Service Update - Friday 25 September

PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 25 September 2020

Assets and Facilities

Facilities Management

Additional day cleaning staff operating during the hours of 9am and 3pm across all school sites and 8am and 6pm in all Early Years Facilities. Recruitment of additional cleaning staff ongoing with a large number of offers of employment issued following the second round of recruitment. Catering service operating a grab and go service across all schools at present with a review into the potential to increase the menu options ongoing. Deep cleans being carried out where incidents of COVID-19 infections confirmed.

Property Maintenance

Gas Safety Inspections ongoing in Housing properties where access can be taken safely. Emergency repairs service continues to be provided. Works to temporary homeless voids ongoing. Delivery of mainstream voids, capital works and non-emergency repairs to recommence w/c 5th October. Refresh of Asbestos management survey data across the non-housing estate ongoing. Smoke and heat detector installation programme throughout the housing estate progressing. Service undertaking a number of urgent and non-urgent repairs across the education estate.

Assets & Estates

Work continues to deliver major projects at Southbank House, KHCC and all Early Years sites. Revised programmes for delivery of major projects in the process of being verified however work progressing well on all sites. Mavis Valley Transfer Station project complete and site handed over to Neighbourhood Services. Extension to school and nursery at Killermont PS due to complete late September. Works to the existing pitches at Torrance, Hillhead and construction of a new synthetic pitch at Lenzie Academy due to commence on site in late September/October. 

Subject to Council approval, enabling works to support the construction of a new Boclair Academy, and construction of the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex and Allander Leisure Centre will commence at each site in October/November.

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.

Housing Development Programme

Work has commenced on the MR Render framework in Waterside, where opportunities are also being taken to improve the energy efficiency of buildings through the introduction of External Wall Insulation. The Windows and Doors programme is back up and running with close windows our focus for now. Electrical rewire work is also underway in void properties. Kitchens, Bathrooms have a small number underway via an external contractor, MPS, but the bulk of the work is still to recommence. Officers are investigating a limited programmes of installing energy efficient lightbulbs and loft insulation to help bring properties up to EESSH standards

4 out 5 turnkey sites budgeted for purchase over the next 2 years are now approaching construction phase. Phase One and Kilmardinny are at or near completion with 5 sites to be made available to tenants over the next month. Work on the former TJ House site has now commenced with 87 homes to be delivered in partnership with Hub West Scotland and constructed by CCG over the coming 18-20 months. Phase Three is approaching award and will see development of the former Lairdsland Primary school and two other sites. A feasibility study has recently completed looking at the next generation of new build sites. Two properties are being bought at Ellisland Drive, Kirkintilloch and Ash Grove, Lenzie to facilitate new build and regeneration

The Strategic Housing Investment Plan 2020-2025 is about to go out to consultation.

Housing

Homelessness

The Homelessness and Prevention Team continue to work remotely from home.  Homelessness interviews continue to be conducted over the telephone and/or by video link.  Households requiring assistance from the homelessness and prevention team since April 2020 is significantly lower than previous years; 92 households have made an application since April 2020 compared to 230 households during 2019/20.

The out of hours service however has been significantly busier; 174 calls have been made to the service since April 2020 (during 2019/20 a total of 163 calls were received April - March). 

Provision of temporary accommodation has been a challenge; since April 2020, 48 households have been accommodated in emergency accommodation.  There are no households in bed and breakfast at this time and to date the Council has not breached the recent changes to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order.   There are currently 201 households in temporary accommodation and our Housing Officers continue to work alongside our repairs team to ensure temporary accommodation is available as soon as possible for households most in need. 

Our Rent Deposit Guarantee Assistant has supported 15 households into accommodation in the private sector, resolving their homelessness and reducing pressure on temporary accommodation.

Housing Support workers and Project 101 continue to provide housing support via telephone calls/video link.

There are currently 396 households on the homelessness list; 78 are currently under offer for settled accommodation.

Due to our settled accommodation, voids being on hold since March 2020 many households in temporary accommodation have been unable to move to their settled accommodation.  In the short-term we have sourced additional units to for the purposes of decants/temporary accommodation. We will be working alongside the Allocations/Estate Team in the next few weeks/months as void works recommence. Work is ongoing with colleagues in Property Services and Health and Safety Teams to look at measures to allow the reintroduction of work within general housing void properties.

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.

