PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 9 October 2020
Assets and Facilities
Additional day cleaning staff continue to operate during the hours of 9am and 3pm across all school sites and 8am and 6pm in all Early Years Facilities. Recruitment of additional cleaning staff ongoing with almost 100 extra cleaning staff employed in the first two rounds of recruitment. Catering service to be expanded to offer hot meals on a trial basis in 4 locations (Kirkintilloch High School, Oxgang PS, Hillhead PS and Hillhead Early Years Centre) with effect from the 19th October in addition to operating a grab and go service across all other schools and early years facilities.
Service offering expanded as of the 5th October. The service is now undertaking gas safety inspections, reactive repairs (emergencies and non emergencies) and works to void housing premises (mainstream and homeless temporary voids). The Care & Repair service has also recommenced where it is safe to do so. The Housing elemental replacement programme (kitchens, bathrooms, heating systems) remains on hold whilst the backlog of voids is cleared. The refresh of Asbestos management survey data across the non-housing estate ongoing. The smoke and heat detector installation programme throughout the housing estate is progressing. The service continues to support the completion of works to the Education estate following recent site surveys.
Assets & Estates
Work continues to deliver major projects at Southbank House, KHCC and all Early Years sites. Revised programmes for delivery of major projects continue to be verified however work progressing well on all sites. Extension to school and nursery at Killermont PS is complete and due to open to pupils in October. Works to the existing pitches at Torrance, Hillhead and construction of a new synthetic pitch at Lenzie Academy due to commence on site shortly.
Following Council approval, enabling works to support the construction of a new Boclair Academy, and construction of the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex and Allander Leisure Centre will now commence at each site in October.
Officers in Estates Management continue to assess all maintenance contracts and instruct works to ensure all service inspections are up to date. Estates Management continue to lead on the instruction of urgent and non-urgent works across the school estate. Asset Management leading on programme of elemental replacement works across the school estate.
MR Render programme is now well established in Waterside. Close windows remain the focus for the Windows and Doors programme and electrical work is now to be undertaken on all void properties. Kitchens and Bathrooms are subject to new tender, with some external work also completing. Mixed Tenure Roofing and EWI contracts awaiting tender award.
Housing New Build
Construction has commenced on 3 externally delivered turnkey housing sites. Phase one is now completed and Kilmardinny is handing over next week. Groundworks are being undertaken on former TJ site and Phase 3 (Lairdsland) contract is nearing tender award. SHIP 2021-2026 will go to consultation shortly and the Council's new Affordable Housing Investment programme is being devised for the period of the SHIP. Open Market purchases are yet to recommence at the pre-lockdown rate, but risk assessments and processes are being established for surveys to allow this to continue.
Homelessness Team Update
New homelessness applications remain low. During September 20; 17 households made a homelessness application. To date 110 applications have been made during 2020 (230 applications at same time last year; a decrease of 53%). There is likely to be a surge when lock-down restrictions are lifted.
The out of hours service continues to be busy with 186 households contacting the out of hours service since April 2020 (compared to 93 calls at the same time last year and only 163 calls taken during 2019/20).
Due to limited temporary accommodation stock, the Homelessness & Prevention Team faced a number of challenges in the last few weeks to meet legislative duties and source appropriate temporary accommodation for households. In the past 2 weeks, 9 households have been placed within Bed & Breakfast (B&B).
To date 23 households have been placed in B&B (average of 6 days since April), although the use of B&B has increased, households have been moved to appropriate temporary accommodation quickly and there have been no breaches of the unsuitable accommodation order since April 2020. The First Stop facility remains at full capacity. Team has increased stock of temporary accommodation by 4 additional properties, once furnished these properties will provide suitable accommodation to households currently placed in B&B.
Rent Deposit Guarantee Officer continues to work alongside agents/landlords in the area to assist households move into the private sector. To date 19 households have been assisted to move to private lets with 3 more viewing properties next week. This takes pressure off the temporary/settled accommodation waiting lists.
There has been an increase in the number of housing support referrals and referrals to CAB Welfare Rights Officer. 12 households have been supported with food vouchers and energy top ups where they have been unsuccessful in obtaining a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Voids and sign ups - Team are working closely with the Property Maintenance void team to ensure the backlog of over 130 voids is dealt with as quickly as possible. The Housing Team will get properties progressed as soon as possible.
Anti-social behaviour continues to be much more prevalent – service now has approval to carry out SSST conversions, some being changed with assistance from legal services. The eviction rule in terms of court actions only applies to rent arrears; the Housing Team are keen to take forward anti-social behaviour cases that are causing our tenants distress. An initiative to set up regular monthly anti-social behaviour monitoring meetings with community safety, the police and legal services is being considered to keep on top of all serious cases.
The Rents Team continues to issue arrears balance letters to tenants, alerting them to the fact they have rent arrears, how much they are, as well as continuing to telephone or email tenants. These letters are seeing responses from some non-responding tenants, enabling discussion about affordable and realistic agreements. There continues to be tenants not paying and/or engaging and the service has recently reintroduced issuing 1st and 2nd reminder letters to these tenants. There are no current court actions for rent arrears taking place as legal action towards eviction cannot be progressed until at least March 2021. The rents team continue to support and assist as many tenants as they can with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also ensuring that income is maximised, where possible.
Current rent arrears are £1,274,244 (week 26), this is an increase of £45,038 against the same week as last year, however these variations can fluctuate due to UC schedule payments, which are 4 weekly and also paid in arrears. A recent change implemented by the DWP this week, for EDC Housing Services, now means that UC housing costs are paid directly to EDC on the same day as the tenant will received their UC. Note this is not the case for all tenants in receipt of UC (only those listed on the Landlord portal with arrears and a direct landlord payment in place) and these tenants rents will continue to be paid 4 weekly, along with payments for rent arrears.
Work has started to collate information for the next newsletter due to be issued in early December and will also include an opportunity for tenants to respond to the annual rent setting survey.
The last TPWG meeting was held using Microsoft Teams and was well attended by tenants/tenant representatives, elected members and various members of staff. The next online meeting is scheduled for 29 October 2020 and agenda items will include the start of the rent setting survey, rent arrears and estate management updates.
Land Planning & Development
Planning Applications and Building Standards
The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible. In accordance with the relevant risk assessment planning and enforcement site visits are continuing to take place under the current local and national restrictions. Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible. Similar to Planning, site visits are continuing to take place in accordance with the relevant risk assessment for those properties and sites where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate.
The team have been receiving a substantial amount of revised information in respect of applications where the service has been awaiting responses to first reports and follow up reports that have been issued. Officers are processing these responses with a view to progressing outstanding applications.
Weekly updates continue to be provided to the Scottish Government Building Standards Division to help monitor performance of Building Standards at a national level.
Both the Planning Applications and Building Standards teams continues to receive the number of applications expected by this point in the financial year despite the pandemic and are working to maintain performance as far as practical.
Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS
The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council. Officers are therefore now finalising the consultation on the Proposed LDP2 to take place from 19 October 2020 to 15 January 2021. A technical note was issued to all Members with full details. Given the changing restrictions relating to COVID-19, adjustments may need to be made during the representation period.
The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan was reported to Council on 1 October 2020. The Plan draws together actions across the Council and those being progressed by economic partners as part of delivery of Local Outcome 1. It is a live document, reflecting the ongoing nature of the public health and economic crisis and data will continue to be analysed alongside undertaking consultation. As a result of Council approval a survey will be undertaken in the coming weeks, this is currently being organised..
Work is progressing well on the Scottish Government funded Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Pilot Project with virtual work to assess the potential for improvements on properties in the Milngavie and Bearsden areas to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions now under way. The recommendations from the project will inform the development of the Council’s forthcoming Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Carbon Management Plan which will be reported to PNCA Committee in due course. Work to assess progress in meeting the carbon reduction targets set out in the Council’s Carbon Management Plan is currently under way and will be reported to Council in December.
Work on the Council’s other key Land Planning and Sustainability Strategies and Plans is ongoing. This includes ongoing policy development, continuation with consultation using electronic methods and plans and strategies being presented to Council for approval.
The GIS Team continue to support the Land Planning Policy team with the spatial work of the upcoming Local Development Plan. This work is nearing its completion, with the focus now moving to the collation, symbolising and publishing of data for the Proposed Plan. Part of this programme of work has also included highlighting areas where officers in the policy teams could utilise the GIS software to enhance collaboration and communication between officers, senior management, elected members and other key stakeholders. A comprehensive training package is being developed with the aim of upskilling officers and enhancing the accuracy of data being produced. The team have also continued supporting the planning and building standards departments, with the development of the 2020 National Customer Survey for Building Standards, utilising SQL and MS(A) skills, being submitted ahead of schedule for review by the Scottish Government. Elected members have also agreed on the name of the new development on the former St Agatha's Primary School site, St Agatha's Grove. The process of updating databases and issuing of official letters is now underway.
City Deal resources are being put in place to undertake the project. Interviews have taken place and appointments are being undertaken. Officers continue to engage with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC. Work on the outline business case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but progress is being made in relation to recruitment of core project management resources, programming and work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval).
Regeneration & Town Centres
The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those recently approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October. Project activity and progress is being maintained via virtual meetings and electronic communication. The team are pleased to report that the Antonine Wall Play Park in Peel Park Kirkintilloch is programmed to start on site in November. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required.
All grant streams closed on 10 July 2020 . A number of queries/appeals remain in respects of Business Grants for Phases 1, 2 and 3 and these are currently being worked through. To date almost £13 million has been paid out. Scottish Government has not yet confirmed a final date for reporting but have asked local authorities to complete property level data for all grants awarded in a pre-designed format. This is a substantial piece of work and will require collaboration between business support and rates due to the type of data being requested.
It was announced via the SLAED network on 7 October 2020 that Scottish Government is considering further grant funding due both to the new and ongoing lockdown restrictions. Whilst no firm details are available Councils have been pre-advised as they seem most likely to be chosen for delivery of the grant schemes.
Business Gateway continues with its normal service provision however and is experiencing increased demand for support across all sectors. Redundancies and business closures are on the increase with trade not returning to the same levels for many businesses. Information from Business Gateway National shows that East Dunbartonshire BG has the 4th highest rate of attendance for its workshops across Scotland. The top three areas were Aberdeen, Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire.
The Business Support Team is working in conjunction with Employability and Public Sector Partners such as CAB, SDS, JobCentre etc to develop information to support companies and individuals facing redundancies. It is proposed the information is developed into a leaflet giving a holistic source of all support available to make it easy for everyone to gain access to the wide range of services that are available. Each of the partners will use the same leaflet to promote services to ensure a smooth journey for those facing job loss.
Traffic and Transport
Business as usual activity continues with the team working remotely on 2020/21 projects in preparation for return to normal operations. Site visits have recommenced with a number of access and core path issues being resolved.
The team has been successful in a funding bid to the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund (BPRDF). The fund supports the Transport Scotland led Transport Transition Plan, which is looking at measures across the City Region to support sustainable travel in the next stage of lock down easing. The funding will be used to progress proposals for the A803 corridor including bus stop improvements and signal optimisation.
Promotion of active travel in schools continue now that the Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders have been finalised including social distancing prompts on footways and promotional initiatives as well as monitoring.
Waste Collection Services
As per previous updates the Waste Service is continuing to deliver most services for both residual and recycling collections across the authority including garden waste collection and dry recycling services. General waste and Recycling collections continue to remain above normal tonnage levels however are now starting to drop nearer to pre Covid levels.
The Household Waste Recycling at the Mavis Valley site continues to operate a 6pm close, seven days per week, in order to accommodate additional demand with additional staff in place to support the site with additional traffic management support being provided by the Council’s Roads Team as required during peak times. The site will shortly move over to Winter opening hours, as the clocks change on 25th October, with the site operating between 8am and 5pm Monday - Friday and 9am to 4.30pm at weekends.
The waste team continues to work through requests for replacement bin deliveries as resources allow and had planned to reintroduce bulky collections over the coming weeks.
The service continues to manage recycling banks across the district in conjunction with the Councils contractors and the Streetscene team. As previously advised some locations continue to prove a challenge due to ongoing issues with illegal dumping and have required clearing on a regular basis. Monitoring of the sites is continuing and work is ongoing with businesses and residents in order to tackle this problem.
Work is currently under way with officers across various services, in order to review and tender for waste recycling treatment & disposal contracts, due for renewal in the coming year.
The Fleet workshops continue to operate on a Shift rota in order to maintain the operational fleet. The service continues to focus resources on the routine scheduled maintenance and annual testing for commercial vehicles, large buses and gritters and plant in operation. Fleet personnel have recently undertaken work for the inspection and assessment of vehicles and plant returning to service as other areas of activity within the Council are reintroduced including Property services and Pool vehicles required to support these areas. Work is ongoing to maintain these vehicles and ensure the fleet is in a roadworthy condition as it returns to service.
The team continue to progress works for the Councils footway gritting fleet having recently undertaken repairs and calibration to the main carriageway gritters for the commencement of winter gritting activities.
The Internal Transport service continues to deliver School Transport for pupils at Campsie View School in Kirkintilloch. The service is also engaged in supporting the delivery of PPE and equipment where required on behalf of Education and colleagues within HSCP. The service continues to support colleagues in Facilities Management through delivery of meals and lunches for the Education facilities including nursery provision, and snack and learn over this period.
Fleet Management continue to work through fleet replacement programmes for vehicles and plant across the Council and have recently taken delivery of a range of new vehicles for Property Maintenance, Greenspace & Streetscene, Mugdock County park and the Roads Service. Work is also underway in order to tender for replacement Trucks, buses and pool fleet for Council services.
