Service Update - Friday 11 September

PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 11 September 2020

Assets and Facilities

Facilities Management

The FM Service continues to provide on-going support to the re-opened education estate through additional day cleaning provision, enhanced checking and an escalation process.  A second round of recruitment has concluded and further offers issued to successful candidates.  A further recruitment campaign is now underway to recruit candidates for the remaining positions and this will continue as an ongoing rolling recruitment process.

Catering services within our education estate continue to operate a grab and go service across all schools, providing soup and sandwiches whilst we work within ongoing social distancing measures.

Property Maintenance

Gas Safety Inspections continue to progress in Housing properties where access can be taken safely and the emergency repairs service continues to be provided. Works to temporary homeless voids remain ongoing with the delivery of mainstream voids, capital works and non-emergency repairs to recommence shortly.  The service also continues to undertake a number of property repairs to the education estate.

Officers are working with colleagues in the Business & Digital Change Team to improve performance reporting.  Asbestos management survey data across the non-housing estate is in the process of being refreshed. A new smoke and heat detector installation programme throughout the housing estate has commenced to ensure compliance with new Government regulations, which come into force from February 2021.

Assets & Estates

Construction remains on-going at Southbank House, KHCC and Early Years projects in Kirkintilloch, Milngavie and Bearsden.  Mavis Valley Waste Transfer and Recycling Centre (Phase 1) achieved practical completion on 7th September and will shortly be occupied by Viridor to deliver the waste management contract.  Pre-construction activity remains in progress for Boclair Academy, Allander Leisure & Adult Day Centre and Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex.

Design works for replacement pitches at Torrance and Hillhead PS are now underway.

Officers in Estates Management continue to assess all maintenance contracts and instruct works to ensure all service inspections are up to date and are leading the coordination of repair requests across the school estate.  A new repairs reporting process has been introduced for the school estate and will be introduced for the remainder of the estate as and when it re-opens.  The team also continues to coordinate any building-related checks required for the re-opening of the wider estate.

Housing

Homelessness

The Homelessness & Prevention Team continue to work from home with advice/assistance including the provision of housing support being delivered via the telephone.

Following the recommencement of tenancy sign ups, the Homelessness & Prevention Team is working alongside the Estates Team and key partners to provide support to the homeless households moving into their new settled tenancies in the next few weeks.

As at 8 September 2020, 200 households were in temporary accommodation (none of which are in bed & breakfast) with support being maintained and options being developed for longer-term housing solutions.  All supported accommodation is full at this time.

The out of hours service continues to be in place ensuring homelessness provision is available as per current legislation; 24 hours a day. 

Rents

The Rents Team is now issuing arrears balance letters to tenants, alerting them to the fact they have rent arrears and how much they are, as well as continuing to telephone or email tenants. These letters are starting to impact with calls from some tenants who have not responded previously, to discuss affordable and realistic agreements. There are however still tenants not paying and/or engaging and the service will reintroduce issuing 1st and 2nd reminder letters to these tenants.

There are no current court actions for rent arrears taking place, as Housing Organisations cannot carry out any evictions until at least March 2021 as stipulated by Scottish Government.  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 through ensuring that income is maximised, where possible.

Current rent arrears are £1,221,038 (week 22); this is an increase of £126,731 against same week last year.

Tenant Participation

The Tenants Taking Part newsletter has now been delivered to all tenants, this is very much a Covid related newsletter and has some excellent information from services throughout the Council. The TPWG is restarting, online through Microsoft Teams – the next one is scheduled for Thursday 17th September at 2pm with the agenda recently issued.

Estates

Vulnerable contacts - now working with Care 4 People. Housing has had no referrals so far, with new service starting from 3rd August.

Voids and sign ups - Housing Officers are working hard on signing up as many applicants as possible: 23 new builds now signed up at:

  • Armour Drive, Kirkintilloch; David Grey Drive, Kirkintilloch; Bencloich Place, Lennoxtown & Katrine Court, Bearsden (5 houses)

In addition, by the end of September – a further 22 flats are due to be signed up at Katrine Court, Bearsden.

7 mainstream voids were also signed up (properties that were ready to relet just before lockdown).  Awaiting confirmation of void work restarting to allow further sign ups to take place.  In light of the Covid pandemic Housing statistics will include a column to show the time lapse due to Covid.  This is now being worked on for the void relet stat as well as the void rent loss stats, which will be poor for 2020. 

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 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.

Housing Development and Capital

Sites restarted after lockdown has resulted in handover of Phase One and Kilmardinny (Stage One) which is nearing completion. TJ House has now commenced as of last week.

Phase Three is approaching contract award – subject to final agreement over Covid-19 wording.

In terms of capital programmes, the MR Render has now started in Waterside and Twechar and HEEPS is now in the snagging phase. Risk Assessments are being assessed for Solar Thermal and Electrical Rewires, which will be difficult to progress but consideration is being given to a more limited restart. For Rewires, work will recommence on voids to begin with. Windows and Doors contracts are recommencing with a concentration upon a backlog of manufactured windows first.

Two shared equity re-purchases are being progressed while five open market purchase enquiries are being considered.

New HEEPS 20/21 and Mixed Tenure work are awaiting Command and Control approval in order to progress to an award.

