Audit report into failings at East Kent Housing have been published thanks to Labour and Opposition councillors. ‘Sometimes the plaster just needs to be ripped off’.
Labour and opposition councillors at Tuesday night’s Overview and Scrutiny committee voted to publish documents that show the extent of health and safety failings at East Kent Housing (EKH). The audit papers, which were previously restricted, show urgent intervention was needed on fire safety, electrical testing, lifts and legionella at the time the report was provided to the East Kent Housing Chief Executive in mid July. Overview and Scrutiny councillors were only given the restricted documents last week and were told the restriction couldn’t be challenged before the meeting. An update from early September, which has also now been published, shows progress in addressing the problems but they are by no means sorted out. Completed fire risk assessments show 442 outstanding actions which are due to be completed over the next 18 months while in EKH communal blocks only 20.97% of electrical installation condition reports are described as compliant and in domestic properties it’s 27.39%. Some actions from the existing electrical reports dated back to 2016 and included Category C1 (highest risk) faults. An updated audit report says these have now been addressed.
Speaking at the meeting Councillor Michelle Dorrell welcomed the publication of the papers and said: ‘Sometimes it’s a bit like a plaster; you’ve got to rip it off. Yes it’s going to hurt, but that transparency, that openness.. would be a lot better than this continuing to hang over residents; plus by being transparent.. it shows how much we want to take it seriously and deal with it.
Councillor Laura Davison said tenants urgently needed to be told about the situation in full and given appropriate advice. She also warned about the lack of investment in housing stock as a whole. Reflecting on the vote to publish the documents the councillors said: ‘We felt it was our duty as councillors elected on a pledge of transparency to make sure EKH couldn’t get away with hiding critical and damning information from stake holders and tenants; whilst at the same time these issues are continuing to be addressed.”
Labour is continuing to scrutinise and question the audit information which has now been published on the district council’s website: Folkestone and Hythe District Council’s Website