Place & Community Planning
The Community Planning Team continue to respond to escalated support requests received through the national assistance line and will be central to coordinating the community support for those asked to self-isolate as part of the Test and Protect support commencing Monday 12th October.
The partnership approach with EDVA continues, utilising the strong volunteer community response network facilitated through local coordinators to support those with little or no support network.
Round 1 of the 2020/21 Community Grant Scheme has now opened with a closing date set for 30th October. Applicants from the previous round have been contacted and asked to re-apply, with the opportunity to amend and update their application to ensure full compliance with COVID restrictions. Applications from community groups who demonstrate innovative and COVID compliant programmes and ideas are particularly welcomed. The maximum award for an individual application is £3,000. The 2020/21 Community Grant Scheme is an entirely online application process this year. A high volume of applications are anticipated this year.
Our Year 2 Local Child Poverty Action Report (LCPAR) is in the final stages of preparation. Once approved work will then begin on preparing the report for next year. LCPAR’s are required to be published by June each year however SG relaxed the reporting requirements this year to allow LA’s to concentrate on the COVID response.
Community Development Workers are working remotely with key officers across the community planning partnership to support groups in our Place areas with a focus on community recovery, funding and wellbeing.
Environmental Health is central to the Test and Protect programme where an officer is currently working full time with GGC NHS Board in a key lead role in contact tracing. Other officers are involved in incident and outbreak management alongside case investigations, and others are undertaking visits to premises as described below.
Since the lifting of lockdown numbers of Covid 19 cases are rising considerably with restrictions in the East Dunbartonshire Council area. This has generated significant extra demand on the service with implicated businesses identified by test and protect being visited to assess and ensure businesses are compliant. Staff have had a key role in several Problem Assessment Groups / Incident Management Team meetings in response to identified cases and also attend Covid 19 focussed Health Board meetings twice each week to facilitate effective partnership working.
EHO’s continue to enforce the Regulations as well as providing individually tailored advice and guidance to our food and drink business community on both the legislation and Scottish Government guidance. This includes undertaking significant work involving proactive visits to the East Dunbartonshire hospitality sector, in order to assess compliance, offer additional guidance and where necessary take enforcement action. 123 hospitality venues have been visited in recent weeks and compliance has been found to be 75% good overall to date although some examples of poor compliance have been observed which are being followed up.
EHO's have also been busy with complaints about business compliance and requests for advice on the regulations in place to control Covid 19. In the previous month officers dealt with 46 separate enquiries for action.
With the continued rise in the reproduction number ("R" number) the First Minister announce a package of lock measures to bring down this number. For the East Dunbartonshire Council area the following restrictions are to be introduced :
- All licensed premises will be required to close, with the exception of cafes that serve food provided alcohol is not sold will be able to open between 6am and 6pm
- Cafés (unlicensed premises) which don’t have an alcohol licence will be able to open between 6am and 6pm
- Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
- Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
- Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)
- No group exercise classes for indoor gyms and sports courts, pools with an exemption for under 18s
- No adult (18+) contact sports or training, except professional sports, indoor or outdoor
- No outdoor live events
- Snooker/pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls are to close
- Public transport use should be minimised as much as possible, such as for education and work, where it cannot be done from home
- Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply
These restrictions start from 6pm on 9th October and will continue until 25th October 2020. This has generated a lot of local enquiries from the hospitality sector seeking clarification on what this means for their business
EHO’s are resuming priority visits to environmental protection and public health referrals. During the period of emergency response a considerable backlog of referrals have built up and officers are now making inroads to this dealing with the most urgent cases first. Officers working in the field of Air Quality have produced our Annual Progress Report which was submitted to the Scottish Government. The report has been approved with very positive feedback on its contents.
The Council’s Lead Food Officer is currently working in a specialist sub group of SFELC with the aim of providing specialist Service Planning Guidance for use by Environmental Health services when all Official Controls restart. Discussions are ongoing nationally on the impact of the UK’s EU withdrawal in the near future and will be impacted on the timing and nature of any deal or no deal. EHO’s are also regularly attending virtual Liaison group meetings in the fields of Food Safety, Health and Safety, Public Health and Housing, Pollution Control as well as Contaminated Land.
The team continues to deliver a range of emergency and re-commencing work. Investigation of instances of fly-tipping continues to feature heavily and officers have been working closely with colleagues in Police Scotland to take robust enforcement action in relation to a number of offences. The team has also deployed mobile CCTV in known fly-tipping hotspots to try and help us tackle this increasing issue.
Control of Dog offences continue to be investigated and an emergency pest control service has been delivered for residents since the start of the lockdown in March. Permanent Bait services for pest control are now also recommencing in order to support customers where certain buildings or facilities within their remit are re-opening.
For Community Wardens on-street enforcement for parking offences recommenced in the middle of August. Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced with effect from Monday 14 September 2020. Some urgent work in relation to environmental breaches as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in and around identified issue areas has also recommenced.
The team is also still providing a remote service in terms of neighbour complaints/disputes, providing advice by phone and email and liaising regularly with colleagues in other services including Housing, Social Work and Police Scotland. As part of this the team are re-commencing priority ASB visits in order to try and tackle the significant increase in the number of complaints that have been received in recent months.
In addition, a number of mobile CCTV cameras have been deployed across the Council area to try and help tackle ongoing issues in terms of antisocial behaviour as well as more serious criminal offences. These cameras have been deployed in conjunction and agreement with colleagues in Police Scotland.
The Trading Standards team continue to provide advice and guidance to consumers and businesses during these challenging times. In terms of the Scottish Government route map the country currently remains in phase 3. The main focus of the team is therefore the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, with advice being provided and enforcement being undertaken in respect of all premises in the non food and drink sector.
On 7th October the Scottish Government announced increased restrictions relating to the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. Trading Standards have received an significant increase in business enquiries relating to liquor licensing and exercise classes since this announcement. Indoor gyms, sports halls and pools can only run group exercise classes for under 18s. There are no outdoor live events permitted. Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls must close. There has also been a reintroduction of 2 metre distancing in retail premises where this had previously been reduced to 1 metre. Amended regulations and update guidance for hospitality and retail are expected imminently.
Other COVID-19 related work has included an increase in enquiries relating to the East Dunbartonshire local measures from traders who work within people's homes and traders who operate from their own home. Complaints relating to a lack of physical distancing in retail premises and enquiries from non-regulated children's activity providers have also featured heavily.
Trading Standards also continue to receive a number of complaints and requests for advice from beauticians, hairdressers and barbers providing close contact services in the high risk zone This has proved both contentious and challenging in terms of supporting the sector to understand their obligations and not to provide services which entail the removal of a customer's face mask. The Service has therefore written to all retailers within this sector and used social media, thus helping retailers and customers to understand the requirements that are presently in place.
The Trading Standards team continue to raise awareness of email scams through social media e.g. DVLA, test and protect, and .Gov scams. Work with Police Scotland on Operation Skipjack is ongoing with enforcement action being undertaken in a number of cases and leaflet drops in neighbourhoods which have been targeted by cold callers/bogus workmen.
