Call for urgent review of East Kent Housing service after gas safety scandal

Thanet council

Thanet District Council is being urged to carry out an urgent review of a housing authority after it emerged more than 500 homes were overdue gas safety checks.

Labour councillors at the authority say they have serious concerns about East Kent Housing, which manages social housing for Thanet, Canterbury, Folkestone and Hythe, and Dover councils, and want the contract to be scrapped.

It follows the revelation by Kent Online earlier this month that since May 24, tenants in 544 council homes had been awaiting gas safety certificates due to overdue Landlord Gas Safety Register assessments.

Cllr Helen Whitehead says the Labour Party has serious concerns about East Kent Housing.

Hundreds of the homes across the four districts have since had urgent checks carried out.

Cllr Helen Whitehead, Labour’s deputy leader at Thanet council and shadow portfolio holder for housing, says the party has always had serious concerns about the lack of accountability in the arm’s length model.

“The first duty the council owes its tenants is to keep them safe,” she said.

“Thanet, along with other councils, has stepped in to tackle the gas certificate issue and thankfully the number of missing certificates is coming down, but it is clear from this that there is a wider governance issue and that EKH cannot be trusted to look after our housing.

“We campaigned in the recent election to bring the service back in-house and now we want cabinet to look objectively at the opportunity to do just that.

“If we aren’t satisfied that is happening then it is something we will look to bring before full council ourselves.

“Ultimately this is about providing a better service to tenants and their views matter most, but we do not believe the EKH model works.”

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “First and foremost our concern is for those tenants who have been affected and have been contacted by East Kent Housing (EKH). We’ve worked quickly with EKH to resolve this issue and understand that the number of outstanding checks has fallen significantly.

“An independent investigation is now underway to review what has gone wrong and to seek assurances that this will not happen again. Each of the four east Kent councils will be reporting back to its Councillors to set out the circumstances of this issue, the actions required and to review the future options for this service.”