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Stand-off between Housing Minister and Housing Executive?

Wed 6 July 2011, 8:29pm

The BBC are pointing to a potential stand-off between the Northern Ireland Social Development Minister, the DUP’s Nelson McCausland, and the NI Housing Executive over the use of Red Sky building maintenance company.  From the BBC report

The housing minister had asked the executive to extend the contract with the Belfast maintenance company.

The housing body announced in April that the contract would end on 14 July due to allegations of overcharging.

Earlier, Mr McCausland denied Red Sky received preferential treatment from his party the DUP.

Last week, Mr McCausland asked for the contract to be extended until a new system for awarding contracts was put in place.

However, it is understood the Housing Executive has said it is sticking to the 14 July date for terminating the contract and has threatened the minister with judicial action if he issues a directive to the contrary. [added emphasis]

That could make the outcome of tomorrow’s Northern Ireland Executive Committee meeting very interesting indeed.

Update  UTV reports that new building maintenance firms are expected to take over the Red Sky contracts by the end of the week.  Some Red Sky workers are also expected to “be transferred, under existing pay and conditions, to posts with the three new contractors”.

The BBC report adds

At the start of July, Mr McCausland asked the [Housing] executive to extend the contract past the 14 July deadline.

However, on Thursday he said Red Sky’s administrator could not give an assurance he could extend the contract.

“The administrator was unable to give an assurance to the Housing Executive that he could continue a service beyond 14 July with Red Sky,” Mr McCausland said.

And

On Thursday, Mr McCausland accused the Housing Executive of being aggressive and said a letter he received from its chairman sounded like “a declaration of war”.

“If someone declares war, I’m not going to back away from that.

“I’m going to continue doing want I want to do, which is to get to the bottom of the contracts issue,” he said.

“It’s clear from all the evidence that there are serious problems in the Housing Executive as regards the management and monitoring of contracts.”

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Comments (14)

  1. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    The Minister’s intervention is beyond belief. His solution to the findings of the previous inquiry is to put the firm involved back into control of the contract. This is so manifestly illogical as to defy belief and makes everyone think that there is some other factor or motive.

    If McCausland has some logical reason, perhaps he would share it?

    The allegations that the problems at NIHE run deep and wide and may involve maladministration and corruption seem tenable. But I am sure his former colleague Connor will happily advise him on how top deal with those sort f claims.

    Fundamentally, if he isn’t happy with the Board at NIHE he can use his statutory powers to remedy that situation. Alternatively he can let them get with the job of cleaning up the mess at the Executive and hold them to account while they do that.

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  2. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Mr McCausland’s denial that Red Sky receives preferential treatment from the DUP sits somewhat at odds with his demands that the Housing Executive allow Red Sky to continue to overcharge for shoddy work beyond 14th July. Now that’s what I would call nice work if you can get it and others might well see as very favourable treatment indeed.

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  3. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    Mick

    Thanks for the Yellow. I am sorry but I am unrepentant on this one. Twice in two weeks we have posts by Pete and Chris on the same topic within 45 mins. I fully recognise the plurality of views arguments etc and value the contributions of both of them – indeed I have debated with both from very different perspectives in an open, positive an d fair manner.

    However, on some topics I think there is a real danger here of creating an intellectual version of North Belfast where we have blog walls that separate different strands of argument. I therefore satirically posted the same comment on both blogs to highlight this. Mea culpa – but it was deliberate and well meant.

    Meanwhile I wear my Yellow with pride!

    PS I am cross posting this on Chris’s blog for the benefit of any posters there who wont read Pete’s

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  4. AntrimObserver (profile) black spot black spot says:

    This will finish McCausland before he’s even started. He’s bitten off more than he chew here.

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  5. dwatch (profile) says:

    “This will finish McCausland before he’s even started. He’s bitten off more than he chew here.”

    AO, I think you are right here, McCausland was riding high with complacency by his previous actions as DUP minister of sports in handing out millions from the failed Maze stadium project money to football clubs. This time he has shot himself in the foot.

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  6. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    This will finish McCausland before he’s even started. He’s bitten off more than he chew here.

    I very much doubt that.

    McCausland has done very little. All he has done so far is ask (not order) the Housing Executive to extend the contract until an investigation can be completed and a new contract drawn up.

    Looking at it purely on face value there is nothing terribly controversial about this. The decision about the A5 is something similar – a new minister revisiting a matter that had come up during the previous minister’s tenure.

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  7. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    ” Looking at it purely on face value there is nothing terribly controversial about this.”

    ….. that rather depends upon what the investigation within NIHE has found, doesn’t it?

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  8. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    methinks some here underestimate Nelson, time will tell,

    ” Mr McCausland accused the Housing Executive of being aggressive and said a letter he received from its chairman sounded like “a declaration of war”.

    “If someone declares war, I’m not going to back away from that.

    “I’m going to continue doing want I want to do, which is to get to the bottom of the contracts issue,” he said.

    “It’s clear from all the evidence that there are serious problems in the Housing Executive as regards the management and monitoring of contracts.”.

    Heads to roll at N.I.H.E. over the next few years

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  9. Tweedybird (profile) says:

    Am I simple or something ? I was under the impression that Red Sky had their contract terminated due to overpricing, corruption, etc…What then is Nelson McCausland point of his intervention? Is he not undermining the chairman and the policy making of the Housing Executive. To me, this is a very bad precedent to set.

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  10. jthree (profile) says:

    Not sure that anyone has linked to the original BBC story.

    It is instructive. Seems like Red Sky played the sectarianism card from the get go when they were called on their shitty work .

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11487828

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  11. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Update UTV reports that new building maintenance firms are expected to take over the Red Sky contracts by the end of the week. Some Red Sky workers are also expected to “be transferred, under existing pay and conditions, to posts with the three new contractors”.

    The BBC report adds

    At the start of July, Mr McCausland asked the [Housing] executive to extend the contract past the 14 July deadline.

    However, on Thursday he said Red Sky’s administrator could not give an assurance he could extend the contract.

    “The administrator was unable to give an assurance to the Housing Executive that he could continue a service beyond 14 July with Red Sky,” Mr McCausland said.

    And

    On Thursday, Mr McCausland accused the Housing Executive of being aggressive and said a letter he received from its chairman sounded like “a declaration of war”.

    “If someone declares war, I’m not going to back away from that.

    “I’m going to continue doing want I want to do, which is to get to the bottom of the contracts issue,” he said.

    “It’s clear from all the evidence that there are serious problems in the Housing Executive as regards the management and monitoring of contracts.”

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  12. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    If Cynic has done anything to earn that yellow card his posts on this blog certainly negate whatever he did.

    On Newsline they said that there was no threat to jobs save for office staff. Also, there are around 350 jobs, not 400 and around half of the 350 jobs are in NIHE contracts and the others are guaranteed.

    So, what conclude does one draw there?

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  13. lamhdearg2 (profile) black spot black spot says:

    Gotcha.
    (bad taste?)

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  14. chewnicked (profile) says:

    Rowntree created much of the ill will and rancour with DSD and under his tenure he managed to lose the best Chief Executive the Housing Executive ever had.
    Its easy for Rowntree to now cut and run off to his many other quango roles whilst leavig a vulnerable and fearful NIHE workforce waiting on the DSD axe to fall.
    Good riddance.

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