The Team's Fair Trading Officers have continued to provide advice to consumers and traders over contractual disputes. Many of these instances have arisen as a consequence of the coronavirus restrictions impacting on performance of contracts. Our officers liaise between both parties to de-escalate and resolve disputes.
Roads and Environment
Roads Network Operations
The roads Network Operations team continues to work on a rota basis to carry out repairs to all road safety defects reported on the road Network where social distancing can be maintained. In addition the annual Gully maintenance programme has commenced with all primary routes now completed. The team is continuing with our gully maintenance Secondary Routes focusing on high priority locations in the first instance.
The team continues to respond to any reported emergency issues in relation to weather events and are final preparation stages in advance of the Winter Maintenance Season Starting on October 15th. Operating procedures have been reviewed and accepted by our Health and Safety Team and Trade Unions to ensure adequate control measures are in place ahead of the winter season.
The team is continuing to support colleagues in Waste with the operation of Mavis Valley Transfer Station, providing traffic management to assist with the control of vehicles accessing the site.
Roads Inspectors are now carrying out all statutory safety inspection routes as well as investigating issues reported across the road network. As operations by utility companies have now increased the inspectors along with the Utility technician have commenced inspections of their operations as required. Inspectors and technician are now continuing to review and process and permit applications submitted to the Roads authority.
The Roads technical team has continued to complete advanced preparation works for Capital projects as well as gather information for annual Asset Management and Performance submissions. The team is also working on preparing of several Tenders for other Capital Works, including frameworks which may assist in delivery of projects delayed due to COVID 19.
The Roads lighting operational team, was initially only responding to life and limb emergency however the team has now amended working procedures and risk assessments which has allowed the team to return to standard operations, albeit with reduced resources. Some routine repairs to footpath light units are still on hold due to social distancing requirements. The team is now progressing with all reported lighting issues on the Network as well as assisting the Community protection team with the erection of temporary CCTV cameras.
The lighting technical team continues to work on ongoing tasks suited to home based working such as processing inventory records, updating and data cleansing. Officers have returned to site inspection duties and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. Advanced preparation ahead of this year Christmas Light installation works has also been carried out with materials now ordered to allow installation to begin in the coming weeks. The team is progressing design for capital upgrade works and is working with our Health and Safety team to amend the necessary Risk Assessment and safe Working Practises to allow a return to the capital street lighting upgrade projects. The team is also responded to any planning applications which have been received.
The Roads Network Team is continuing to review Risk Assessment and Safe Working Practises in response to the Government guidance and are actively working towards increasing activities to allow a return to the Capital Resurfacing programme. Initially it is expected that the footpath resurfacing will commence first with the carriageway projects following on when transport and welfare facilities are addressed.
Roads Technical & Engineering
The Drainage Team is currently carrying out drainage repairs at the junction of Gallowhill Road and Lenzie Road, Kirkintilloch. They have also been attending sites across the authority area where there have been reports of flooding/drainage issues. To help with this, interviews for a new Drainage Officer have taken place and it is expected that a candidate will be appointed shortly. Online planning consultation for the River Glazert restoration project is expected to begin at the end of October.
The Structures Team continues with the work previously reported and to assist the work of other Teams that has a structural element.
The Traffic Team is running the road safety calendar competition in schools as usual. Entries are due on 23 October. Preparations for various capital works are underway, including a gateway project in Milton of Campsie and a redesign of the mini roundabout at Auchinloch Road/Lenzie Road following an incident with a bus. Design works for future A803 traffic corridor improvements continue. The September round of traffic surveys has bee carried out. Officers will analyse these to see the impact of the pandemic at our authority boundary.
The Development Team have been on site working with developers on remedial issues at sites before roads adoption can be undertaken and working with Major Assets on coordinating road works necessary for the early years projects.
The teams continue the grass cutting routes, and have ordered in grass cutting and lifting equipment to have a final cut and lift of school sites. Restricted street litter bin uplift and street sweeping also continue, and the herbicide contract has been completed for street verges. Pitch lining and inspection has restarted and the pitch feeding programme has been arranged.
Streetscene Technical Support
Kilmardinny House extension with the installation of the wedding gazebo to take place on 12th October, the boundary wall work is nearing completion and paving to be laid imminently following installation of lighting cabling. Minor tree works and dead tree removal has been arranged at the House entrance. The team is awaiting soil analysis results for Etive Park. Temporary Merkland fencing to be installed in mid October. The team have recently created orders for the following projects - Matta Mat Play Park repair, School Bulb competition, path repair at Lenzie Moss, Glen, Twechar and Lennoxtown, refurbishment of wood carvings, monoblocking of Meadowburn steps side, Major redesign of Afton View Play Parks and play park at Lennox Park, wetpour repairs in a number of EDC sites, and bulb planting order for amenity open spaces.
Mugdock Country Park continues to be a popular destination for local residents and visitors. Footfall is expected to rise during the school October week holiday although the events programme has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Signage and the one way system has been refreshed with 2-metre distancing re-introduced to the Visitor Centre. Recent restrictions apply to tearoom, cafe and restaurant and indoor space is still not able to be hired out. The date for the next joint management committee has yet to be confirmed. Unauthorised access to the quarry in the park has reduced as the temperature has dropped and work has been carried out to improve the security of the fencing round this site. The team is awaiting a Letter of Engagement to be finalised in order for contractors to prepare a specification for procurement to replace the Septic Tank. Costs are being sought for the repair of the walled garden/bandstand area, and stone BBQ area redesign.
EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 9 October 2020
All schools and early years’ centres continue to operate well with the new arrangements in place. The procedures, when there is a positive case in a school, have been implemented in a number of schools. The Head Teacher carries out a risk assessment, supported by the Chief Education Officer, and the Executive Officer, with responsibility for Environmental Health. If a child or class group requires to self-isolate then home learning is provided. It is clear that the increase in the infection rate within the community is impacting on the number of cases being reported in schools.
The Scottish Government and the SQA have confirmed the arrangements for the National Qualifications next year. This has significant implications for young people in S4 to 6. The Quality Improvement Officer for Secondary will support schools to implement the revised arrangements, particularly for pupils studying at National 5. All secondary schools are working to develop a programme to support pupils affected by learning loss. This will be supported by the central Education budget and schools will supplement this through Pupil Equity Funding.
The roll out of cashless catering, which is being supported by the Change Team and Facilities Management, will enable all children to purchase school meals. At present cashless catering is only available in secondary schools and a small number of primary schools. Education are working with Facilities Management to introduce a hot meal option in all schools and early years’ centres. Schools will be supported to introduce this but still ensure that the physical distancing between class groups is maintained.
Digital learning continues to be developed in all schools with professional learning for staff as a priority. The use of IT platforms to support pupils to engage on on-line learning both at home and in school are being implemented in all primary and secondary schools.
