Coronavirus (Covid 19) Service Update 6 November 2020

PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 October 2020

Assets and Facilities

Facilities Management

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 for schools now complete with recruitment ongoing to fill Early Years positions. School catering service now expanded to offer hot meals to all pupils in Secondary Schools and Early Years facilities and pupils entitled to free school meals in Primary Schools. Work is on-going to establish an interim payment system to allow all other pupils in Primary Schools the option to purchase a hot meal.

Property Maintenance

The service continuing to undertake 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. 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 despite a change to the required deadline from Scottish Government. 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 with projects now expected to finish in early 2021. Work continues to progress well across sites. Construction of a new synthetic pitch at Lenzie Academy is due to start in November.  The award of the contract for replacement pitches at Torrance and Hillhead PS is expected in November.

Early works continue to progress at Boclair Academy and the construction of the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex and Allander Leisure Centre is now expected to begin in November.  Design and cost development continues to progress for the ASN project which remains subject to securing Planning consent.

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 and to deliver a range of other capital projects across the operational estate.

Housing

Housing Capital

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.  The installation of integrated smoke detectors continues to progress across the Housing estate.

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 and piling continue on the former TJH site and a Report is due for PNCA in November to seek approval for the award of the Phase 3 (Lairdsland) contract.  Construction is thereafter due to begin in January 2021.  The SHIP 2021-2026 is now under consultation and the Council's new Affordable Housing Investment programme continues to be drafted and will be subject to a Committee Report in 2021. 

Homelessness & Prevention

New homelessness applications remain low; 146 applications to date since April 2020 (down 50% +). Currently 311 homeless households awaiting offer of settled accommodation; 11 of the 311 have been waiting 3 years or more (4% significant reduction in 2 years).  There are 77 homeless households currently under offer. Homelessness and Allocations Teams working closely with PM voids team to support households move to their new homes.

Homelessness Out of Hours Service continues to be busy; 211 calls received since April 2020 (during 2019/20 163 calls were received).  Ongoing work with key partners - Scottish Prison Service, Police Scotland, Criminal Justice and Social Work to support households leaving prison (11 scheduled releases to year end).

9 households have been booked into temporary accommodation, none of which were booked into B&B in last 2 weeks. 14 vacant temporary accommodation properties currently being progressed by the voids team. Rent Deposit Officer working with agents/landlords in area to help households find settled accommodation in private sector. Since April, 25 households supported to move into private settled accommodation (resolving homelessness and taking pressure off temporary accommodation). 7 more households being supported to attend viewings and complete Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme applications.

Since April, 75 households, struggling at this time, have been referred to Housing Support Officers (82 live cases). Landlord Registration Officer plays a key role ensuring that the 3239 landlords in the area are provided with advice/assistance with regards their legal obligations.  Since April 2020, 105 new landlords have registered, 515 landlords renewed their registration; 60 of which were subject to late application fee as despite several reminders did not renew on time.

Rota in place to ensure the Homelessness Service is able to support households over the festive period. Team will operate a 24/7 emergency only service from 14 December - 8 January 2021 with housing options appointments recommencing on 11 January 2021. Ensuring suitable accommodation is available over the festive period is always a challenge and dependant on demand; team will work with key partners to ensure accommodation is readily available within supported accommodation i.e. First Stop, multi-occupancy units, Canal Project and Ravenswood. As a last resort, B&B accommodation will be provided, with Officers ensuring that emergency Housing Support referrals are put in place until 8 January.  

Housing Operations - Estates

The team is continuing to work with the Property Maintenance (PM) voids team to ensure the voids backlog is progressed as quickly as possible with new properties coming on stream each week.  There have been 7 new sign-ups over the last 2 weeks and a further 17 set of keys returned from PM to allow viewings and new tenancies to be created this week. The team is also working with Legal, Police Scotland and Community Safety teams to deal with anti-social behaviour cases through requesting Short SST conversions.

Rents

The Rents Team continue to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support continues to be offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of pandemic or are struggling to pay their rent.  There are some tenants who do not pay and/or engage and the service is issuing 1st and 2nd reminder letters.  There are no current court actions for rent arrears and evictions cannot be considered until after March 2021.  The team continue to support and assist tenants with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and referring to CAB where required to support income maximisation.

Current rent arrears are £1,364,396 (week 30), this is an increase of £111k based on same week as last year. Recent changes implemented by the DWP now means that UC housing costs are starting to be paid directly to EDC on the same day as the tenant will received their UC. There a backlog of payments still coming through as UC is paid in arrears. These payments will come through in the next few 4 weekly schedules along with arrears payments and also rent payments for those tenants not on the landlord portal.

Tenant Participation

Work is ongoing along with assistance from Corporate Communications for the next Taking Part newsletter due to be issued in early December. An online TPWG meeting took place on 29 October 2020 and attended by tenants, elected members and staff from Housing Services.

Land Planning and 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. 

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.  Consultation has now commenced on the Proposed LDP2 and will last until 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. Officers are also working on planning guidance, the historic environment designations review and site specific projects such as Kirkintilloch Gateway.

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. Consultation has now commenced on the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the Economic Recovery Plan and will last until 30 November 2020.

Work on a Draft Parking Management Plan is currently being worked on by officers ahead of it being presented to the Transport Working Group for discussion. This is one of a number of actions in the Local Transport Strategy, approved in March 2020 that is currently being progressed by the Land Planning Policy Team in conjunction with other Services.

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 approach to tackling climate change 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.
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 develop a comprehensive training package with the aim of upskilling officers and enhancing the accuracy of data being produced.  The team continue to support the planning and building standards departments.