The Rents Team are looking into a proactive approach to COVID-19 arrears and are looking at options available.  Flyer type postcard and tenant surveys to allow us to gain useful information on the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their finances and their ability to pay rent.  If this is actioned a report will be made available to Committee on the findings and the actions following this. As at week 24 current rent arrears are £1,252,474.

Tenant Participation

The TPWG restarted, online through Microsoft Teams – this took place on Thursday 17th September at 2pm with a number of Councillors in attendance, 4 tenants/residents and members of staff from Housing.  This worked well and Research Resource provided a detailed presentation on the Tenants Satisfaction Survey and Housing presented information on their vision for Asset Management and how they plan to take this forward through strategy in the future.  Copies of the presentations can be obtained through Tracey McLean.

Estates

Voids and sign ups - Housing Officers are working on signing up as many applicants as possible. By the end of September – a further 22 flats are due to be signed up at Katrine Court, Bearsden, with 35 Voids signed up so far.

The service is awaiting confirmation of void work restarting to allow further sign ups to take place.  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic Housing statistics will include a column to show the time lapse due to COVID-19.  This is now being worked on for the void relet stats as well as the void rent loss stats. 

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.

Land Planning & Development

Planning Applications and Building Standards

The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible.  In accordance with the relevant risk assessment planning and enforcement site visits are continuing to take place under the current local and national restrictions. 

Planning Board papers have been issued to Members for the meeting on the 29 September 2020. The Delegated Decisions Report and the Appeals & Other Matters Report have also been circulated by Technical Note due to the volume of business to be considered at the meeting.

Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible.  Similar to Planning, site visits are continuing to take place in accordance with the relevant risk assessment for those properties and sites where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate. 

The team have been receiving a substantial amount of revised information in respect of applications where the service has been awaiting responses to first reports and follow up reports that have been issued. Officers are processing these responses with a view to progressing outstanding applications.

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

Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS

The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council.  Officers are now organising in detail the consultation on the Proposed LDP2 to take place from 19 October 2020 to 15 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.  Given the changing restrictions relating to COVID-19, adjustments may need to be made during the representation period.

The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan will be 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, subject to Council approval.

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 is supporting the policy team with the spatial work of the upcoming Local Development Plan.  This work is nearing its completion, with the focus now moving to the collation, symbolising and publishing of data for the Proposed Plan.  Part of this programme of work has also included highlighting areas where officers in the policy teams could utilise the GIS software to enhance collaboration and communication between officers, senior management, elected members and other key stakeholders. A comprehensive training package is being developed with the aim of upskilling officers and enhancing the accuracy of data being produced.  The team have also continued supporting the planning and building standards departments, with the development of the 2020 National Customer Survey for Building Standards, utilising SQL and MS(A) skills, being submitted ahead of schedule for review by the Scottish Government.  Elected members have also agreed on the name of the new development on the former St Agatha's Primary School site, St Agatha's Grove.  The process of updating databases and issuing of official letters is now underway.

City Deal

Officers continue to engage with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC.  Work on the outline business case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but progress is being made in relation to recruitment of core project management resources, programming and work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval). Technical work to consider land ownership and the BRR5 route have commenced and meetings with landowners and businesses are ongoing.

Regeneration & Town Centres

The team is working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 and a report on this work is contained in the papers for Council on 1 October. Project activity and progress is being maintained via virtual meetings and electronic communication. The team are pleased to report that the Antonine Wall Play Park in Peel Park Kirkintilloch is programmed to start on site in November. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required.

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.

Town centre visits will recommence this month in line with Scottish Government guidance and following the relevant risk assessment. This will allow the team to have a much needed physical presence in the town where this cannot be facilitated virtually which had been suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions. Local partners and businesses have welcomed this development. This will also allow the team to monitor town centre shop vacancies and get a sense of how local businesses are operating given the challenging circumstances.

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 Services

Waste Services

Household Collection

Current activity is in line with previous updates, waste collections are operating normally for residents whilst social distancing restrictions continue to apply in vehicles. The last weekly reported tonnage data (w/e 13th September) shows our waste remains at 8% higher than that of pre-Covid levels.

Dry Recycling Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents. It is National Recycle Week (w/c 21.09.20) and the theme this year focuses on thanking residents for the continued efforts in recycling over the past 6 difficult months.  East Dunbartonshire has taken part through sharing our thanks to residents and providing recycling tips on the Councils social media platforms. August has seen our recycling from the kerbside increase overall by 6% compared to the same period last year.

Food Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents.  The tonnage continues to increase following a slow start immediately after the suspension period.