The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services with significant workstreams around major assets, various Property Maintenance contracts and other needs across services such as Education and Roads.
The team continues to monitor supply chain for PPE stocks and other critical supplies at this time. The centralisation of PPE Procurement to Broomhill Stores is currently facilitated by the Procurement Team, co-ordinating logistical requirements for PPE to HSCP, Education, Operational Services, etc. This is carried out through close working with the Senior Health & Safety Adviser, ensuring updated guidance is reflected in PPE items required for our workforce.
Business Grants, School Clothing Grants, Education Trip repayments, Early Years grants, Care providers additional funding requests, etc are being processed via the Procurement Support team supporting achievement of Government payment commitments.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Health & Safety
The Senior Health & Safety Adviser continues to support services in the preparation of Risk Assessment and associated PPE, aligned to Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance. Services across Council, HSCP and EDLCT are continuing to comply fully with the latest Public Health guidance based on the activities performed.
The Health & Safety Team delivered a service reintroduction programme to around 70 operatives on a number of the areas including Risk Assessment, Health Surveillance and Tool checks. These sessions were delivered over 2 days, which allowed for Question & Answer sessions, PPE distribution and local delivery arrangements to be discussed.
Risk assessments continue to be developed and progressed through established governance structures for a number of services including Music Tuition, PE and other relates practical subjects. Engagement has commenced following the Scottish Government publishing of the Guidance on Adult Social Care Building Based Day Services .
The team has supported and delivered a number of priority areas including Winter Maintenance response, Christmas Decoration assembly and erection, EDLCT Football Coaching and EDLCT Auld Kirk and Lillie Art Gallery resumption.
Social Work Commissioning Team
The team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services throughout this time.
The Team plays a central role in the response to Care Home interaction with Care Inspectorate on a number of priority areas as well as collating responses to the status of Care Homes within the various reporting requirements.
Work will continue into winter for the HSCP Mobilisation Plan for additional costs incurred for providers and Care Home Sustainability payments. A Governance Panel was held on 6 October to consider the latest claims received.
Engagement continues with providers and other Local Authorities to understand the challenges and strategies being deployed in other areas.
Human Resources & Organisational Development
The team continues to support the return to work for employees and monitor the measures in place in partnership with Managers and Head Teachers.
Absence analysis continues and in particular, trends analysis relating to COVID-19 and other absences for Quarter 3. Responses to any COVID-19 related workforce matters continue to be progressed, in accordance with relevant public health guidance.
A number of recruitment campaigns have been launched with officer support for key areas such as FM, Homecare and other recruitment requirements.
Cases are progressing where deemed appropriate for Discipline, Grievances and Absence with an assessment on whether these require to be virtual or in an office environment with all relevant safety measures being considered.
Delivery to support all employees including those who are home working continues through Learning & Development and enhancement of the Employee Zone for Wellbeing.
Business & Digital Change Team
The team continues to support a number of workstreams to support digital development ensuring that existing systems continue to be supported and maintained.
The team has implemented a new Cemeteries Management system which replaces the previous, manually intensive paper-based system. The new system meets the council’s statutory requirement to record and store burial information electronically whilst increasing service performance by enabling easier and faster burial information retrieval when responding to customers.
The team continue to lead the administration of the Transitional Support Fund for Childcare Providers. To date over £200k of grants have been awarded.
New eforms are continually being developed to meet demand including a new allotment waiting list which aligns to our Food Growing Strategy and will enable our residents to apply for a plot using an online form. This should be available from January 2021 allowing relevant parties to note their interest in time for Spring.
Work continues to progress Cashless Catering for schools. Site surveys have been carried out for each school to confirm equipment requirements. Supplier engagement remains ongoing with the development of a deployment schedule for Primary schools who do not currently have the functionality in place. A pre order mobile app is being progressed for Secondary School pupils. Engagement continues with stakeholders in ICT, Estates, Property Maintenance and Education.
The team are in the final stages of securing a 6 month contract extension for “Helping Hands”. This system helps manage the provision of local support to vulnerable people in the community as part of the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. And will also now support the Test & Protect proactive calls to those self-isolating within the community.
Legal & Democratic Services
The team continues to support the Council’s COVID-19 civil contingencies response, supporting command structures at Council, local, regional and national level. Work is focused on the recovery phase, lessons learned and in support of Test and Protect. In addition, Members of the Team continue to attend meetings of LARGS in support of these matters and are working across the network to look at concurrency issues through a series of thematic sessions. These sessions seek to share development work and good practice in relation to issues that all Councils are having to revisit with a “COVID-lens” e.g. the impact of COVID on existing civil contingency arrangements for bad weather and other business as usual civil contingency events. As part of this, the Team is reviewing the Council’s current civil contingency arrangements to identify necessary changes or supplementary requirements in light of COVID-19. This is challenging in light of the changing environment in terms of the trajectory of infection rates and has to be flexible enough to adapt to developing circumstances e.g. the recent local lockdown and increasing national restrictions.
In addition to the above, work is continuing on detailed planning for a recurrence of COVID in the winter months. Regular meetings are taking place at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at subject specific issues e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary. In addition the Team is supporting colleagues in dealing with support to those isolating due to Test and Protect.
The Team continues to be involved in the strategic management of Registration Services at a local and regional level to inform the national picture regarding the management of additional deaths during this pandemic and working with partners to support a Greater Glasgow & Clyde-wide response. The registration of births and marriages/civil partnerships has been supported by colleagues in Legal Services and has bedded in well, and progress is being made in addressing the significant backlog of birth registrations. In addition, the Team is feeding into discussions at a regional and national level, which seek to embed some aspects of the move to remote/online registration where possible and practical to do so. The Team continues to monitor the national position and infection rates so that additional resources can be deployed if necessary.
Previous easing of restrictions in line with the Scottish Government roadmap resulted in clearer guidance for some marriages and civil partnership ceremonies being reintroduced. As a result of significant support and assistance from colleagues in Customer Services, Facilities Management and Health & Safety the Team now has appropriate risk assessments and procedures in place to commence ceremonies. At present, Kilmardinny remains closed and so ceremonies are taking place at 21 Southbank Road for now. Recent restrictions have not impacted on this at present and so the service continues to operate on this reduced basis.
Work to reintroduce ceremonies within private venues e.g. hotels etc remains ongoing. The Team is developing processes to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to protect the Registrar or Assistant Registrar in attending private premises for the purposes of conducting a ceremony. Notwithstanding, the Team is closely monitoring this situation given the reintroduction of additional restrictions which mean that it is no longer permissible for ceremonies to take place in the garden of a domestic dwelling, and in the event of any restriction on numbers attending. This is also being reviewed in light of this weeks new restrictions.