City Deal

The City Deal team has been established with 2 dedicated Officers and a Team Leader, and one additional Officer will be appointed in the coming months.  Additional resource across the Council is being put in place to progress the projects.  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: procurement of consulting services in support of the Outline Business Case (OBC); programming of the individual projects and work relating to the OBC, work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval), and fee proposals for work relating to the Bishopbriggs Town Centre Public Realm Plan.

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. Officers are also developing a project brief and plan in partnership with Land Planning Policy which aims to create a new Kirkintilloch Gateway Masterplan to encourage regeneration of the site. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required and an update will be presented to an upcoming PNCA Committee. 

Business Support

The new grants application for the Coronavirus Restrictions Fund went live on Tuesday 20th October with over 115 applications received to date.  Further guidance continues to be sought from the Scottish Government on eligibility and criteria even though the fund is due for closure on 3rd November at 5.00pm.

A Contingency Grant to cover Nightclubs/Soft Play that have been continuously closed due to Corona Virus restrictions is currently being finalised by Scottish Government along with a one off grant of £1650 towards staff furlough costs for business impacted by the additional restrictions brought in on 9th October.  Full details of how these will be implemented have not been received.

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 which is due for submission on 4 November.  This is significant piece of work and will require collaboration between business support and rates due to the type of data being requested.

Business Gateway continues with its normal service provision however it 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.

Latest information from Business Gateway National shows that East Dunbartonshire BG has the 2nd highest rate of attendance for it’s workshops across Scotland exceeded only by Aberdeen.

The Business Support Team is working in conjunction with Employability and Public Sector Partners such as CAB, SDS, JobCentrePlus 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 continue to work on the A803 Signal Optimisation Project funded by 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.

A Design Consultant has now been appointed to develop the Canniesburn Toll Improvement Project. The project, which is funded through Developers Contributions, will look to install signals to the Toll as well as introduce improved pedestrian and cycle facilities.

Promotion of active travel in schools continue now that the Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders have been finalised. All signing and lining is now complete and enforcement underway.

Neighbourhood Services

Waste Services

Household Collection

The current collection activity is in line with previous updates. Despite some recent service disruption as a consequence of the ongoing Pandemic, waste collections are operating normally for residents whilst social distancing restrictions continue to apply in vehicles. The recent reported tonnage data shows our waste continues to remain above that of pre-Covid levels.

Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents. 

Green Waste Collection

As previously advised, the recently reintroduced Green Waste service will run for a final two weekly cycle for the year before standing down on Sunday 15th November. The service will recommence in March 2021.

Bulky/Special Collections

With the halt in Garden Waste Collections on 15th November, the service is now in a position to reinstate the Bulky collection service.  Members of the public will be able to book uplifts online (Preferred) and through the customer contact centre from Thursday 12th November, with physical uplifts commencing on Monday 16th November. The Service will endeavour to meet the standard timescales for collection of 10 working days, however given the continued fluctuation in resources, there may be a requirement to revise this dependant on demand levels.

Bin Deliveries

The service continues to work through requests for replacement bins as resources allow, with priority given to residual bin deliveries.

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

The household waste recycling centre has now moved on to winter operating hours with the site operational on reduced hours from 9am through to 4pm seven day per week. In line with previous updates throughput continues to be high, with traffic management support from the Roads team during the busy weekend periods.

Zero Waste & Clyde Valley updates

Officers are currently in discussion with a number of Scottish Local Authorities, including Clyde Valley partners, in order to determine what the current market position is in regard to the potential development of an integrated polymer recycling facility, here in Scotland. This would contribute to the Scottish Government’ circular economy ambitions, addressing the declared Climate Change Emergency with reduced emissions in line with Net-Zero and Zero-waste ambitions. Officers are also in dialogue through the Waste Managers Network on updating the Household Waste charter and the likely impact of the new Deposit Return Scheme. The Charter is currently under review through Zero Waste Scotland.

Christmas & New Year Operations

Preparations are underway in order to review arrangements for the upcoming festive period. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on resources for both vehicles and employees will require a change to normal service delivery over the Christmas and new year to ensure continuity over this period whilst maintaining the safety of employees and the public. Further information will be available in future updates. 

Fleet Services

Fleet Management

The service continues to manage the legal operation of the Councils fleet including compliance with the Goods Vehicle Operators licence, Drivers hours’ management and maintenance regimes. Officers continue to progress work on the fleet replacement programme for the year, with a range of vehicles delivered and introduced to the fleet. Work is also taking place in order to de-fleet and dispose of outgoing fleet assets in line with the replacement programme.

Fleet Maintenance

The fleet workshops based at the Hilton depot continue to service and maintain all front line Operational fleet vehicles and plant on a rotational shift basis. There has been an increase in demand due to the reintroduction of further front line operations therefore work is being prioritised in order to ensure essential services can continue to be delivered.

Electric Vehicle update

Following on from a recent tender exercise through Corporate Procurement service, returns received recently and funded via Transport Scotland, will allow orders to be placed for a further 18 Plug in Electric vehicles, for introduction to the fleet.  

Transport Operations

The transport team continue to support colleagues in Education and Facilities Management for ASN School Transport and Meal Deliveries across the Authority. The team also continue to Manage vehicle and plant hire activities in support of front line services in addition to managing the Councils Triscan Fuel Management and Masternaut Telematics systems across the Councils operations.

