Published: 14:12, 12 December 2019
| Updated: 15:55, 12 December 2019
The entire board at scandal-hit East Kent Housing has been dismissed by fed-up council bosses.
Council chief executives admit they "had no choice" but to axe the board after thousands of outdated safety assessments were uncovered earlier this year.
Damning leaked documents previously revealed how East Kent Housing (EKH) had left hundreds of homes with overdue gas safety inspections, 4,800 fire risks, almost 2,000 water hygiene risks and hundreds of serious electrical dangers.
As a result, the four councils, which commissioned an independent probe by housing experts, have taken swift action and now hold direct control of the organisation.
In a statement, the authority chief executives said: “After reading the conclusions reached by the independent experts into what went wrong at EKH, we had no choice but to take swift and decisive action to take direct control of the organisation, along with its hard-working and committed staff, to ensure any outstanding health and safety checks are completed and any faults found are tackled as a matter of urgency.
“While significant progress has been made on tackling health and safety issues and gas safety checks are now up to date, the new board will be better placed to direct resources to tackle the issues raised.”
As well as uncovering thousands of safety flaws, the probe by Pennington Choices revealed how the role of the EKH board was not understood by those who were part of it.
It also took aim at EKH's key priority being to cost cut and save money.
A lack of leadership at EKH - combined with a lack of challenge and holding to account by the four councils was also raised, along with a lack of IT capability.
The councils say a new board is committed to working with tenants, leaseholders and EKH staff in the months ahead to continue the progress that has already been made.
The statement from council chief executives adds: “We are sorry for any distress this situation has caused to our tenants and leaseholders.
“We paid independent experts to investigate and we are taking their findings incredibly seriously because we have to recognise where we are before we can move on and rebuild the trust with the tenants and leaseholders who rely on us.
"Putting tenants and leaseholders’ needs first is at the heart of this process and we are working on ways we can have an effective two-way conversation so we always take their views into account when making decisions that affect their day-to-day lives.
"We are in the process of asking tenants and leaseholders for their views and they will be reported to councillors in each authority for them to make a final decision in the new year."
The Regulator of Social Housing has been kept informed of developments.