Notwithstanding the pause in some of the workstreams around Care for People and Shielding, the Team continues to work to support governance matters and civil contingencies input in relation to Outbreak Management & concurrency issues as more services are “switched back on”, and is supporting colleagues in Place and Community Planning in these efforts locally and nationally. This area of work will increase in the next few weeks given the recent measures introduced and the need to have support arrangements in place for those required to self isolate. In addition, the Team continues to participate in work to capture the events of the last few months from a civil contingencies perspective, as part of a local, regional and national “lessons learned” exercise. Correspondence around EU Exit Planning continues to increase and this is now emerging as yet another of many corporate risks, requiring the attention of the Council as regional, and national agencies (WoSRRP & CoSLA) begin to activate existing regional planning groups. Work to prepare for a no deal EU Exit will start to take up more officer time over the coming months.
Members will be aware that work has commenced on preparations for the Scottish Parliament Election scheduled for May 2021. This planning also requires additional attention as a “COVID-lens” is applied to conventional election workstreams on a local and national basis. The work plan for this includes a review of the lay out of all polling places and the arrangements for counting votes. A small multi service team is being pulled together so that detailed planning can commence. Contingency plans will be prepared which anticipate a resurgence in the virus and measures put in place to secure the availability of the core election team. All aspects of the process and arrangements will be subject to robust risk assessments in order to protect employees, voters and candidates. Further Technical Notes will be issued and reports submitted to Council as this work develops.
The Team continues to work with ICT on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making. The team is preparing for a cycle of virtual Committee meetings between October and December which includes a number of Boards and other meetings and Members will have started to receive various invites.
Whilst the bulk of the Council’s Placing Request Appeals hearings have taken place, the Team continues to deal with the after effects and is responding to a number of queries and requests for information. In addition, a meeting of the Placing Request Appeals Committee to consider late appeals was held on 22nd September, concluding the term intake for 20/21
Throughout the pandemic, the Team has continued to support the Children’s Panel Hearings process and continues to work with the Area Support Team, Learning & Development Committee, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland via remote video meetings. The annual Panel Member recruitment process that, normally takes place between August to October, has been continued to January to February 2021. The Team will administer/support this process as with previous years.
The team continues to support to services in relation to information management, data protection and data sharing, which are critical in these circumstances and has supported various services in the ongoing development and amendment of Privacy Notices and Privacy Impact Assessments for new workstreams and the establishment of information sharing agreements and protocols which assist the Council in its work to protect some of the most vulnerable residents. In addition to supporting the Council’s postal mail services, the Team has been busy with print activity in support of schools. Work has recently been concluded in responding to a significant request for information received from an external enquiry body and further generic and individual specific requests are anticipated which will place an ongoing demand on the Team .
SMT Support & Members Support Teams
The SMT Support team is working with the CMT and SMT to assist in the re-introduction of services across portfolios and continue to support other areas of the wider service and beyond as required. The Team continues to support the CMT, SMT and Departmental Management Teams with processes for remote meetings, production of Committee Reports and Elected Member Technical Notes. The Members Support Team also continues to support Elected Members. The forthcoming Committee cycle will place additional demands on the team given its role in the administration of the report writing process.
Many of the Legal Services team’s resources continue to be dedicated to guiding the Major Assets services through the negotiation and conclusion of the Council’s capital projects and attentions are now focused on the negotiation of contracts for the new Allander, Boclair Academy and Kirkintilloch Community Sports Hub projects. Due to the nature of these contracts (in terms of complexity, scale and value), these are particularly time and resource intensive. In tandem with this, the team is also collaborating with the Housing Service in respect of delivery of its many capital projects and in the recommencement of open market purchases and shared equity buy-backs to increase the provision of affordable housing within East Dunbartonshire. One of the main issues with existing and planned contracts is how they deal with the allocation of the responsibility for risks to the projects presented by not only Covid-19 but also the UK’s exit from the EU. This requires sophisticated contract drafting and intense negotiations with bidders in order to ensure that the Council is protected but also that the best commercial terms are reached and the projects remain affordable.
Further resource continues to be dedicated to interpreting, assessing and, where necessary, optimising or protecting the Council from the impact of the pandemic on its legal interests, the ripples of which continue to emerge. One particularly busy area of work continues to be in relation to the various grant offers, which the Council is receiving. Each grant comes with terms and conditions which the Team assesses and then advises the relevant service in relation to any potential risks or performance/reporting requirements. This work can often be challenging - whilst the terms and conditions are not overly complex, the volume and increasingly short turnaround times within which the grant has to be accepted in order for the Council to access funds can at times impact on other work.
The team also works closely with the procurement team in ensuring procurement processes are complying with the changing law in this area and that the flexibilities offered by Government guidance are used. This also involves the drafting and documentation of contracts with suppliers of goods, works and services to the Council.
On top of this, the Commercial team is endeavouring to carrying out its “business as usual” activities where required in support of a Council priority. These include land transactions and commercial agreements, which seek to improve the Council’s position.
In respect of litigation, court work is restarting with some “in person” hearings having now taken place, including in relation to education and social work matters. In addition, video hearings are continuing for matters, which make this possible including in relation to housing and employment actions. The Team continues to support the Council’s services in the management of various complex matters, which are currently at the pre-litigation stage, in an effort to mitigate effects on the Council. In addition, the team is currently preparing for a public inquiry in relation to a compulsory purchase order.
A significant amount of work has been dedicated to the resumption of quasi-judicial boards. In conjunction with colleagues in Democratic Services, a round of virtual Licensing Boards and Civic Government Appeals Boards have now taken place and further dates will be scheduled to the end of the calendar year. Applicants for licences and their representatives will continue to join virtually and the meetings, where appropriate, will be streamed live on YouTube.
The team provides close support to colleagues in social work in respect of sensitive matters involving children, families and vulnerable adults some of which are particularly pressing at the current time. This includes providing and collating information in respect of a major Inquiry. As always, the team provides strategic advice and support to its colleagues in other services on the full range of legal issues currently and normally facing the Council. At the moment, that is particularly complex and resource intensive.
The team is also preparing for a Sheriff Court proof in respect of a particularly important and sensitive housing matter and is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of lockdown in March and other matters which have arisen since.
Customer and Business Support Services
The Shared Services team continues to support areas across the council, in particular the Transactional Finance team have been supporting Education through the transport team, who have issued the outcomes to parents for concessionary transport to resume after the October break. The Education Maintenance Allowance team continue to input large volumes of applications onto the system in order that school pupils over the age of 16 receive their award as soon as possible and the School Support Co-ordinators continue to support the Head Teachers through challenging times. The Shared Services Team are also making preparations for call handling support for the Test & Protect service support line launch on the 12th of October.
Revenues and Benefits
The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to cope with unprecedented demand on the services we deliver, particularly Crisis Grants. The Revenues and Benefits team are working with colleagues from Organisational Transformation, Finance and Place and Community Planning to prepare for the introduction of the ‘Self-Isolation Support Grant’ on behalf of the Scottish Government. We are liaising with the Scottish Government and other Local Authorities to ensure we are ready to deliver this essential support from the 12th of October, when we will begin contacting those who have been asked to self-isolate to establish eligibility for the £500 grant and process payments for successful claimants. Preparations are also underway to evaluate the implications for the distribution of the £40million grants from the Scottish Government announced this week.