Place and Community Planning

Environmental Health Team

The recent rise in Covid-19 infections within the community has in turn led to an increase in demand for Environmental Health services.  An Environmental Health Officer is still working full time with public health partners at Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board on Contact Tracing.  Environmental Health staff are also working with Education in contact tracing within schools in liaison with health board colleagues through local Problem Assessment Groups (PAG’s) and Incident Management Teams (IMT’s).  We are also being advised of clusters within occupational settings that require to be investigated to ensure the adequate mitigation measures are being put in place by businesses to prevent virus transmission.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 came into force on Monday 2 November.  This replaced previous legislation that closed all licensed premises (aside from licensed cafes who could operate but not sell alcohol on site).

East Dunbartonshire Council has been placed into Level 3 of the tiered strategy within the regulations.  This means that various restrictions and requirements have been set including various premises being closed to the public until further notice.

With regard to hospitality premises, these can operate to serve food between 0600 – 1800hrs daily with last admittance 1700hrs.  No alcohol is permitted to be sold for consumption on premises whether inside or at external setting.  Takeaway services can operate as normal.  There are exemptions to the measures (e.g. for hotels and other accommodation settings, hospitals, prisons, student accommodation and for wedding/funeral receptions).

Environmental Health are continuing to visit hospitality settings to assess compliance with legislation and the Covid-19 controls.  Officers from the team are also providing individually tailored advice and guidance to our food and drink business community on both the legislation and Scottish Government guidance. The Team has been fielding and dealing with high numbers of service requests in relation to the regulations that have been put in place to help control Covid-19 including complaints, advice and enquiries about business compliance.  Other routine service requests such a food complaints continue to be received.  Furthermore the team are sampling foods from local businesses to assist in national monitoring surveys to ensure safety, composition and labelling is adhered to.

Away from business regulation, officers in Environmental Health continue to deal with other environmental regulation and public health in terms of Air Quality, Contaminated Land and numerous noise, odour, smoke and dampness service complaints.  The team are also assessing relevant incoming planning applications and providing comment for Planning colleagues on environmental public health considerations to be accounted for. 

With all staff working from home the need to keep in touch has been emphasised with various online engagements.  This includes team meetings, training courses, public health liaison groups, working groups and weekly meetings with health board and local resilience networks.  The Team Leader also monitors the ongoing EU Exit negotiations and associated trade deals as this will have implications for food safety work and businesses within the community.

Two members of the team are currently studying for a qualification in Official Control Verification of complex food operations which officers must have going forward in food inspection.  They will be examined under supervision later in November and we wish them well. 

Community Safety Team

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 have now also recommenced 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.

Patrols in relation to environmental incivility breaches as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in and around identified issue areas recommenced.  With organised fireworks displays being cancelled this year due to the current Covid 19 pandemic there is a concern that this will lead to an increase in informal firework events.  Officers have therefore been carrying out patrols in and around areas of known hotspots for bonfire and fireworks complaints/issues working with colleagues across other Council departments as well as Police Scotland and Scottish Fire & Rescue to minimise antisocial behaviour, reduce the number of bonfires being built in dangerous locations, increase awareness of firework safety to try and discourage their misuse and hopefully keep the area as safe as possible.

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 have re-commenced ASB visits in the most serious of cases 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.

Trading Standards Team

Trading Standards Officers continue to provide individually tailored advice and guidance to all non-food businesses on the new Covid regulations and Scottish Government guidance. Officers are also dealing with complaints regarding compliance with the legislation from both the public and businesses.

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 challenging in terms of supporting the sector to understand their obligations and not to provide services which entail removal of a customer's face mask. The Service has therefore written to all retailers within this sector and used social media, to assist retailers and customers to understand the requirements that are presently in place.

Other COVID-19 related work has included an increase in enquiries from businesses  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 and those who provide adult classes have also featured heavily.

There has been an increase in the workload in the areas of scam prevention, product safety, fair trading and metrology, along with firework enforcement inspections. This year there has been a downturn in the number of firework licences issued with a number of supermarkets deciding to no longer sell fireworks. Officers carried out fireworks enforcement inspections to all businesses premises selling fireworks.

Despite continuing uncertainty surrounding EU Exit officers have also been undertaking Brexit e-learning courses on consumer protection issues, including fair trading, e-commerce, product safety, animal health, and cross-border matters to assist in the preparation for the significant legislative changes that are expected in the area of consumer protection.

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, particularly home improvement complaints. The current situation presents additional challenges when mediating between businesses and consumers to satisfactorily resolve complaints.

Licensing Advisers are continuing to deal with routine licensing consultations, complaints and enquiries. In addition this work they have been assisting Environmental Health with hospitality inspections and are currently undertaking spot checks at on-sale licensed premises in relation to the sale of alcohol. 

Community Planning Team

The Team continues to respond to requests for community support for escalated or complex cases received through the National Assistance Line or as part of the isolation support through Test and Protect. 

The Community Grant Scheme closed on 30th October with a record 50 applications received.  Applications are currently being assessed and prepared with officer recommendations to be consideration by the Grant Advisory Committee.

Community development work and support continues remotely in all of our Place areas.  A Health Issues In the Community (HIIC) course is being developed as a digital pilot for residents in Hillhead and Harestanes as part of our work supporting recovery in Place areas.  The community development approach is being developed jointly by the Community Planning and Health Improvement Team. 

The first Community Asset Transfer (CAT) request, under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, has been validated recently and the team have convened a multi-officer steering group to consider the request.  The team are also coordinating support across services and the third sector to support the group to develop and strengthen their application. 

Roads and Environment

Roads Network Operations

The Carriageway Winter Maintenance period commenced on 15th October with the appropriate stand-by arrangements now operations to respond to weather and road conditions as required. The Footway Winter Maintenance period will commence on 12th November. Risk assessments and safe working practises have been amended to minimise social interaction and the risk of contamination.

