hostel now half completed ( the inside of the listed building was in terms of heritage)
    Over 50 objections ( the area has been plagued by drug related issues and placement of problem tenants by Paramount)
    No consultation or liason with local community, local councillors would not reply to queries.
    Planning was granted.

    So TDC were complicit in agreeing on a scheme , allowing works without planning or listed building consent and ignoring local opinion ( not saying there is not a need for the facility but there was little due process or consideration of other sites)
    All with a commercial partner who’ll be paid by TDC to operate it. Plus from a council that declared a climate emergency last year, it’ll be a listed building heated 24/7 but has basically no insulation or efficiency, big bills awaited.

    for planning application see HERE

    Murky dealings indeed, looks as though the application and its many objections have been deleted (at least in terms of a simple search)

    • Hi Local chap you are spot on with this thank you for reporting it here. As I said earlier only a few will say the truth.

  5. The owners of paramount property followed Deborah Upton from Medway council, it was her that got them in, yet another example of her having given her pets when she was at Medway easy opportunities to make a killing

  6. Local old bloke // October 4, 2020 at 10:12 // Reply

    I attended many meetings at EKH and heard the same statement again and again, what about the lease holders. Same reply every time from the head of the leasehold team and the compliance management team members, make them pay, they won’t know that they don’t have to and will just pay it. The worrying thing is that these people are all now spread throughout the various councils. A lot of the so called rank and file were as bad as top tables in my experience. So, do not hold out too much hope or, get your expectations to high as they are the same staff, just different offices and badges.

  7. Local chap // October 5, 2020 at 21:45 // Reply

    For a bit of comedy, today i received my first “Half yearly payments in advance” invoice, with it was a letter advising that TDC had now taken over from EKH and that I was to use the new email address if i wanted to contact anyone. Yet just to show that the incompetence is ongoing the actual invoice says in the event of a query use an EKH email address.

    Even more depressing TDC have employed the same person that I dealt with at EKH.

    Not much to inspire any confidence.

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