Non Domestic rates continues to see higher than normal levels of work in support of local businesses. The Small Business Bonus Review is now underway and having issued letters to over 1500 recipients of the relief we are seeing a healthy return of applications which the team are now working through.
The support teams continue to provide hardware and software support to both corporate and educations users. ICT are providing ongoing patching and software updates to keep devices safe and secure. There is still a high focus on ICT development projects to support digital learning within Education. ICT are working cross-functionally with 3rd parties to enable a safe and secure device environment for 1200 pupil devices that are to be issued out. The ongoing device replacement programme will see the replacement of over 600 devices whilst continuing to support and configure devices bought by the individual schools. There is also planned work to improve remote access for the Secondary schools and increase WIFI capacity across the schools estate. Early Years and other Major Assets projects have resumed and ICT are providing key infrastructure to support the digital requirements of these buildings.
Corporate Performance & Research
The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues to support data collation and analysis across all Council services and the HSCP social care services to meet continuing national Covid-19 reporting requirements and inform the national position. The reduced national reporting frequency has remained constant in recent months. Data continues to be recorded for local performance indicators and performance reporting. Quality assurance work and data cleansing also continues across the data systems used for reporting returns, with improvements being implemented in key service areas to give better confidence in data returns. Significant work has been undertaken this month to prepare and submit the social care SOURCE return. Work also continues in responding to insurance enquiries and liaising with our insurers and claims handlers in relation to enquiries and claims.
Communications support continues to be provided to all Council services and to the HSCP and EDLC Trust, over 7 days where required, including out of hours and emergency communications.
The Communications Team continues to respond to the key messaging required in relation to Covid-19. Over the past fortnight this has included sharing communications from Scottish Government and stakeholders in relation to the latest Covid-19 messages, and Employee News communications in relation to not attending the workplace with symptoms and following FACTS guidance (1 October) and communications in relation to face coverings in the workplace (9 October). Collaboration continues across Glasgow City Region authorities to ensure co-ordinated and consistent messaging and through the resilience partnership (WoSRRP) communications group.
Regular updates continue to be provided to the Council website and the website content and structure is being adapted to ensure residents can clearly navigate to the latest updates and guidance in relation to Council services and the national key messages from partners. The Employee Zone of the website is being expanded and developed and support for the regular delivery of internal communications with Organisational Transformation and the issue of Employee News and the reintroduced Depute Chief Executives’ Update are key elements of internal communications.
The communications team is supporting the live streaming of public meetings, working closely with Democratic Services and ICT Services to stream meetings through the Council’s you tube channel, including the Council meeting on Thursday 1 October. Viewing figures show that for the Council meeting on 1 October a total of 121 people viewed the meeting with a maximum of 41 viewing at any one time for an average of 30.39 minutes.
Social media messaging continues to be an important tool for informing residents of key Council communications and sharing partner communications. The Council currently has just over 17k Facebook followers and the three posts with the highest reach were the ongoing Balmore Road closure (24k) Planning permission granted for new Boclair Academy (21k) and the flu vaccination campaign (8k). There are almost 18,400 Twitter followers. The posts in the last fortnight with the widest reach were the ongoing Balmore Road closure (31k) the national Autism campaign (21k) and Gallowhill Road disruption (19k).
The team continue to provide information to and respond to enquiries from national and local broadcast and print media. In the last two weeks there have been 17 media enquiries responded to and 5 releases issued.
In addition to recruitment campaigns and the ongoing child protection awareness raising, there have been reminders to the beauty/hair dressing industry to ensure masks are worn and no under mast treatments carried out:
The Emergency Response Centre continues to provide customer support 24/7 for the hour care alarm service, CCTV monitoring and emergency communication across services out of hours as required.
The wider Customer Services team is responding to changing numbers of daily enquiries, which correlate to service changes and reintroductions and local measures in place in response to Covid-19. Call volumes vary dependent on service changes and reintroductions and enquiries include seeking information on services not yet able to be resumed. Calls are also received seeking clarification on new national measures announced. Clear signposting continues to be provided to NHS and Scottish Government sources in relation to current health guidance and the national position in relation to restrictions in place to control the continuing spread of Covid-19.
Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance. The appointment only based approach that has been introduced for licensing continues to work effectively.
Registration services (delivered by Assistant Registrars in Customer Services) continue to provide 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase, in line with current guidance on how registrations can be conducted. Death registrations continue to be delivered remotely by the Assistant Registrars based in Kirkintilloch Community Hub with access to registration stationery for the provision and issue of official certificates and documentation. The Assistant Registrars are also continuing to progress the backlog of birth registrations, and from 28 September August births were able to be registered as well as September, to bring the backlog up to date. An appointment based system is also in place for the registration of marriage paperwork. All registration appointments take place in Kirkintilloch Community Hub and are conducted in line with current guidance. Ceremonies have been reintroduced for marriages and civil partnerships and are being conducted at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been assessed and set up for this purpose in line with current guidance and restrictions.
The successful recruitment campaign for Customer Service Agents led to a high calibre of candidates for interview and appointments will be made this month following the interview process.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 9 October 2020
HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning
The Health and Social Care Partnership continues to operate to its Business Continuity Plan and Covid-19 specific annex, which includes additional detail in areas including service prioritisation, team consolidation and merging, public protection, commissioned services, capacity and communication, albeit levels of direct intervention and support to vulnerable and at risk people have been increased, where possible and safe, in line with national guidance. Services have updated their Business Continuity Plans, as part of surge planning, with the overarching HSCP Business Continuity Plan and Covid-19 annex also being refreshed. This is to ensure that lessons learned during the first active phase during March to July 2020 can enhance service response to local/national resurgence. The HSCP’s risk register has also been updated to take account of current business continuity aspects. Local resilience planning and reporting continues to be undertaken through the HSCP’s fortnightly Local Resilience Management Team. Virtual management team meetings are also well established and the HSCP Board resumed business from its June 25 meeting, albeit by virtual means, with the most recent meeting being 17 September.
In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, a HSCP Recovery and Transition Plan has been developed and was approved by the HSCP Board on 17 September, supported by tools to assist services and teams. This work takes account of the likely continuation of business continuity and contingency over an extended period of time, but aims to ensure that these interim arrangements work as well as they can and that services can remobilise wherever possible and safe to do so. The plan is also designed to ensure that services prepare well for the potential scenarios that lie ahead over winter, with resurgence of the virus expected to persist over this period. This process provides additional qualitative detail to that which is set out in the business continuity framework. Service level recovery and transition plans are now in place for all operational HSCP services that assess changes that have been made as part of the HSCP’s response to COVID-19 and to consider the impact on service users, staff, clinicians and partner organisations. These will be updated iteratively in line with the phased national Route-map and the development of more detailed guidance.