The Roads lighting operational team now have amended working procedures and risk assessments which has allowed the team to return to standard operations, albeit with reduced resources. After review and amendment of operating procedures the team began the annual installation of Christmas Decorations on 16th October. As there are no formal switch on events allowed this year, the decorations will made live on phased approach beginning on the 26th November.

The Roads Network Team returned on a rota basis on 18th May to carry out essential road safety repairs where social distancing can be maintained. The team have also been carrying out the annual gully maintenance programme with all primary routes now completed. The team are progressing the secondary routes with Milngavie and Kirkintilloch routes also complete.

The team is continuing to weekend 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 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. Christmas Light installation works have commenced with installation progressing. 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 completed repairs at the junction of Gallowhill Road and Lenzie Road, Kirkintilloch. Improvement works continue on Strathblane Road and Crow Road Lennoxtown. A new Drainage Officer has been appointed and will join the team later this month.

Planning consultation for the River Glazert restoration is now live. The contract for site investigation is out to tender. Officers are working with the Scottish Flood Forum for sites that were affected by weather events in February and August.

At Golf View, Bearsden the flood prevention works were halted by Covid. During this time, some invasive grass species took hold on the site. This is to be stripped out by the contractor. The rented Heras fencing will come down this week, but permanent fencing will be installed and the site will remain closed off to residents until the contractor returns in the spring to complete the landscaping.

The Structures Team continue with Principal and General Inspection and to process abnormal load notifications. Works include:

  • Low bridge warning signs signing work started, chord markings have been replaced on Drumbreck Rail bridge, Kirkintilloch
  • Low bridge warning signs replaced on Waterside Rail bridge with amended heights.
  • Works completed on Allander Water training wall, Milngavie
  • Replacement of Burnside culvert, Bearsden completed
  • Works continuing on rebuilding/repointing Clober Road retaining wall Milngavie
  • Works continuing on repairs to Burncrooks Bridge, Cloberfield, Milngavie.

The Traffic Team is assessing the road safety calendar competition for schools. Assessing disabled parking places continues. The team continue to liaise with Police Scotland Traffic Management department on a regular basis. A number of traffic surveys have been carried out throughout EDC and are being assessed. This includes the surveys of school crossing patrol sites.

The team is continuing to respond to Legal Services on licensing applications and to the Planning Service on planning applications.

This is in addition to responding to customer complaints and queries, particularly dropped kerb applications, lining requests and speeding issues, and continuing with identifying and refurbishment of lining/signing on the road network.

The Development Team has been dealing with various temporary roadworks/temporary traffic management and temporary road closures associated with utility works and EDC works. Site inspections and site meetings continue with developers. The team continue to monitor coordination & performance. 

Various officers have taken part in workshop meetings about the proposed signalisation of Canniesburn Toll Roundabout, Bearsden.

Streetscene Operations

The final grass cycle is complete, it should be noted that some areas were too wet to undertake a final cut by ride-on mowers and therefore cut by pedestrian machines.  Squads are cutting tree screens, which is normally carried out once a year. Flower beds for the Spring display are being prepped and planted in the next week, and all war memorial beds will be planted before the weekend, in time for Remembrance Sunday.  The cutting of the Flood bankings in Kirkintilloch is to commence next week.

Teams continue to work at a reduced level on street cleansing, leaf clearance from footpaths and verges both in-house and by an external contractor, pitch maintenance and inspection, fly tipping removal and assisting in cemeteries as interments are at a higher than normal level and inspecting and clearing culvert grills.  Teams are ready to assist with removal of debris from unofficial bonfire sites.

Streetscene Technical Support

Kilmardinny House extension works in final stage of completion and electrical works carried being installed to highlight outside area.  The team is awaiting soil analysis results for Etive Park which will determine which elements of the project that will be taken forward. The team are working through the following projects - Matta Mat Play Park repair, path repair at Lenzie Moss, Glen, Twechar and Lennoxtown, refurbishment of wood carvings, mono-blocking of Meadowburn steps side,   Orders have been placed for 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 along with tree survey works and orders in various schools and open spaces.

Mugdock Country Park

The park remains a heavily used site for those wishing to access open space.

·               Countryside Rangers are working on removing Salmonberry in Mugdock Wood

·               Wardens are replacing the wooden fencing round the Play-park

·               Gift-shop stock has been rearranged for Christmas sales

The Discovery Trail launched in October has been very popular and is aimed at an older age group than the other trails.

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 6 November 2020

Education

There has been a significant increase in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 within schools and early years centres, particularly in secondary schools and older pupils in S4 to 6.  This pattern is reflected in national data.  It has resulted in large numbers of young people being required to self-isolate for 14 days, when they are identified as a contact for the person who is confirmed as positive.

When there is a positive case in a school, clear procedures have been implemented in a number of schools and early years’ centres.  The Head Teacher carries out a risk assessment, supported by the Chief Education Officer, and the Executive Officer, with responsibility for Environmental Health.  This is then sent to the Public Health Protection Unit who verify the information and letters are issued to parents. 

Where there are a cluster of cases within a school, a visit to the school is carried out by Health and Safety, Education and Environmental Health.  These visits have confirmed that the infection control measures, which are in place in schools, are robust.  In all cases, the increased infection rates within the community have impacted on schools.  There is no evidence of transmission within schools. 

When a pupil is required to self-isolate home learning is provided.  This can be using digital learning and if a child does not have access to a digital device at home, this is provided.  The impact of this learning loss will continue to be evaluated.

Attainment visits to all secondary schools are taking place using remote access.  It includes a discussion on how schools are addressing learning loss and taking forward digital learning.  There is also a discussion on the support required due to the changes to the arrangements for the National Qualifications.