Land and Planning

Planning Applications and Building Standards

The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible.  PPE is available and site visits are now taking place for planning and enforcement officers in accordance with the relevant risk assessments.

Close working with colleagues in licensing continues in order to manage the large increase in outdoor seating areas in a timely and proportionate manner.

The team are currently working on finalising reports for the forthcoming Planning Board meeting due to take place on the 29th September.  We are not yet in a position to safely provide site visits.  Therefore, officers have put arrangements in place for Enhanced Briefing Sessions for each agenda item, to take place in advance of Planning Board.  This has been scheduled for the 24th September and meeting invites to Members have been issued. 

Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible.  PPE is available and site visits are now taking place for those properties and sites where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate.  All in accordance with the relevant risk assessments.  We have had a considerable amount of enquiries regarding site starts, ongoing works and Completion Certificate Submissions. For works on site which are ongoing we are continuing to encourage the submission of photographs  and any other alternative methods as a means to verifying compliance as works proceed. 

Weekly updates continue to be provided to the Scottish Government Building Standards Division to help monitor performance of Building Standards at a national level.

Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS

The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council.  Officers are therefore now organising in detail the consultation on the Proposed LDP2 to take place from October 2020 to January 2021.  A useful meeting was held following August Council with community councils and groups to discuss the details of the consultation arrangements. A technical note will be issued with full details once available and in advance of the representation period starting.

The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan will be reported to Council on 1 October 2020, subject to agenda.  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, subject to Council approval.

The Council’s Food Growing Strategy has been finalised following completion of consultation on the draft version.   The finalised Strategy sets out proposals for new allotment sites at Craigfoot Field, Milton of Campsie; and Ashburn Gardens, Milngavie.   A site for community food growing as part of the Climate Ready Park proposals, at Etive Park in Bishopbriggs, is also included.  The Strategy will be reported to Council on October 1st for approval, subject to agenda. 

Work is progressing well on the Scottish Government funded Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Pilot Project, and potential interventions to reduce carbon emissions from housing and non-domestic properties will be identified over the coming weeks.  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 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 has continued to support major strategies and projects throughout the council as well as liaising with third parties to investigate ways in which to improve performance and workflows.  The past fortnight the team's focus has been on working alongside the Policy team to identify and analyse the latest data for the Local Development Plan 2 and continue with the design phase of the brief.  The team has also been working alongside our Roads and Environment Service, SEPA and Ordnance Survey in collating the latest and most accurate data.  The team has also been supporting the Planning and Building Standards teams in developing statutory reports written in SQL to be submitted to the Scottish Government.  The naming of the former Tom Johnston site has been completed, with the name "Tom Johnston Place" chosen by the local elected members.  The former St Agatha's Primary School site is currently under deliberation with the elected members for the area.  The team has also begun discussions with various teams in the council on how best to utilise data collected during the shielding process and how this could mitigate the impact of any second wave of Coronavirus. 

City Deal

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 our developing City Deal project. However, work on the business case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

Regeneration & Town Centres

The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19. Project activity and progression 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.

Officers are continuing to provide support for community partners to deliver initiatives funded by the Scottish Towns Partnership (STP) resilience fund. Bespoke “Love Local” promotional campaigns have been developed for Bearsden and Bishopbriggs along with digital marketing advice for businesses. Lennoxtown CC, Lenzie CC and the Kirkintilloch BID Steering Group secured funding to purchase PPE, hand sanitiser, social distancing messaging and digital marketing support for businesses. Milngavie BID secured funding independently and continue to provide support for the town centre. As a BID, they will also be eligible to apply for another round of resilience funding this month. Officers are providing ongoing support for the BID to deliver their initiatives as and when required.

Business Support

All grant streams closed on 3 July 2020 and reporting for Scottish Government has been finalised for Newly Self Employed and Bed and Breakfast.  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 is still to confirm final reporting date for the business grants.

Following this substantial work will be required to provide information to both Scottish Government and Audit Scotland for a National Fraud initiative.

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.

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 with Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders being finalised, social distancing prompts on footways and promotional initiatives.

Neighbourhood Service

Waste Services

Household Collection

In line with previous updates, waste collections are operating normally for residents whilst social distancing restrictions continue to apply in vehicles. Tonnage from household waste collections is continuing to fall however still tracking above pre Covid levels.

Recycling Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents. Tonnage for recycling collected from the kerbside continues to be higher than normal for the time of year.

Food Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents.

Green Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents.

Bulky Collections / Bin Deliveries

The service has recommenced deliveries for replacement bins recently and is currently working through a list of outstanding requests. Resources continue to prove challenging however planning is ongoing for recommencement of bulky collections in the near future. 

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

The site continues to operate on reduced opening hours, the internal Roads team continue to manage traffic at the entrance to the facility afternoons / weekends. The site remains busy however, the unprecedented demand is starting to reduce with peak demands continuing at weekends.

Completion of the Mavis Valley Transfer Station

The construction of for the Councils Transfer Station at Mavis Valley has been completed and signed off this week. Work is now ongoing with Clyde Valley for the transfer of the Waste Management licence and operational control of the site to Viridor, for commissioning of the new facility under the 25-year residual waste treatment contract now in operation.   