In addition to service-specific Service Recovery and Transition Plans, there are also a number of cross-cutting issues, such as: congregate services, workplace, governance, public protection and PPE. These are being taken forward by SMT leads, in conjunction with Council Executive Officers in line with the latest Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance.
A key additional challenge now is planning for the roll out of the annual Flu Vaccination programme, which this year will be available to approximately double the number of people in the community than usual due to a lowering of the age range (c.22000 people). A plan is now well developed for the delivery of this programme, in conjunction with the Health Board and general practice.
Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it and we have now relocated the PPE Hub from the Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre to space at the Woodlands Centre in Kirkintilloch, in order to allow scope for leisure services to resume in line with agreed plans.
Annual (2019-20) and Quarter 1 (March to June 2020) HSCP performance reports were considered by the HSCP Board at its September meeting, which provides indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19, across HSCP functions and services.
Public protection work, which includes child and adult protection, drug and alcohol services, and a range of justice services, continues to be delivered. The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) has been temporarily revised to introduce more frequent meetings, but with an agenda narrowed to focus on key areas of risk.
The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued to meet fortnightly and reports directly to COG. The groups ensures there is management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection. As there is a requirement to report statistics to the Scottish Government, our data is reported and analysed at this forum prior to submission. This group has included work to support early release of prisoners in collaboration with Housing services.
Practices and processes for protection functions are updated in line with revised national guidance and the contents of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. The Covid-19 Annex of the HSCP’s Business Continuity Plan sets out the Business Continuity arrangements that have been put in place for public protection functions. A specific public protection covid-19 risk register has also been developed to support ongoing work. Items of concern are noted and escalated to COG. It that been observed that protection referrals have returned to pre Covid rates and in some cases are now in excess of this.
Service Delivery Impacts
Most social care services continue to be delivered on a business as usual basis e.g. statutory assessment and supervision services, care at home and residential care, although the way that these services are delivered has been impacted by social distancing constraints. Initially a number of services had been suspended or reduced in line with social distancing requirements such as day services, group work, overnight residential respite and Unpaid Work. Many of these fall into the category of congregate services, which has been the subject of separate Elected Member Technical Notes and direct correspondence with service users and families, most recently week ending 2 October.
Where services were stopped or closed during lockdown, they are now preparing to recommence in line with national guidance and appropriate risk assessments on an individual needs-led basis. These circumstances will continue to remain subject to change in response to changing levels of infection risk in our communities or requirement to comply with any future local or national lockdown measures. Guidance in relation to day services was issued 31 August 2020 and guidance in relation to respite care on 7 September 2020. Both place significant responsibility with local risk-based decision-making. Alternative services have been provided where possible, with families and informal carers also stepping in to provide increased levels of support. Voluntary support has also been arranged to provide ongoing contact and monitoring of need.
The HSCP is working with EDC colleagues to consider the necessary risk assessment, trades union negotiation and practical amendments to enable more direct work with customers to resume as the waiting lists for service continue to rise. The restarting of congregate services will be particularly carefully managed in the context of Covid-19 community transmission levels.
Assessment and Care Management
Social Work assessment and care management referrals reduced sharply during the early stages of lockdown, similar to the reduction in referrals to NHS services. Referrals are now back to pre-Covid levels and assessment activity is increasing again accordingly. The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services, mostly working from home, with physically distant customer contact wherever possible.
Contact and Monitoring is being maintained through digital mechanisms and phone calls wherever possible, whilst fulfilling the requirements of statutory orders and public protection requirements, although in line with Scottish Government guidance face to face contacts for the most vulnerable and at risk has been increased.
The Persons at Risk Database (PARD) that was been established to identify HSCP service users requiring ongoing contact during the Covid-19 response time period continues to be actively used. Numbers on the PARD remain static at around 5700 people. Those who do not receive a direct and ongoing care package e.g. home care, are contacted on a frequency that is defined by the assessed level of risk to their welfare and levels of need.
All of the Council’s in-house social care services continue to operate, with the exception of day services - Kelvinbank Day Service and Milan remain closed with staff providing cover into the care at home service. The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis. The appropriate reconfiguration of day care services for the future to comply with social distancing requirements will be a challenge, but now supported by Scottish Government guidance issued on 31 August. The East Dunbartonshire HSCP Chief Officer has assumed the lead for a pan-GG&C Day Services Working Group to support sharing of information, good practice and practical considerations with neighbouring areas.
Testing for Social Care Staff
There is access to testing for all social care staff who are symptomatic or who are isolating due to sharing a household with a symptomatic family member. This testing is available regardless of who the staff member is employed by and includes the third and independent sector registered services. The referral link has been shared with all registered service providers and in house service managers.
In addition to the testing that has been rolled out to all care home residents and staff (services for older people and others such as mental health and learning disability services) where an outbreak is confirmed or suspected, as well as on a weekly rolling programme. The national testing strategy continues to develop and we continue to respond to any new requirements this brings. Re-opening of schools has increased demand on covid testing, which has had a knock on effect on turn around of provision of results, which is proving challenging for timescales for required assurance processes within care services.
Support to Care Homes
A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP has been scaled back to a 5 day a week service in line with recovery planning, but can be scaled up as required. In line with Scottish Government requirements the HSCP has in place a daily safety ‘huddle’ to oversee the position of each local care home and is supporting care homes to move to the new national Digital Daily Huddle. Testing of care home residents and staff is closely monitored through the daily safety huddle.
A Large Scale Investigation under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 continues into care at one facility in the area and will conclude in the next two weeks. This facility has been subject to a Care Inspectorate inspection which has reported improved performance resulting in improved grades.
Another care facility in our area, from which EDC commissions nursing care places has been inspected in the last week by the Care Inspectorate and is subject to Enforcement Action by way of an Improvement Notice. The home has until end October to deliver on requirements relating to key features of care and support, infection prevention and control, staffing and management and leadership. The HSCP is actively providing support to this home to improve and is focussed on ensuring oversight of the wellbeing and safety of residents via our enhanced care homes assurance and oversight responsibilities.
A national report on temporary transfers of older people to care homes that was expected last week is still to be published. This report was commissioned in response to nationally reported concerns about the use of care home places to support freeing up of hospital beds. The report will include data for the local area.
Support to Home Care
A shared ‘Commitment to Care at Home’ has been developed and signed off through the pan-GG&C Care at Home Group. The commitment clarifies the shared approaches to maintaining service delivery, support to frontline staff, guidance around the use of PPE, and access to enhanced clinical support and/ or training. The pan-GG&C Care at Home has determined how to have a shared approach to the reintroduction of care to people who had declined service during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, centred on reablement and the application of eligibility criteria. The intention being that all 6 areas are broadly in step, recognising their own specific local policies and Council position around recovery.
The Care Inspectorate have reported on their desk top inspection of care at home and housing support services with positive outcomes and reminders only for services to adhere to the health and care standards and person centred support planning.