Updated Guidance has been issued by Scottish Government: Reducing Risks to Schools due to COVID-19.  Additional measures have now been implemented in schools and centres. These include the increased wearing of face coverings by staff and in classrooms within S4 to 6.  This is proving challenging for young people in S4 to 6, who are now required to wear a face covering all day while in school.

A hot meal option has been introduced in all schools and early years’ centres.  This is being managed effectively in schools but it remains challenging for schools to ensure that class groups are kept physically distant when there are increased number of pupils in dining rooms.  This is important as it minimises the impact if there is a positive case within a school.

All schools and early years centres are continuing to deliver high quality learning and teaching to children through these challenging times.

Organisational Transformation

Procurement Team

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. Renewal and award of various contracts continue with various ICT requirements being progressed at this time.

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 continue to be processed via the Procurement Support team supporting achievement of Government payment commitments.

The team continues to support the payment processes for Social Isolation payments for food support.

Health & Safety & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The Senior Health & Safety Adviser continues to reinforce and develop COVID-19 guidance, risk assessments and procedures to support Education across all levels. The changes introduced through the Strategic Framework tiered approach and subsequent updated Schools’ guidance has been reviewed and updated information has been issued from a H&S perspective and the impact into each level of Education. Specific Ventilation and Face coverings protocols have also been prepared. Design and Technology risk assessments are now in place.

The support also includes school visits to review risk assessments arrangements and enhancing where necessary controls where there has been positive cases.

The Health & Safety Team is continuing to deliver COVID-19 training and H&S Toolbox Talks to Roads operatives in advance of starting their Winter Maintenance Program and is still working closely with the Roads’ Team to update all risk assessments for the service. The Property Maintenance Team is also being supported by the H&S Team to create new risk assessments and update earlier versions.

COVID-19 Risk assessments updates for several key areas such as the ERC, Registration Services and Marriage and Civil Partnership Ceremonies have been carried out to introduce Scottish Government’s face coverings and facemasks guidance. The team has supported a number of priority areas including EDLC Children’s Art classes and Active Schools.

The Senior Health & Safety Adviser continues to support services selecting suitable associated PPE and COVID-19 mitigating equipment aligned to Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance. 

The Fire Safety Team is in the process of reviewing other areas of priority for Fire Safety Risk Assessments under PAS 79 form.

Social Work Commissioning Team

The P&D team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations – essentially to ensure that during the pandemic and thereafter, services are safe, remain open and are sustainable in the longer term.  

P&D has an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Care Home Oversight Group – which involves compliance, monitoring, compiling daily reports to help inform local and national requirements.  The team continues to liaise regularly with the Care Inspectorate regarding inspections, feedback sessions and establishing joint action plans to help support and monitor service improvement. 

P&D is currently working with providers to resume building based day care services - where it is safe to do so and in line with national guidance.  The process involves reshaping and financially re-structuring service delivery models to accommodate and balance individual needs, risks, Care Inspectorate registration requirements, Public Health and legal obligations

The P&D team co-ordinate and progress Social Care Sustainability Payments. Providers are able to submit additional payment claims relating to infection control, PPE and staffing costs, whilst Care Home occupancy payments will be tapered from September to November.  A Governance Panel to consider the latest claims will meet late November/early December – with approved claims captured within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan. 

In line with national requirements, P&D continues to support the HSCP and providers to transition from Planned to Actual payments, however, following increasing pressure from the sector, the Scottish Government is reviewing its agreed approach – an update is expected within the next couple of weeks. Engagement continues with providers and other Local Authorities to understand the challenges and strategies 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 and support continues with priority focus within HSCP.  Detailed scrutiny of the absence performance across all services continues with engagement taking place to understand required support and actions for improvement. Wellbeing information extended on the Employee Zone to reflect current campaigns for healthy working lives. Updates are being made on a regular basis.

The team continues to receive calls on COVID reporting for various circumstances.  The implementation of a 7 day cover rota reflects the required response from the team to take action at the earliest point.   Advice and guidance to employees and managers on COVID related issues and absences continue to be supported by the HR & OD teams.

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.

Business & Digital Change Team

Final preparations are underway to deploy over 1400 devices (chromebooks, ipads) and 300 wifi devices to pupils across East Dunbartonshire to participate in digital learning.  The devices have been funded by East Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Government in a commitment to address digital exclusion amongst disadvantaged children and young people as part of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Hot meals have now been re-introduced in all schools. The team are currently developing an interim payment solution enabling parents/carers to pay online for school meals in non cashless catering schools. The interim payment solution will not impact children who receive free school meals.  Further updates will available over the coming week. 

Business Systems continue to support ongoing transformational priorities including Smart Working 2020.

Legal and Democratic Services

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 still progressing on the recovery phase, lessons learned and in support of Test and Protect, however the changing circumstances are such that response activity is increasing.  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 both locally and 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 assistance for those isolating due to Test and Protect and more generally in response to current restrictions and other impacts of the increasing infection rates.  Further,  officers are working up alternative rest centre plans which are COVID compliant eg which accommodate physical distancing and dedicated rooms for those isolating and/or shielding.

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.

Wedding and Civil Partnership ceremonies continue to take place at 21 Southbank Road for now.  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 continuously under review in light of changing restrictions and will be reassessed following publication of the “Tiered” approach to managing local infection rates. 

During October 154 Births and 157 deaths were registered, and 27 marriages were registered by Registration Services. 

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. 

On top of the above, there are other emerging civil contingency concerns in relation to which the Team is participating in various local and regional awareness and planning meetings. 

