Councillor Game, Cabinet Member for housing & Safer Neighbourhoods having declared a significant interest on the matter, left the Council Chamber before the discussion of this item.
Cabinet acknowledged the Monitoring Officer’s report on the matter and thanked the MO for the report.
Members then confirmed that the foremost concern was ensuring the tenants affected by this situation and indicated that the council was working very closely with East Kent Housing (EKH) on an action plan to fix these issues quickly.
The Cabinet report set out the background to the identified failure to undertake inspections and the remedial action taken. Failures at both EKH and at the council’s appointed contractor at the time had led to the position where some properties did not have a valid LGSR.
Members were informed that since becoming aware of the position Council had:
At the highest point, there were 133 TDC owned properties that did not have valid LGSR. However as at 25 July there were no TDC properties without a valid LGSR. EKH had commissioned an investigation into how this situation arose and how they could ensure that it never occurred again.
The issues with gas safety had inevitably raised questions about the effectiveness of EKH’s management of other areas of tenant and leaseholder health and safety and the level of compliance with statutory requirements.
A routine audit of EKH’s compliance activities had revealed failures in other areas of compliance such as fire safety, electrical safety, legionella and passenger lifts. This was referenced in the report and would be the subject of further detailed review so that the council could be fully assured that council tenants and leaseholders were safe in their homes.
Since becoming aware of the emerging findings of the audit Cabinet had:
The initial focus of this work was on safety; however it inevitably asked questions about whether the current structures of EKH had contributed to the issues identified. This report therefore responded to the issues raised by the council’s Monitoring Officer and also authorised the council’s Chief Executive to take whatever further interim action was necessary, which could include for example authorising the use of funds from the council’s Housing Revenue Account Reserve for additional inspections, scrutiny or works as required.
The report also requested that further work be completed on assessing the options for the future of the council’s landlord service.
Councillor Everitt spoke under Council Procedure 20.1.
Councillor Bayford proposed, Councillor Ashbee seconded and Cabinet agreed the following:
1. Adopted the report as its report to the Monitoring Officer in accordance with the requirements of S5A (8)&(9) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, and agreed that a copy of it be provided to all Members of the Council and the Monitoring Officer;
2. Noted the potential wider concerns about the services provided by EKH, identified as a result of recent developments;
3. Noted the interim measures taken and delegated authority to the Chief Executive to take further interim measures as required;
4. Requested a further report setting out the potential future options for the management of the council’s housing stock and whether a detailed options appraisal, including resident consultation, should be completed. An initial scoping report would be required to set out the proposed process, timescale and cost.