Green Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents and officers are reviewing the timing of this service ending for the season and the transfer of resources to assist in the reintroduction of special uplifts.

Bulky Collections / Bin Deliveries

The service has been working in the past fortnight to catch up on all bin deliveries, residual bins were prioritised and now complete and focus is now on recycling bins and food containers.

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

The site continues to operate on reduced opening hours, throughput continues to be high, with traffic management support from the Roads team during the busy weekend periods.

Fleet Services

In line with the continued need for social distancing and other government guidance, the workshop is still operating on shorter shifts for the foreseeable future. There is some good news on the mechanic front as the services has recently completed the recruitment of two new mechanics. The focus of activity in the workshop continues to see concentration on HGV servicing and all MOT tests at the moment, but have also started to clear some back log of smaller vehicles.

Preparation is also in place for roads Department gritters in time for them to be calibrated in early October for the beginning of the winter gritting period.

Office based staff are still working from home and going into the office only when required for deliveries, supporting the workshop etc.

Place and Community Planning

Environmental Health

The ‘Test and Protect’ programme’ comprises of Test, Trace, Isolate and Support, and an Environmental Health Officer is currently working full time with public health partners at GGC NHS Board on contact tracing. 

Since the lifting of lockdown numbers of Covid 19 cases are rising considerably with restrictions in the East Dunbartonshire Council area. This has generated significant extra demand on the service with implicated businesses identified by test and protect being visited to assess and ensure businesses are compliant. Staff have had a key role in several Problem Assessment Groups / Incident Management Team meetings in response to identified cases and also attend Covid 19 focussed Health Board meetings twice each week to facilitate effective partnership working.

EHO’s continue to enforce the Regulations as well as providing individually tailored advice and guidance to our food and drink business community on both the legislation and Scottish Government guidance. This includes undertaking a significant work involving proactive visits to the East Dunbartonshire hospitality sector over the coming weeks, in order to assess compliance, offer additional guidance and where necessary take enforcement action. 150 hospitality premises will be visited and compliance has been found to be 75% good overall to date although some examples of poor compliance have been observed which are being followed up.

EHO’s are resuming visits to environmental protection and public health referrals. During the period of emergency response a considerable backlog of referrals have built up and officers are now making inroads to this dealing with the most urgent cases first.   Officers working in the field of Air Quality have produced our Annual Progress Report which was submitted to the Scottish Government. The report has been approved with very positive feedback on its contents. 

The Council’s Lead Food Officer is currently working in a specialist sub group of SFELC with the aim of providing specialist Service Planning Guidance for use by Environmental Health services when all Official Controls restart. Discussions are ongoing nationally on the impact of the UK’s EU withdrawal in the near future and will be impacted on the timing and nature of any deal or no deal. EHO’s are also regularly attending virtual Liaison group meetings in the fields of Food Safety, Health and Safety, Public Health and Housing, Pollution Control as well as Contaminated Land.

Trading Standards

The Trading Standards team continue to provide advice and guidance to consumers and businesses during these challenging times and  is liaising with consumers and traders, normally in the non food and drink sector, where problems arise. In terms of the Scottish Government route map the country remain in phase 3 with the new Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 coming into force on 14 September.

COVID-19 related work has included:  an increase in enquiries relating to the East Dunbartonshire local measures from traders who work within people's homes and traders who operate from their own home; complaints alleging a lack of physical distancing by school pupils at lunchtime and a lack of adherence to the mandatory wearing of face masks by pupils in retail premises, face covering issues were passed to the local Police. Assisting non-regulated children's activity providers with enquiries regarding the opening up of this sector.

Trading Standards also continue to receive increasing numbers of  complaints  and requests for advice from  beauticians, hairdressers and barbers providing close contact services in the high risk zone  This has proved both contentious and challenging to deal with  and to support this sector understand their obligations not to provide services which entail the removal of a customer's face mask. They have therefore written to all retailers and engaged social media to help retailers and customers of these obligations, over 200 letters.

The Trading Standards team continue to raise awareness of email scams through social media e.g. DVLA, test and protect, and .Gov scams. Work with Police Scotland on Operation Skipjack is ongoing and we have leaflet dropped in neighbourhoods which have been targeted by cold callers/bogus workmen.  Also recently instructed expert witness surveys carried out in furtherance of this area of work.

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 the contract.  Our officers liaise between both parties to de-escalate and resolve disputes. 

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 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 throughout lockdown. Permanent Bait services for pest control are now also recommencing in order to support EDLCT and other Council services as they reopen certain buildings or facilities within their remit.