Fleet Services

Fleet Maintenance

The fleet workshops continue to work through essential maintenance and MOT testing of the operational fleet in addition to reintroduction of vehicles for housing maintenance, day services for HSCP and repairs to plant assets for the Roads and Greenspace service. Fleet staff continue to work from home where possible and attend depots where required to accept deliveries, support the workshop activities and deal with legislative administration functions where deemed essential. The service has now successfully recruited two mechanics in order to fill gaps in the service.

Prep for Winter

Fleet Management will shortly be focusing on preparation of the carriageway and footway gritting fleet, including calibrations for the start of gritting season. All trucks, gritting units, tractors and ploughs will be inspected and repaired as necessary in readiness for the start of winter. The service will also mobilise the Winter Gritting Call out service for commencement in mid-October.

Transport Activities

The Internal Transport team continues to deliver ASN school transport on behalf of Education, with the return to school in August. The service is operating well at this time taking account of revised working practices through the Councils Covid response. The service is also working with colleagues in HSCP to review options for the reintroduction of day services at other centres and will continue to support this process for reintroduction of additional Transport activities.

Grant Funding

The Council has recently secured 176k of funding from Transport Scotland for Zero Emission vehicles and charging Infrastructure. The Fleet service is now working with officers in Legal and Procurement in order to facilitate the purchase and installation of the assets.  

Fleet Replacements

Officers continue to work through the Councils fleet replacement programme with the recent replacement of vehicles and plant for a range of Council services.

Place and Community Planning

Environmental Health & Trading Standards Teams

Environmental Health are leading the public health response across the local authority in the case and outbreak management of COVID, working closely with partners at GGC NHS Bd, Public Health Protection Unit.

Test and Protect issues that have arisen in our communities and within our businesses are being investigated by our officers both remotely and also by site visits to premises, to ensure compliance including physical distancing, hygiene, and all of the detail provided in the legislation and appropriate sector guidance.  We have a reactive system in place to respond to complaints, and a proactive planned inspection programme for our higher risk premises, including the hospitality sector.

An Environmental Health Officer is also deployed within the GGC Test and Protect contact tracing team as a lead and mentor. Additionally, the team are supporting Education colleagues with assessing and contact tracing all cases recently confirmed in young people within our schools.

Both Teams are enforcing the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 as well as providing individually tailored  advice and guidance to our business community on both the legislation and Scottish Government guidance, both of which continue to evolve adapting to the latest public health advice.

Trading Standards are busy advising and investigating complaints relating to "under the mask" treatments in the beauty and hairdressing sectors which is a currently an area of concern. One of our Trading Standards Officers is now part of the Scottish EH & TS COVID Expert Officers Group which deals with national sector wide COVID enquiries, legislative enquiries and the development of guidance, working closely with the Scottish Government.

Trading Standards has experienced an anticipated increase in demand since the reopening of most business premises, relating to consumer issues, doorstep crime and financial scams. There have been some particularly harrowing examples of scams in the last week involving vulnerable residents and very substantial sums of money. The team continue to work closely with Social Work and Police Scotland in relation to these crimes.

Environmental Health Officers are also dealing with the backlog in environmental protection matters from during lockdown including environmental noise, air quality and statutory nuisance matters.

Licensing Advisers are continuing to provide advice, guidance and support to local businesses on licensing matters through easing of lockdown and supporting these businesses through economic recovery.

Community Safety

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 to help us tackle this increasing issue.  As part of the investigation of fly-tipping complaints, vehicle keeper enquiries are routinely made by the team to NAFN. A recent remote audit of system usage for these purposes by the DVLA resulted in a positive rating being given with no compliance issues. 

Control of Dog offences continue to be investigated and an emergency pest control service has been delivered for residents throughout lockdown. Permanent Bait services for pest control are now also recommencing in order to support EDLCT and other Council services as they start to reopen certain buildings or facilities within their remit after lockdown. 

Community Wardens commenced advisory patrols for DPE across town centre areas on 3 August and at the newly re-opened schools as from 12 August.  On-street enforcement for parking offences commenced week beginning 17 August.  Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks commences from Monday 14 September 2020. The car park at Kenmure, Bishopbriggs will also become a chargeable car park at this time.  There are also plans to recommence some patrol work in relation to environmental incivilities as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in the coming weeks.   

The team are also still providing a remote service in terms of neighbour complaints/disputes providing advice by phone, email and liaising with colleagues in other services including Housing, Social Work and Police Scotland.  As part of this, we have also re-commenced a number of ASB visits in order to try to tackle the significant increase in the number of complaints that have been received throughout this period.  

A number of mobile CCTV have been deployed across the Council to try to 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.

Community Planning & Partnerships

The CPP Team led on food insecurity throughout the pandemic and this continues to be a priority for the team.   The national assistance line is still in operation and requests for support continue to be escalated to the CPP Team for response and/or action.

Our COVID response was a partnership approach between EDVA and EDC in providing support to those most vulnerable in our communities.  Support for those with the ability to pay was led and coordinated by EDVA while those deemed vulnerable and/or facing financial hardship were supported by the Council through a weekly free food box delivery. 

The link between council services and the third sector has been strengthened through our response and the CPP team and EDVA continue to work closely together to build on the community response, which arose in response to the pandemic.  Link work with the food bank and other essential advice services such as CAB, OPAL, etc., is ongoing to ensure continued access to ‘wrap-around’ support for those most in need in our communities.  The CPP Team was also the link between the hand-over of the council Social Isolation and Loneliness Calls to the Befriending Service.

