Under-fire housing association boss refuses to quit

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Niall Gordon will stay on as chief executive despite watchdog taking over the beleaguered housing association 

13th February 2017 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

An under-fire housing association boss is defiantly clinging onto power, despite presiding over a crisis that has seen £2.3m of cash wasted.

Wishaw and District Housing Association chief Niall Gordon (pictured below) said he won’t resign even though the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) has effectively taken over control of his organisation.

In a damning report the watchdog slated the governance at the charity, saying it was intervening to protect tenants and to avoid more cash being lost.

Christine Macleod, director of regulation at SHR, said: “There has been poor decision making and weak management of risk which have already cost the organisation.  We consider that Wishaw and District’s poor governance and the financial risks it faces pose significant risk to tenants’ interests, to public and private funders’ confidence and to the reputation of registered social landlords.

“We do not believe Wishaw & District has the capacity to tackle its serious problems. In these circumstances, statutory intervention is the most appropriate response to protect tenants’ interests.”

Five new members have been imposed onto the board leave while the regulator has employed a manager to oversee operations.  

It centres on a dispute concerning the former Tesco site in Wishaw which the HA took over in 2010. Some £2.3m has been spent on the Main Street site so far yet it still remains a barren wasteland.

But chair Brenda Higgins said: “The chief executive will continue to lead the organisation and manage day-to-day business to ensure good services are delivered to tenants. He will work with the appointed manager to support him in the specific tasks he needs to take forward with the board.”

It follows a tempestuous year for the chief executive in which two strikes were staged by staff outraged at his attempts to impose more hours into their working week.

This was resolved last week with staff victorious and Gordon forced into an embarrassing climbdown.  

Eddie Mullen, its former vice-chair, walked out in December after criticising the way the housing boss handled the long-running dispute with workers.  

Since the problems emerged, a number of former senior staff have contacted TFN blaming Gordon for much of the unrest at the 39-year old organisation. 

Although the site was purchased before he took post at WDHA, there has been criticism over Gordon's heavy-handed approach to the issue.   

One former member of staff ousted by Gordon back in 2015 as part of a “restructuring” alongside three other senior staff members said: “Niall’s situation is untenable. He is heavy handed and intimidates.

“To think he can lead the organisation through its biggest ever crisis when he has been the architect of so much unrest is naïve in the extreme. There’s no axe to grind here. We all want the best for the area. However Niall is the creator of many of the problems. It is delusional for him to and the chair to believe he will provide the leadership to find a solution.”  

Wishaw and District owns and manages 1,030 homes and provides factoring services to 370 owners across Wishaw and the surrounding communities in North. Its turnover last year was around £4.76m.

Local MSP Clare Adamson said: “I am glad to see this intervention by the housing regulator. Clearly, there have been serious issues at Wishaw and District Housing Association and it is absolutely vital that the tenants and service-users are protected going forward.

And the SNP member added: “It is deeply worrying that the severity of this situation has resulted in Regulator intervention. What is important now is that the managers and officers appointed have the resources to make the necessary improvements and to support the hard-working staff.

“The tenants and service-users of Wishaw and District Housing Association deserve the best service going forward. I trust that the local community will get behind the new board and the dedicated staff to ensure best service in the future.”

13th February 2017 by Brian Doyle

No surprise there then??