Correspondence around EU Exit Planning continues to increase and this is now emerging as yet another emerging risk, requiring the attention of the Council as regional, and national agencies (WoSRRP & CoSLA) continue to ingather information and activate existing regional planning groups.  Work to prepare for a no deal EU Exit is taking up more officer time and regular multi service meetings have commenced to work through the detail.

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 layout 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 on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making.  The team is preparing for the impending cycle of virtual Committee meetings taking place up to the Christmas holidays.  A proposed cycle for January to June 2021 is being drafted for consideration at Council and a 2021/2022 calendar is also in initial stages of preparation.

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 mid term-appeals will be arranged for late October / early November.

Throughout the pandemic, the Team has continued to support the Children’s Panel Hearings process and continues to work with the Area Support Team (AST), Learning & Development Committee, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland via remote video meetings. Following the retiral of Allan Geekie after 7 years service, East Dunbartonshire has a new Chair of the AST – Ying Zhang, who was appointed by Children’s Hearings Scotland on 3 September 2020.  The annual Panel Member recruitment process that, normally takes place between August to October, has been continued into January to February 2021.  The Team will administer/support this process as with previous years.

Information Management

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 and the recently approved Committee cycle. 

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.

Legal Services

Many of the Legal Services team’s resources continue to be dedicated to assisting Major Assets in 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 guiding 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 contractors in order to ensure that the Council is protected but also that the best commercial terms are reached and the projects remain affordable.  Given the uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s EU exit and the longer term impact of COVID-19, this has proven particularly difficult in recent weeks.

Further resource continues to be dedicated to interpreting, assessing and, where necessary, optimising or protecting the Council from the impact of the pandemic and the EU exit 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 appropriately used.  This also involves the drafting and documentation of contracts with suppliers of goods, works and services to the Council and the contractual clauses on the risk to the delivery of contracts caused by Covid-19 and the EU exit have to be tailored to fit the individual nature and circumstances of each contract.

The team is also playing a key role in the project team appointed to deliver a new Integrated Housing Management System for the Housing Service.  The market for such systems is such that procurement of this project is complex and requires a high degree of legal project management and support.  Coupled with this is the drafting and negotiation of bespoke IT terms and conditions to ensure that the system delivers as promised.

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 has restarted with some “in person” hearings having now taken place, including in relation to education , housing and social work matters.  This week saw the start of a housing proof in the Sheriff Court with some potentially far-reaching implications for the Council and residents of the area.  In addition, video hearings are continuing for matters which make this possible, including in relation to some 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, virtual meetings of the Planning Local Review Body, the Licensing Boards and the Civic Government Appeals Board are now taking place regularly again with further dates now scheduled to the end of the calendar year.  Applicants and their representatives will continue to join virtually, where appropriate, and the meetings, where appropriate, will be streamed live on YouTube. 

The team continues to provide close support to colleagues in social work in respect of sensitive and important matters involving children, families and vulnerable adults some of which are particularly pressing at the current time.  The number of referrals and matters requiring legal support has significantly increased over lockdown and is requiring increased support from the Litigation & Licensing Team.  In addition, the Service has supported social work colleagues in collating and assessing 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 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. The team is also representing the Council’s interests in respect of various employment issues, including disputes that have made their way to tribunal.

Customer and Business Support Services

Shared Services:

The Transport team continue to support both Social Work and Education in the provision of transport across the area.  The work is challenging, as arrangements continue to be impacted due to COVID positive tests and self isolation cases on service users, drivers and providers.  The team continue to support a range of business as usual services including Direct Payment audits; administration of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA); maintenance of Social Work care packages and payments to a range of suppliers.  The School Support coordinators are supporting the school estates in the school fund audit process.

The General Team continue to support the National Helpline, providing support to shielding and vulnerable people during the crisis.  The Scottish Government are offering shielders four months of Vitamin D, 71 people have asked the team to register them for the supplement.   In addition to receiving incoming calls, the team are making outgoing calls to offer support to those individuals who are required to self isolate by the National Contact Tracing Centre (NCTC).  We have received 575 unique individuals to contact and have made contact with over 90% of them within their isolation period which has resulted in 39 requests for help.  The Education support team are contacting parents of children who are entitled to free school meals and self isolating to arrange payment of £4 per day while the pupils are away from school.  The Social Work team are dealing with increased call volumes for Homecare referrals and administering the high volume of virtual meetings for the various conferences the service require.

Revenues and Benefits:

The Revenues and Benefits team are coping with unprecedented demand across all the services we deliver.  The Scottish Welfare Fund is dealing with high levels of Crisis Grants and is also administering the ‘Self-Isolation Support Grant’ on behalf of the Scottish Government.  The number of claims is much lower than we anticipated prior to launch.  We have received thirty nine applications, with only seven successful due to the strict criteria of the grant.  The Benefits team are processing more applications than normal, particularly for Council Tax Reduction, and we have also commenced the Housing Benefit Accuracy Awards programme which began on 12 October 2020. This review programme will see our Housing Benefit claims reviewed monthly to ensure our assessments are based on information that is current and accurate, with the aim of reducing the level of Housing Benefit overpayments and fraud.

The Non Domestic rates team are processing the final stages of the Small Business Bonus Review. Initially we saw lower than anticipated returns so we adapted and included an additional reminder to the non-returns to try to avoid addition stress on the businesses involved. The team will process non-returns over the next two weeks which will end a number of small business bonus awards. The team are also preparing the first rates recovery notices.   

The Recovery team have been working with one of our sheriff courts to support their move to electronic processing of council tax summary warrants. This has resulted in a slight delay due to significant process changes.  The changes should be complete within the next 7 days and we will issue around 4,500 summary warrant letters and are ready to deal with the response to these.