Individuals from across the authority with lived experience of poverty and/or inequality were invited to participate in a recent Community Listening Event facilitated by the CPP Team.  This was in response to a request from the Social Renewal Advisory Board to gather information and hear first-hand the effect that lockdown had on individuals and communities across Scotland and will be used to inform future support and policy.

The CPP Team continues to work on reporting and returns in relation to our statutory requirements on Equalities, Child Poverty, LOIP and other cross cutting policy areas.

The Community Grant Scheme is moving to an online process and the team continues to prepare for the launch of the next round.

Our Resettlement Officer continues to offer intensive full-time support to our Refugee families remotely and has translates updates and guidance on an ongoing basis and facilitates access to essential services.

Roads and Environment

Roads Network Operations

The roads Network Operations team continue 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 will now move onto our secondary routes with initial focus on the Bearsden area along with reported gully defects.

The team continue 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.

The team are 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 have continued to complete advanced preparation works for Capital projects as well as gather information for annual Asset Management and Performance submissions. The team are 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, where initially only responding to life and limb emergency however, the team have 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 are 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 continue to work on ongoing tasks suited to home based working such as processing inventory records, updating and data cleansing. They have now returned to site inspection duties and have and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. The team is progressing design for capital upgrade works and 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 have also responded to any planning applications, which have been received.

The Roads Network Team are 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 Structures Team have been removing graffiti and repairing two underpasses in Bishopbriggs, as well as removing graffiti on Wester Cleddens Road rail bridge and Westerhill cycleway bridge.  Fresh graffiti at Westerhill is to be removed. Low bridge signing and chord marking replacement on 4 Network Rail bridges is being programmed. Lionsgate Bridge, Kirkintilloch has had the bridge expansion joint repaired and parapets painted.

Planned works include finishing jobs and repairs that were started before lockdown these include: Burncrooks Bridge, Milngavie, scour protection and parapet rebuild; retaining wall rebuild and repair at Clober Road, Milngavie; repairs to retaining wall on Allander Water, Milngavie and repairs to a culvert on College Gate, Bearsden.  General and Principle Inspections are continuing.

The Drainage Team have carried out a repair at Westerhill Road Lochgrog roundabout that was ponding.  In the next month, they will be carrying out upgrades at Blair Drive and Kincaid Way, Milton of Campsie. There was a video meeting with SEPA and local MSPs and MPs to discuss responsibilities for flooding generally and some specific sites relating to the weather event in August.

The Traffic Team are refreshing the road markings on the A81 from Manse Road to Burnbrae Roundabout. This is taking place overnight to reduce the impact on daytime traffic. Further lining schemes are being prepared for Tannoch Drive and Allander Toll. The Team will run the Road Safety Calendar competition again this year and is about to issue invites to schools to participate in that and the Junior Road Safety Officer programme. Preparation is underway to provide a gateway feature for the Lennoxtown end of Milton of Campsie. There have been video meetings with the Roads Authorities and Utilities Committee and meeting utility companies to programme road works.

Streetscene Operations

The teams continue the grass cutting routes, which is now well into the third cycle.  Leisure Trust pitch renovations have been completed and pitches are now undergoing vertidraining, with all artificial pitches continuing to be maintained by the council's appointed external contractor. .  The team continues to complete burial services along with interment of cremated remains.  Street litterbin and street sweeping also continue, on a reduced service and the team are preparing for the winter programme through refreshing Risk Assessments that have been adapted for COVID-19 conditions. 

The Service has purchased 3 street barrows for street cleaning in town centres which have now been delivered and once the RA is approved, teams will be able to provide this valuable tool to staff.   Play parks inspections continue along with repairs and removal of glass, with the teams tackling a high level of vandalism of safety surfacing and removal of graffiti.  Looking forward to the end of the growing season, and following approval of risk assessments for extendable/pole hedge cutting, occasional chainsaw work etc, squads will be undertaking required pruning and small tree management works. 

Streetscene Technical Support

Staff are progressing with capital projects such as Lennox Park and Afton View (which have now been awarded), Kilmardinny House extension with the installation of the wedding gazebo to take place on 29th September, sowing of pollinator Trails, and continuance of play park repairs.  Contractors have completed soil investigation works at Etive Park and currently the data is being analysed by the Principal Designer of the Green Infrastructure project at Etive & Woodhill Parks.  The brief for contractors for the restoration of the Peel Park Bandstand in Kirkintilloch awaiting publication to the Scottish procurement portal.  Maintenance continues on the KLR and BRR road verges, and Officers are overseeing and managing contractual works with Pitches contractors.  The team have been in discussion regarding the finalisation of Allotment Regulations as part of the Food Growing Strategy.  Officers also continue to respond to a large amount of emergency tree and open space enquiries.  Development work continues with SEPA and stakeholders about river restoration options for the Glazert, Allander, Luggie and Parkburn.  The Gower Cemetery system is almost finalised and being live tested.  Benches are to be replaced at the Torrance War Memorial and Colquhoun Park, which will also have an annual management plan drawn up.

Mugdock Country Park

Mugdock Country Park continues to be a very popular destination for local residents and visitors, and small areas such as the BBQ sites are being hired out.  Staff are preparing for the Mugdock Joint Management Committee at the end of September.  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 have been sought for the repair of the walled garden/bandstand area, and the team are reviewing current signage and fencing around the Quarry.

