Brighton and Hove’s housing chiefs have denied claims that they are leaving the “fox in charge of the chickens” when managing contractors.
They were accused of allowing Knightguard Security to survey and condemn entrance doors across the city, in a question from Barry Hughes and Madeleine Sailani, before replacing the doors itself.
Mr Hughes made the claim at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 17 January).
He said: “We let the fox into the chicken run and ask the fox which of these chickens has reached the end of its useful life.”
At the council’s Housing and New Homes Committee meeting Mr Hughes asked: “Does the committee appreciate that any profit from the new doors fitted goes to the very same company.
“Is this really the way the committee thinks the council should be doing business?”
Councillor Anne Meadows, who chairs the committee, said that the council had reviewed access at seven sites after break-ins at three locations.
Knightguard had provided a quote for replacements, she said, and suggested less costly alternatives.
But the Labour councillor added: “Any decision to replace the door entry system or the door made by the council, not the contractor.”
And Larissa Reed, the council’s executive director of neighbourhoods, communities and housing, said: “There have been no cases like you suggest where the contractor has identified a door or door entry system has come to the end of its useful life and a decision has been made without the involvement of council officers.
“Knightguard has come to the council with suggestions and the council has made its own evaluation.”
Mr Hughes disputed the responses, saying that they contradicted evidence even from a small sample on the Sylvan Hall estate, off Ditchling Road, in Brighton.
The claims had echoes of those made previously about the way that the council’s housing maintenance contractor Mears was permitted to operate.