ICT

The Team are continuing to provide support within the agreed SLA to Corporate and Education estates including the provision of security patching and hardware swaps.  The team are supporting the Business and Change Team in the roll out of the new CM2000 app for the Homecare Team.  A large focus of the team is on our Education estate as we support the provision of 1200 devices for pupils.  The Infrastructure team, in conjunction with our suppliers, have activated web filtering on the devices and we are now undertaking the final preparatory work to allow the devices to be issued.  The same team have also been supporting the Cashless Catering project by coordinating the provision of new network points in kitchens and building new PCs to host the software in the schools.  We also continue to provide support for the major assets projects at Southbank, new Boclair, Killermont extension and the 3 new Early Years 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 in response to Covid-19 management. Data continues to be recorded for local performance indicators and performance reporting for statutory returns.  Quality assurance work and data cleansing also continues across the data systems used for reporting returns to ensure accurate data is recorded ensure confidence in data returns.  The team has been engaging with National records Scotland in relation to census planning – the next census has been moved from March 2021 to March 2022 as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on the planning process.    Feedback was provided in October for the LGBF Board ahead of the next LGBF data collection exercise. Significant work was undertaken in October to prepare and submit the social care SOURCE return across service areas, meeting nationally agreed timescales for the 30 October deadline.  Work also continues in relation to insurance in line with annual insurance timescales, including responding to insurance enquiries and liaising with our insurers and claims handlers in relation to claims and claim outcomes.  The team has been supporting services with data and research for reporting and policies and in the preparation of FOI responses.  Work has also been progressing with the GIS team in the development of interactive mapping for the area.

Communications

Communications support continues to be provided to all Council services and to the HSCP and EDLC Trust, 23/7 where required, including out of hours and emergency/contingency communications.

The Communications Team continues to respond to the key messaging required in relation to Covid-19, sharing key communications from Scottish Government, NHS and stakeholders in relation to the latest Covid-19 messages and guidance with East Dunbartonshire audiences.  Regular internal communications are also being delivered including signage for buildings and facilities that are open, guidance published to the Employee Zone of the website and Employee News for the workforce on the latest guidance and reminders. Over the past fortnight communications support has been provided for Education in relation to messaging for parents/carers about ensuring children with Covid-19 symptoms or children identified as close contacts do not attend school and isolate as required by the guidance, and FAQs in relation to free school meal payments for those isolating:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/council-democracy/covid-19-school-update

Regular Covid-19 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 and initiatives. 

The communications team continues to support the live streaming of public meetings, working closely with Democratic Services and ICT Services to stream meetings through the Council’s you tube channel, with support scheduled for the upcoming meetings and boards in November.

The team is also supporting consultation activity across services, creating consultation webpages and promoting through media and social media.  Current consultations include LDP2, Covid-19 economic impact survey and the Glazert Water restoration project:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/Consultations---Active

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 17,191 Facebook followers and the three posts with the highest reach were the post regarding the letter to parents on isolation of children from school (23.1k reach, 305 interactions); the announcement that green waste collections would reconvene for a final collection (17.3k reach, 149 interactions) and the recruitment advert for early years housekeepers (15.1k reach, 419 interactions).  Twitter has 18,458 followers and the three most significant posts this fortnight have been the letter to parents/carers with guidance on children isolating from school 48.2k reach, 243 interactions, three council buildings to light red for remembrance (36.5k reach, 54 interactions and the City Region forestry and woodland strategy consultation (29.2k reach, 56 interactions).

The team continue to provide information to and respond to enquiries from national and local broadcast and print media.  And to proactively issue media releases on latest developments/initiatives.  From 23 October to 5 November a total of 14 media enquiries have been responded to and a further 9 media releases issued, including:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/remembrance-sunday-no-other

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/garden-waste-services-reinstated-early

Customer Services

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 at Bearsden Community Hub continues to work effectively for the checking of original documents and issuing of plates/licences. 

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 conducting birth registrations, now being undertaken in real time with the backlog having been addressed.  An appointment based system is also in place for the registration of marriage paperwork and ceremonies are being delivered at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been risk assessed and appropriately signed for this service.  All other registration appointments take place in Kirkintilloch Community Hub and are conducted in line with current guidance. 

The successful recruitment campaign for Customer Service Agents will see successful candidates begin training on Monday for customer service delivery across all channels through an adapted remote approach to training using available technologies.

Finance and Audit

Ongoing work within the Finance teams continues. Significantly this is specified to support the Council, HSCP and the Trust in their Covid response as well as the routine cycle of business.  The Council’s Chief Finance Officer continues to work through COSLA and alongside other Directors of Finance to represent the best interests for local government as the year progresses and consideration moves to the establishment of the Council’s budget for 2021/22 and beyond.  This includes membership and support of the CIPFA Directors of Finance Executive, Local Government Benchmarking, the Settlement and Distribution Group and supporting the development of papers for COSLA Leaders.

Work within teams are back to a level of normality, working remotely to support the Council’s ongoing Covid response as well as business as usual activities.  Finance Teams continue to provide support in a number of areas such as recent announcements on grants for people required to self isolate, business grants, supplier payments within social work and other emerging initiatives.  In addition, the team has delivered a number of statutory notifications, CoSLA returns, consulted on distribution methodologies, worked on supplier sustainability in a number of key areas, provided analysis within funding streams and consulted on VAT changes. The teams have also supported the development of new and revised processes for early years financial reporting, developed enhanced monitoring for lost income, supported financial governance within procurement, revised audit requirements, reviewed the financial implications of new proposed legislation, refreshed COVID cost capture & reporting, consistency checking, treasury management and cash flow.  These work streams continue alongside existing planned arrangements.