 

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 11 September 2020

Education

All schools and early years’ centres are operating well with the new arrangements in place.   This includes the wearing of face coverings in secondary schools when moving around the school and on school transport.   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 this is then discussed with the Executive Officer, Place & Community Planning; who has responsibility for Environmental Health.  There is then a discussion with the Public Health Protection Unit and they advise on self-isolation for identified close contacts.  Information has been provided to parents and staff; this is now available on the Council website for ease of access.

All schools and centres are working to finalise their School / Centre Recovery Plan supported by the Quality Improvement Team.  The main areas will be to develop digital learning and assessing and supporting learning loss.  Digital learning is important as a contingency if children or a year group is required to self-isolate due to Covid.  All schools have arrangements in place, which are implemented if a child or class are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

A comprehensive digital strategy is being implemented supported by the Digital development and ICT teams.  This includes the device replacement programme as well as the provision of IT hardware and connectivity to ensure equity through the devices for pupils programme.   Schools will consider the use of Pupil Equity Funding to further support the provision of digital devices to ensure equity.  The development of digital learning has accelerated during lockdown and it is important to prioritise the delivery of education in a different way, taking account of the current context.  The use of IT platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms, provide an opportunity for digital learning in the classroom and home learning to be more streamlined.  This has the advantage of being able to be accessed if a child is not able to be at school due to the need to self-isolate.

A working group, comprising parent council representatives, school staff and teacher trade unions, has been set up to provide guidance on reporting to parents. The restrictions due to Covid mean that parents meetings will not be possible and so guidance on different ways to ensure parents get feedback on their child’s progress will be developed.  This guidance will then be used by all schools working with Parent Councils to develop approaches, which are appropriate for their school.  All primary schools will be provided with a new IT platform: Seesaw, which provides a mechanism for communicating and sharing a child’s progress between schools and parents.

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 use of small group support, a Supported Study programme and the use of digital learning will be used dependent on the needs of pupils and the context of the school.  The use of Microsoft Teams, for example, provides an opportunity for a twilight or evening session for pupils to support learning.

There is on- going engagement and close working with the Teacher Trade Union to ensure that issues related to workload are addressed through the Working Time Agreement.  All guidance is discussed and agreed through the LNCT.

It is a very challenging time for head teachers and staff in schools and it is important to develop ways to continue to deliver high quality education to our children and young people through clear prioritisation of resources.

Organisational Transformation

Procurement Team

The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services. 

 

The team is leading the purchase of the general and specialist PPE requirements within individual services/locations. Work is taking place with key schools staff to understand the curriculum needs for PPE based on risk assessments and control measures.  Supply chains continue to be monitored for essential and high demand items of PPE and supplies.

 

The team continues to ensure that supplier payments are processed through the increased and more regular payments.

 

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.

Risk assessments continue to be developed and progressed for a number of services including Leisure Centres, Positive Achievements, Outdoor Education and Property Services.  Following the Scottish Government publication of Guidance on Adult Social Care Building Based Day Services, work is developing across a number of services to support the HSCP. The team will be working with NHS colleagues on the Flu Immunisation Risk Assessments in place to deliver the programme throughout September 2020 – January 2021.

Subject specific engagement has taken place to support Education teams on the required guidance and safe systems of work for practical subjects including PE and Music.  All guidance and practice will be in line with Scottish Government and lead professional body guidelines. Work continues through proactive engagement with Head Teachers and Early Years. The Health & Safety Executive undertook call sampling of schools with many of our schools contacted.  The HSE announced a series of inspections, which will take place in the coming weeks, and we have confirmation of these being at 2 Secondary and 3 Primary schools in East Dunbartonshire Council.  The first of these meetings has received positive feedback.  

The team is working to develop the Health & Safety pages of the Employee Zone Website and these will be released via Employee News once live.

The team supported the Health & Safety 2nd Tier meetings (EPB, PNCA & Education) with positive feedback on the measures, guidance and communication being shared by trades union colleagues. These meetings have facilitated presentations and strategic discussions on the Health & Safety elements of the return of services and schools reopening. The 1st Tier Health & Safety Committee takes place in the coming weeks.

Social Work Commissioning Team

The team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services throughout this time. 

The Team will play a central role following the announcement of various guidance on recommencement of services by providers as well as the protocols for assurance for Council that appropriate measures are in place.  The team will lead the dialogue on recommencement of services on various packages of care and more significant provision. All protocols in place will follow all Scottish Government Guidance.  

Work will continue into winter for the HSCP Mobilisation Plan for additional costs incurred for providers and Care Home Sustainability payments.

The team participate in a number of groups within HSCP aimed at response and recover such as the Care Home Governance Group and the Local Resilience Management Team Meetings.

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 are reviewing the current Individual Risk Assessment guidance in place for employees who were previously shielding, based on the updated guidance by the Scottish Government. Ongoing engagement with Head Teachers and Managers is a feature of the work of the team as employees are returning or preparing to return to the workplace.

Absence analysis continues by the team on the trends being seen across Covid and Non Covid related absences. An Elected Member Technical Note with the Absence Analysis for 2019/20 and Quarter 1 2020/21 will be issued week commencing 14 September.