For Community Wardens on-street enforcement for parking offences commenced week beginning 17 August.  Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced on Monday 14 September 2020. The car park at Kenmure, Bishopbriggs become a chargeable car park at that time.  There are also plans to recommence some patrol work in relation to environmental breaches as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in the coming weeks.

The team is 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 the team has re-commenced ASB visits in order to try and 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 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.

Community Planning & Partnerships

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. This is likely to increase in the future through the anticipated support required from Test and Protect and those self isolating that face financial hardship. Further guidance is awaited from Government on the introduction of hardship payments to those who are required to self isolate and how these will be administered by local government.

Our COVID-19 response was a partnership approach between EDVA and EDC in providing support to those most vulnerable in our communities and we will continue to build on this through any required Test and Protect support required. 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 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 is continuing with our gully maintenance Secondary Routes focusing on high priority locations in the first instance.

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 is continuing to support colleagues in Waste with the operation of Mavis Valley Transfer Station, providing traffic management to assist with the control of vehicles accessing the site.

Roads Inspectors are now carrying out all statutory safety inspection routes as well as investigating issues reported across the road network. As operations by utility companies have now increased the inspectors along with the Utility technician have commenced inspections of their operations as required. Inspectors and technician are now continuing to review and process and permit applications submitted to the Roads authority.

The Roads technical team has continued to complete advanced preparation works for Capital projects as well as gather information for annual Asset Management and Performance submissions. The team is also working on preparing of several Tenders for other Capital Works, including frameworks which may assist in delivery of projects delayed due to COVID 19.

The Roads lighting operational team, was initially only responding to life and limb emergency however the team has now amended working procedures and risk assessments which has allowed the team to return to standard operations, albeit with reduced resources. Some routine repairs to footpath light units are still on hold due to social distancing requirements. The team is now progressing with all reported lighting issues on the Network as well as assisting the Community protection team with the erection of temporary CCTV cameras.

The lighting technical team has been and continue 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 and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. Advanced preparation ahead of this year Christmas Light installation works has also been carried out with materials now ordered to allow installation to begin in the coming weeks. The team is progressing design for capital upgrade works and is working with our Health and Safety team to amend the necessary Risk Assessment and safe Working Practises to allow a return to the capital street lighting upgrade projects. The team is also responded to any planning applications which have been received.

The Roads Network Team is continuing to review Risk Assessment and Safe Working Practises in response to the Government guidance and are actively working towards increasing activities to allow a return to the Capital Resurfacing programme. Initially it is expected that the footpath resurfacing will commence first with the carriageway projects following on when transport and welfare facilities are addressed.

Roads Technical & Engineering

The Structures team is  liaising with Network Rail to arrange access to the Low bridge to replace signing and chord marking on 4 Network Rail bridges. 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.

They Drainage Team is currently carrying out upgrades at Blair Drive and Kincaid Way, Milton of Campsie. In addition the team continue to carry out various investigation works into flooding issues highlighted as part of the recent heavy rainfall. The team is also carrying out preparation works for drainage repairs at the junction of Gallowhill Road and Lenzie Road, Kirkintilloch.

The Traffic Team has completed the refreshment of road markings on the A81 from Manse Road to Burnbrae Roundabout, with only some minor remedial works needing carried out.  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 also the Junior Road Safety Officer programme. Preparation is underway to provide a gateway feature for the Lennoxtown end of Milton of Campsie.

The team is also preparing Tender Documents for the renewal of the Traffic Signal Maintenance contract as well as design works for future A803 traffic corridor improvements.

Streetscene Operations

The teams continue the grass cutting routes, which is now well into the third cycle.  Street litter bin 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. 

Pitch lining has been completed at Huntershill, Merkland, Ferguson, High Park 1, Boghead 1 & 2 Station Rd. and Colquhoun Park, with Milton, Thorn, Waterside to be completed by the weekend. Verti-Draining Application was completed.  Fertiliser application for the Autumn / Winter will be applied in early October.

Streetscene Technical Support

Kilmardinny House extension with the installation of the wedding gazebo to take place on 12th October.  Soil analysis for Etive Park to be confirmed in report next week. The Merkland car park upgrade has been completed along with Mains Park fencing, including an art project with P7 Clover Primary.  Skunk Cabbage eradication is complete at Barloch Moor and Lennox Park.  All works complete at Whitefield Pond. All remedial works complete, new emergent planting complete, new bins and seating installed. Merkland fencing - 3 quotes received, one under £1K, currently the Technical Support Team raising order and submitting PA1 to procurement.

