Friday, 18 April 2014

Chief executive resigns following boardroom fallout at housing association giant

Trouble at the top at Affinity Sutton

One of England's biggest housing groups has been thrown into chaos after three months which have seen the departure of the chief executive, the chair and a member of the board from one of its subsidiaries.

The problems at Affinity Sutton culminated this week with the resignation of Paul Eastwood, the chief executive of William Sutton Homes, one of the group members.

His departure follows the ousting of the association's chair Kerry Pollard.The Housing Corporation ordered Affinity Sutton Group to launch an investigation after Mr Pollard complained about its actions (see timeline).

Mr Pollard was forced out after claiming that group chief executive Keith Exford had not followed procedure properly when he carried out an appraisal of William Sutton's chief executive, Paul Eastwood. The group accused Mr Pollard of ‘confrontational' behaviour towards Mr Exford, the investigation report states.

While the investigation exonerated the group's approach, it found that Mr Exford had used ‘extremely forceful, demotic and by his own admission inappropriate language' in a phone call with Mr Eastwood. The report described that conversation as an ‘attack' on the conduct of Mr Pollard, which left Mr Eastwood ‘clearly very distressed and shaken'.

Two William Sutton board members became ‘greatly concerned' for Mr Eastwood's well-being following the call, the report says.William Sutton board member Marianne Hood was ousted from the board this week after she acted as a ‘whistle-blower' to the corporation because of her concerns over Mr Pollard's departure.

The investigation examined whether the board had approved the decision to remove Mr Pollard. In a letter from Mr Exford to the corporation, dated 25 April, he said that ‘the majority of the William Sutton Homes' board have today expressed their support for this prompt and decisive action'.

But minutes of a William Sutton Housing Association board meeting on 27 April, seen by Inside Housing, state that ‘members expressed concern at endorsing or supporting the action taken and agreed they would take a more neutral stance'.In a statement Affinity Sutton said Mr Pollard had been removed as chair of William Sutton Homes board in April following a unanimous resolution of the Affinity Sutton Group board.

‘The final report concluded that the decisions taken by the Affinity Sutton board were reasonable in all the circumstances and none of the allegations investigated were upheld.'Mr Eastwood's decision to leave William Sutton Homes was ‘amicable', the statement said. Mr Exford has apologised for any offence that may have been taken from the language that was used, it added.

Related

Articles

  • Council fined for housing family in B&B for weeks

    11 June 2013

    A council was told to pay nearly £4,000 for placing a woman and her four children in a one-bedroom bed and breakfast for more than four months.

  • Squeezed out

    17 May 2013

  • Driven to despair

    21/06/2013

    When 33-year-old Suzanne Dow killed herself in 2011 after years of abuse from her neighbour, major faults in the way local authorities dealt with vulnerable tenants were uncovered. Two years later, Keith Cooper finds out whether any lessons have been learned

  • New rent settlement ‘good news’ for landlords

    28/06/2013

    Senior housing figures have cautiously welcomed the new 10-year rent settlement for social landlords.

  • Credit rating scheme to help 5.2 million tenants

    10/05/2013

    Social landlords are planning to hand over rental payment data to a credit ratings giant in order to build their tenants’ credit history and help them access more affordable finance.

Resources

  • Expert opinion

    06/09/2013

    The challenging economy has led employees at all levels to question their job security, says Blair McPherson

  • Paying the price of silence

    05/07/2013

    ‘Gagging clauses’ are hard to enforce and should be handled with caution, says Vivienne Reeve, associate at Wragge & Co

  • The key to recovery

    25/10/2013

    Can living in general needs homes give drug and alcohol abusers a better chance of recovery? Caroline Thorpe reports on the three-year pilot study in Northamptonshire that tried to find out

  • How to save a life

    07/06/2013

    The British Red Cross has given first aid training to 1,600 homeless people across Britain in the past year alone. Here Kate Youde finds out just how valuable the experience has been

  • Acting out to tackle domestic abuse

    28/03/2014

    An interactive training course is helping housing professionals in the south west identify and tackle domestic abuse. Lydia Stockdale finds out how