The team continues to support the extensive FM recruitment programme of Day Cleaners, seeking to make appointments as soon as possible to support the Assets & Facilities Teams deploying resources as quickly as possible.

Business & Transformational Change

The team continues to support a number of Workstreams to support digital development at this time ensuring that existing systems continue to be supported.

The Transitional Support for Childcare Providers launched on 3 September 2020 supported by the team with Education. The team is also supporting the Devices for Pupil Programme in partnership with ICT and the deployment of Microsoft Teams as communicated within a recent Employee News. The programme of deployment of Microsoft Teams will take place across all corporate employees across EPB, PNCA and HSCP as well as some Education teams who require external video access, which is not currently available through the existing education systems.   

Work continues to refresh the Cashless Catering project taking account of the COVID elements of equipment.  Supplier engagement is ongoing to develop a schedule of deployment to those Primary schools who do not currently have the functionality in place.  A mobile app is being progressed for Secondary School pupils to allow for pre ordering and more mobile payment services.

The team are also supporting a number of workstreams within the HSCP around Digital Health & Care Strategy development and specific digital projects.

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 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.

In addition to the above, work has commenced 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.

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.  In the first week of September, 42 deaths and 31 births have been registered in East Dunbartonshire

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 in the first instance.  To date, the Registrar has conducted four marriages including a special dispensation ceremony, which was arranged at very short notice due to illness.  18 marriages have been registered including religious/ other non-religious faith belief ceremonies. 

Work is ongoing to reintroduce ceremonies within private venues e.g. hotels etc.  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 local restrictions which mean that it is no longer permissible for ceremonies to take place in the garden of a domestic dwelling.

In addition to the above, the Team will be issuing details of the initial process for citizenship ceremonies and is hoping to hold the first ceremony before the end of the month.  These ceremonies will be more restricted in terms of attendance and time than before and will be subject to any changes to the local 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.  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.  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.  Members of the team, with ICT are developing guidance, processes and training for the administrative arrangements and other processes that will be necessary to support remote meetings going forward.  Since the last update to Members, the LRB has met virtually for the first time on 2nd September and a further meeting is scheduled for 16 September, followed by a meeting of the East Dunbartonshire HSCP Board on 17 September.    Moreover, the team is preparing for a cycle of virtual Committee meetings between October and December.  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, planning is about to start for a further series of meetings of the Placing Request Appeals Committee to consider late appeals and these are being scheduled for later this month.

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.

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 the return to school and new devices were successfully installed in all schools in advance of the new session commencing.  Work remains on going in response to a significant request for information received from an external enquiry body and further generic and individual specific requests are anticipated. 

In addition to the above, the Information Management Team is working closely with the Chief Solicitor & Monitoring Officer in relation to Freedom of Information, given the increasing number of FOI requests because of the pandemic and the Team is supporting services with these.  Also, there continues to be an inordinate number of requests across the organisation from 2 or 3 Scottish Parliament researchers, which are placing considerable strain on services at a time when resources continue to be stretched in managing the consequences of COVID-19 and re-establishing service provision.  Work is being undertaken to collate the volume and types of request currently being received, given the impact on service delivery and resources.

Besides the above, the Team has recently been collating information regarding the consequences of EU exit for information management and security.  This is relevant where systems/information is hosted outwith the EU and soon outwith the UK following EU exit.  A return of the relevant systems and information processed has been submitted to Scottish Government and the Team will continue to develop this workstream as appropriate.

SMT Support & Members Support Teams

The SMT Support team are 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.

Legal Services

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.  Following on from the completion of contracts for the former Tom Johnstone House and Nithsdale demolition contracts, 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. 

The Commercial Team continues to closely advise Education in respect of the changes to the Early Years provision (particularly in relation to partner providers) and, due to further recent changes in provision, is now ensuring that these are adequately captured contractually to ensure high quality delivery of services from providers on terms which can be relied upon and enforced if necessary.  

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 is 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.

The team has also recently worked with Democratic Services and the Planning Service to resume the meetings of the Local Review Body with the first meeting having already taken place.  The team is responsible for the running of the meetings including the drafting of reports and corresponding with applicants. 

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 in the team’s diary for the coming weeks, in particular, in relation to social work issues.  In addition, The ongoing 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. 

The Council’s licensing function has all but resumed, with applications and processes available for all forms of licensing, excepting Public Entertainment Licences (PELs).  As previously reported, the reopening of outside drinking areas has resulted in the development of new processes and has seen an increase in applications for occasional licences.  Support continues to be provided across a number of services to support affected businesses and, in the main, this is working well.  The Team continues to liaise with Environmental Health so that any non-compliance with social distancing, contact tracing etc within licenced premises can be assessed against the relevant licences and reported to the Licensing Board as appropriate.  As reported previously, online forms and automated processes have been introduced for liquor licensing and all forms of civic government licensing (excepting PELs).  This represented a significant amount of work effectively automating processes and forms in less than a month and the support of colleagues in Customer Services, Change Team and ICT was critical.  The processes are such that an efficient and robust licensing service can now be delivered with minimum face-to-face contact.  These processes have now been operating for several weeks and appear to be working well.  Work is well progressed on the reintroduction of PELs, to complement the recent changes in lockdown restrictions announced by the Scottish Government, however has been paused pending the coming review of those arrangements in light of the locally applied restrictions. 

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. 

