East Kent Housing’s Chief Executive Deborah Upton has stepped down from her role following a string of failures by the organisation.
This month the board of East Kent Housing, which manages local authority properties in east Kent, was dismissed and replaced by the chief executives of Thanet, Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone & Hythe councils.
The action came on the heels of revelations earlier this year that hundreds of council property tenants across east Kent had been awaiting gas safety certificates due to overdue Landlord Gas Safety Register assessments.
It then emerged that there were also grave concerns over potential further issues with electrical certification, lifts, fire safety and legionella testing.
P&R terminated its contract with EKH and work is currently being undertaken by Swale Heating.’
A statement from Thanet council issued today (December 23) says: “East Kent Housing’s Chief Executive Deborah Upton has considered her position in light of the four councils’ consultation with their tenants and leaseholders on taking housing services back in house as well as the recent changes to the board.
She has decided now is the right time to step aside. We are working on putting interim measures in place.”
A report by Pennington Choices, published this month, into what went wrong at EKH said a number of factors led to the failure around health and safety compliance including:
- The role of the board, appointed to set the strategic direction of EKH and oversee its day-to-day running, was not understood by either side effectively making it redundant
- A lack of leadership at EKH combined with a lack of challenge and holding to account by the four councils
- The perception of staff at EKH that saving money was a key priority
- The poor quality of the data being used by EKH and a lack of IT capability
- A collective failure between EKH and the councils to award contracts and engage suppliers in a timely manner
- The difficulty encountered by EKH working for four different councils with different political, strategic and operational priorities leading to a dysfunctional relationship
The results will be reviewed and a final decision will be made by councillors in February.