Technical Accounting

The Team continue to work with Audit Scotland to complete the audit of the Council's accounts; this is nearing at a close with Council agreement that this will be presented for consideration on the 19 November. The team are also finalising completion of the Whole of Government Accounts for HM Treasury and Grant Aided Expenditure returns for the Scottish Government which will determine future funding.  The team continues to work on maintaining and improving the Council's financial systems and controls. Working with Business Change the team supported the Council to go live with the Paye.net income system to improve the collection of income online and over the phone and actioned the price increases for fees and charges.

Revenue Team

The team continue to support the development of expenditure expectations in relation to Covid and tracking the various income streams to establish whether this funding is additional to support the anticipated financial gap or in the form of a grant to offset new, additional and required expenditure.  Having reported on Period 3 at the start of October next steps are to concentrate on Period 6 and the now approved Policy and Resources Committee on the 26 November.  Work is ongoing to develop previous reports to provide clarity of the Council’s overall financial position despite the challenging circumstances.  In addition the team is starting to compile initial expectations and documentation in relation to the 2021/22 budget with benchmarking information being collated between all 32 Councils as well as through external economic advice.  This is being applied within the Council’s financial model to provide initial expectations of future financial gaps albeit this remains at a very high level.

Treasury, Capital & Housing

The capital & housing team have now finalised a significant number of  audit queries as part of the finalisation of the Annual Accounts with these requests now being largely complete.  The treasury team continue to monitor cash flow closely due to the increased financial transactions due to Covid ensuring that there is liquidity for all Council activities.  The capital & housing team are currently working on period 5 and 6 capital / housing capital reports for committee in November 2020.  Formal meetings with the Council’s Treasury Management advisors, Link, have been initiated and this will inform future strategy linked to the Capital Planning.

Internal Audit and Fraud

Internal Audit, whilst continuing to provide some support over new processes such as the Transitional Support Fund, are moving to a recovery phase and starting on audits that have been planned pre-covid. The team has also started to follow up on outstanding audit actions from previous years where this is possible and recognising the pressures across Council services. Audits that have recently commenced include Health and Safety and the Highways Code and the team is also seeking to finalise audits that were commenced pre covid such as Road Works Consultancy, ICT Contract Management and HSCP Financial Planning. The Corporate Fraud Team continue to investigate various reports of fraud and undertake vetting on all applications received for licences, housing, and school places. Corporate Fraud is also liaising with the relevant services and undertaking preparatory work in respect of submission of data for the forthcoming National Fraud Initiative data matching exercise. 

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 6 November 2020

HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning

All departmental and overarching Business Continuity Plans have been updated during September as part of surge planning.  This is to ensure that lessons learned during the first active phase of Covid-19 during March to July 2020 can enhance service response to the current resurgence in community transmission and the challenges of winter.  A Covid-19 annex to the HSCP Business Continuity Plan provides more detailed information on essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements, arrangements to support and sustain commissioned services, arrangement for sustaining staff capacity and communications.  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.

In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, an HSCP Transition and Recovery Plan has also been developed, with a focus on service remobilisation wherever safe and possible to do so.  This will be updated iteratively in line with Scotland’s Strategic Framework and the development of more detailed guidance.

The annual Flu Vaccination programme continues to roll out, which this year is available to approximately double the number of people in the community than usual due to a lowering of the age range (c.22000 people).  This has been logistically challenging for the Partnership, but feedback has been highly positive with 94.4% of people attending for vaccine reporting that they were extremely satisfied with the care they received.

Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it. 

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

Public protection work, which includes child and adult protection, drug and alcohol services, and a range of justice services, continues to be prioritised.  It has been observed that protection referrals have returned to pre Covid rates and in some cases are now in excess of this. 

The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) continues its 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.  This ensures management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection.  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 Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. 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. 

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.  During the first wave, a number of services were 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.  National guidance has been provided in relation to day services and respite services.  A Greater Glasgow-wide strategic approach has now been established to ensure consistency and best practice for the delivery of day services, in line with this national guidance.  Significant responsibility regarding the remobilisation of both purchased and directly provided services rests with local risk-based decision-making.   Alternative services have been provided where needed, 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.  Adult physical disability and older people social work services have moved to a locality-based delivery approach from November, which should further improve links with primary health care and general practice.

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.

Direct Services

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 albeit plans are underway to resume scaled back service delivery following conclusion of risk assessment and negotiation processes.  The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis.  The remobilisation of services that are currently suspended for safety reasons will be taken forward in line with the guidance and approaches set out above, with alternative support being provided in the interim, in line with assessed needs.

A pan NHSGGC group on day services has been convened, led by the ED Interim CO, and has produced a document setting out the shared and collective approach to day services over the winter period. This will be provided to Members via a Technical Note.

Testing for Social Care Staff

There is access to testing for all social care staff who are symptomatic.  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.  There has been some variability in turn around times for laboratory results which has impacted on our ability to respond. The Scottish Government is looking to extend lab capacity on a regional basis to support this. 

Support to Care Homes

A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP is routinely provided 5 days a week and over the weekend where this is 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 hopefully conclude shortly.  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 recently by the Care Inspectorate and is subject to Enforcement Action by way of an Improvement Notice.  The home has 4 November to deliver on the highest priority requirements.  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 small number of homes within the area have recently experienced covid outbreaks and we are working to support them to respond to this, with support from Public Health.

A national report assessing the impact of transfers of people to care homes on covid 19 outbreaks was published last week and contained data for the local area. One of the most significant findings of the report was that the larger the home, the greater the outbreak risk.

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.