Legal Services continues to provide significant support to the Education Service.  Following conclusion of the main Appeal Hearing sessions, the Team is preparing for appeals to the Sheriff Court, including some pre-litigation activity already ongoing.  This week, one of the solicitors will represent the Council “in person” in a proof in Glasgow Sheriff Court in relation to one of the appeals.  Additional proofs are expected in the coming weeks and substantial resource is required to prepare for and conduct these.  In recent years, the Council has had the highest number of appeals per capita of any other local authority and early indications suggest that this year will follow that trend.  These are challenging actions given that timescales are shortened and the law is somewhat outdated.  They can often result in somewhat emotive evidence being led by appellants and so there is a fine balance in terms of countering these statements too robustly

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. 

Customer and Business Support Services

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 increasing numbers of daily enquiries, particularly relating to the reintroduction of services through the Covid-19 Recovery Phase.  Call volumes and email enquiries have significantly increased with the return to schools and Early Years Centres and with the further information that has been issued in relation to testing and particularly testing in children.  Clear signposting is provided to NHS and Scottish Government sources and to the new Local Outbreak page of the Council website now that this has been established.

Customer Service delivery remains primarily through digital and phone channels.  An appointment only based approach has been introduced for the reintroduction of licensing, with applications and eligibility criteria submitted digitally and processed and an appointment required for the final stage of taxi licence applications/renewals for reviewing original supporting documentation and the provision of plates/badges where required.  Significant applications/renewals are anticipated this month with the final extension for due licenses expiring at the end of the month.   

Registration services (by Assistant Registrars in Customer Services) continue a 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase.  The Assistant Registrars are continuing to progress the backlog of birth registrations in line with the timescale committed on the Council website with July births able to be registered from this week.  Death registration continues to be delivered remotely by the team based in Kirkintilloch community Hub and a rota is now in place for ceremony delivery following the reintroduction of ceremonies for marriages and civil partnerships.

Communications

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. 

The inclusion this week of East Dunbartonshire Council area in the West of Scotland outbreak restrictions required rapid messaging via the website and social media, the development of a new Local Outbreak web page and collaboration across West of Scotland authorities to ensure co-ordinated and consistent messaging.

Local Outbreak Communications:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/covid-19

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/joint-leaders-respond-scottish-government-announcement-local-lockdown-measures-east

https://www.facebook.com/edunbartonshirecouncil/photos/a.309029762503048/4287997661272885/

https://www.facebook.com/edunbartonshirecouncil/photos/a.309029762503048/4287997661272885/

Communications support continues with the reintroduction of further services in line with the Council’s approach to service recovery with all areas of the team supporting communications requirements (graphic design, website development, media relations and social/digital channels). High volumes of media enquiries continue in relation to schools and testing children for Covid-19.  Other media interest is around the reintroduction of library services and the reopening of leisure centres from next week. The team has prepared a video for the reopening of leisure centres. 

Regular updates continue to be provided to the Council website and clear messaging is being issued through social media in relation to Council services and the national key messages from partners.  The Employee Zone of the website is being expanded and developed to support 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. 

Key communications campaigns over the past few weeks have included:

Supporting the ZWS Scotland is Stunning Campaign:


https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/scotland-stunning-%E2%80%93-east-dunbartonshire-council-backs-zero-waste-scotland-campaign

Combat fly tipping:

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/new-measures-introduced-east-dunbartonshire-council-tackle-scourge-fly-tipping

Supporting 999 Emergency Services Day:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/east-dunbartonshires-emergency-services-honoured-provost-and-council-colleagues

Corporate Performance & Research

The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues their support for data collation and analysis across services to meet continuing national Covid-19 reporting requirements. The reporting frequency has reduced in some areas as service recovery continues. Quality assurance work and data cleansing also continues across the data systems used for reporting returns, with improvements being implemented in key service areas.    The LGBF return has been completed and engagement continues with Audit Scotland in relation to performance information provision.  Insurance inspections have been recommenced in line with guidance and to meet requirements of the Council’s insurance policies and renewals.  

Shared Services

Shared Services continues to provide support to the shielding and vulnerable members of our community through answering the calls to the local Shielding Helpline (0141 777 3345) and the National Helpline (0800 111 4000).  The Transport team continue to liaise with all our providers to implement the necessary contracts.  The Letting team have started the process to bring outdoor training back and have been liaising with client groups to gather requirements and with colleagues in Health and Safety and Facilities Management to ensure safe access for the groups.

Revenues & Benefits

The Revenues and Benefits team continue to meet performance targets with an increased workload this year.  They are dealing with high volumes of transactions across all areas of the service including Scottish Welfare Fund, Council Tax, Benefits and Non Domestic Rates. 

ICT

The support teams continue to provide hardware and software support to both corporate and educations users.  There is a high focus on ICT development projects to support digital learning within Education. The team are working on the provision of 1200 devices for pupils; replacing over 600 machines in the device replacement programme and configuring 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.

Finance and Audit

The teams are working to finalise a number of Finance reports for consideration by Council on the 1 October.  These Reports are key to tracking ongoing expectations of additional spend against that currently reported within services.  This is important for the Council’s General Fund, Capital and Housing.  Work is ongoing to review all planned reports including any that have associated financial implications.

Similar to other finance updates the 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 including working with CoSLA and the Directors of Finance.  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. Specific Updates for teams include

Accounts, Technical & Debt

The team has finalised all the Newly Self Employed Hardship Fund and Bed & Breakfast Hardship Fund applications and sent the final return to the Scottish Government.  Arrangements are now being made for the underspend of grants funding to be returned to support the wider Covid response.  Since this date, further ad-hoc return has now been requested for Business Grants with the information being made public on the 10 Sept (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-fund-grant-statistics/).  Teams continue to work on the last few applications outstanding for the Business Grants schemes however, as the returns show this is largely complete. Other work includes:

·       Year-end - continuing engagement with Audit Scotland on the audit of the Council's accounts, liaison with EDLCT.

·       Systems - working with consultants on the health check of the Oracle ledger system, continuing work transforming income systems to assist with the Covid response and wider transformation.

·       Returns - meeting requirements of Scottish and UK government for annual and Covid returns (business grants) and benchmarking.

General Revenue

The team continues to work on COSLA returns with revised submissions for income and education sitting alongside consolidated COVID spreadsheets (for both Council and HSCP).  Ongoing financial monitoring is reaching a level of normality albeit with the added complexity of how to present the respective ins and outs over the first reporting period.  Work continues within education to align new staffing requirements to changed funding arrangements.  In addition work within the 1140 and PEF expenditure is ongoing to ensure that any headroom can be used to accommodate additional Covid pressures.  Further work is being specified to look at payment requirements within transport contracts as well as additional grants work required within the support for people.  With such a large number of grant extensions, revisions or new allocations (totalling 21 different awards over 7 different outcomes) work is ongoing to support services to ensure that spend is aligned and eligible.

Capital, Housing & Treasury

Following the treasury management outturn report being completed reported to Council the work is ongoing to finalise the Treasury Management Strategy for a future Council meeting.  This will be challenging given the impact of COVID on current Council operations and the need to borrow.  The team continue to support the work of the Glasgow City Region and the Council’s project with regular attendance at the finance meetings to inform the work of the Chief Executives and internal city deal meetings .  The team continue to work with brokers and Link to support the development of the future capital programme and timing in relation to the current programme of work. 

Internal Audit and Fraud

The internal audit team continues to progress the internal audit plan and to provide targeted support.  Ongoing audits include: benchmarking data for the 19/20 Local Government Benchmarking Framework, HSCP Financial Planning and additional Covid related costs claimed by HSCP providers.  The team has been supporting the completion of Reports for the HSCP’s next Performance and Risk Committee with updates being provided in line with the Council’s plan of work.  Internal Audit are also finalising the audits of business grant appeal cases, have provided support by auditing the Director of Finance accounts and continue to provide advice to services on controls when requested. Auditors are also liaising with services to complete audits and associated action plans where this was delayed due to the Covid response.

 

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 11 September 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.  All services have commenced a programme of updating their Business Continuity Plans during the first half of September, as part of surge planning.  This will have particular significant in the light of the re-establishment of social distancing restrictions in East Dunbartonshire on 7 September.

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 have also been 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, the HSCP Recovery and Transition Planning arrangements have been developed, 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.  They also aim to ensure that services prepare well for the potential scenarios that lie ahead in terms of pandemic planning, such as a second wave of the virus and/or significant winter pressures. 

A high level HSCP Recovery and Transition Plan will be presented to the HSCP Board for approval at its September 2020 meeting, which recognises the simultaneous processes of service remobilisation and continued public health constraints.     This has been augmented by service level recovery and transition plans where all HSCP services have assessed 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 Route-map and the development of more detailed guidance.  Services have been asked to consider whether as they move through and out of the crisis, they should:

  • Restart business as usual: Initiate a return to service provision as it was delivered prior to the outbreak of Covid-19
  • Adapt the current service models: to improve processes or outcomes, to reflect ongoing constraints or opportunities, changing circumstances or changing needs of service users and clients.  This might be where lessons learned during Covid may contribute to ongoing service development.
  • Retain the current service models:  If assessment driven by data and feedback from stakeholders suggests it is working and is feasible, or if national guidance requires it, continue with the current approach.
  • Stop the current service models: At an appropriate and agreed point in time the current service models should stop. Of particular relevance to services that have been developed entirely in response to the pandemic and where adaptation is not being considered.

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.  As described, our recovery planning involves surveillance and planning on the potential of further Covid resurgence locally and its potential impact on HSCP service delivery and the HSCP’s part in the whole system of health and social care.

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).

Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it and the PPE Hub that was previously established continues to operate effectively providing a source of supply to social care services in the area, regardless of who they are operated by, as well as self-directed support personal assistants and unpaid carers.  PPE requirements in care services will be a feature long term and we have now relocated the PPE Hub from its current setting at 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 have been prepared for consideration by the HSCP Board at its September meeting, which provides indication of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19.

Public Protection

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 was the subject of a separate Elected Member Technical Note issued on 11 August 2020 and subsequent correspondence with affected service users and their families.  

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.  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. 

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 almost 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.

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.  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.

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 Group is now looking at 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 launched a desk top inspection of care at home and housing support services and our statement and evidence has been submitted and scrutinised (including via an HSCP/Care Inspectorate virtual interview which took place on31 July 2020 ). The inspection, which is taking place across all areas, was due to report to Scottish Government in August 2020 however at the time of writing this report is still not available.