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 stone BBQ area redesign.

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 25 September 2020

Education

All schools and early years’ centres continue to operate well with the new arrangements in place.   The procedures, when there is a positive case in a school, have been implemented in a number of schools.  The Head Teacher carries out a risk assessment, supported by the Chief Education Officer, and 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. 

While it is very challenging for the staff in schools, the arrangements that are in place are minimising the impact of any positive case.  Home learning is provided to pupils who are required to self-isolate.

Digital learning is a priority on all School Recovery Plans and support and professional learning is being provided by the central team.  The use of digital platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom is increasing both in schools and also for the provision of home learning.  This is being supported by the provision of devices to pupils who do not have access at home.

The draft guidance on reporting to parents will be issued to schools next week.   The restrictions due to COVID-19 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.

The SQA will confirm in the next few weeks the arrangements for the national qualifications next year.  This has significant implications for young people in S4 to 6.  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.

There are constraints on the accommodation within Campsie View School and it has been decided to move the nursery to the accommodation within Gartconner Primary School.  This area was previously used by Merkland but the pupils in Merkland are now being accommodated within the main school.  This will provide increase capacity within the school building and there are advantages to the nursery as there is a mainstream nursery within Gartconner.

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. The team continue to monitor supply chain for PPE stocks and other critical supplies at this time.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Health & Safety

The Senior Health & Safety Adviser continues to support services in the preparation of Risk Assessment and associated PPE, aligned to Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance.  Services across Council, HSCP and EDLCT are continuing to comply fully with the latest Public Health guidance based on the activities performed.

The 1st Tier Health & Safety meeting took place week commencing 14 September with positive discussions on strategic updates, campaigns and monitoring reports on the Health & Safety elements of the return of services.  Discussions continue on the experiences of schools since reopening and the meetings offered opportunity to reflect on experiences so far.  The Committee endorsed the principle of a campaign being developed around Violence against Employees with development taking place in the coming weeks.

The team will be supporting the return of the Property Maintenance Services with sessions around Health Surveillance, Tool checks and Risk Assessments for return to support the safe restart of services. 

Risk assessments continue to be developed and progressed through established governance structures for a number of services including Music Tuition, PE and other related practical subjects.    Engagement has commenced following the Scottish Government publishing of the Guidance on Adult Social Care Building Based Day Services with ongoing meetings looking at the implications and scenarios for the HSCP services. The team concluded the engagement on the Flu Immunisation Risk Assessments with NHS colleagues.

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.

The Health & Safety pages of the Employee Zone Website have now been launched. 

Social Work Commissioning Team

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

The Team 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 continues to support the return to work for employees and monitor the measures in place in partnership with Managers and Head Teachers. 

Absence analysis continues by the team on the trends being seen across COVID-19 and Non COVID-19 related absences. An Elected Member Technical Note with the Absence Analysis for 2019/20 and Quarter 1 2020/21 has been issued.

Council has now been awarded the Gold Healthy Working Lives Award.  The team are working with the Communications Teams on the Healthy Working Lives promotion campaigns for the coming months. 

The team continues to support recruitment as services identify requirements within their current establishment.  The team continues to support the extensive FM recruitment programme seeking to make appointments as soon as possible to support the Assets & Facilities Teams deploy resources as quickly as possible. A similar process is being planned for the currently advertised Homecarer vacancies. 

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 team has now concluded the roll out of Microsoft Teams as communicated in the Employee News and continues to work on the preparatory elements for the wider Microsoft 365 roll out.

Branding around Smart Working 2020 has been developed and will be a feature across all materials related to the Smart Working 2020 workstreams.

The team has supported the Transitional Fund for Childcare Providers through joint working with Education teams.

Work continues to on the Cashless Catering project taking account of the COVID-19 elements of equipment.  A key task has been the site surveys for each school to ensure connectivity in advance of equipment being ordered.  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. Engagement continues with the team, Assets & estates and Education the catering offering that informs the technology.

The team are also supporting a number of workstreams within the HSCP around Digital Health & Care Strategy development and specific digital projects. Resources are currently allocated to a number of workstreams aimed at preventing admission to services through proactive signposting as well as assisting the service delivery to the community.  The Digital Health & Care Strategy Board will be held in the coming weeks to identify priorities and actions.

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.  This is challenging in light of the changing environment in terms of the trajectory of infection rates and has to be flexible enough to adapt to developing circumstances e.g. the recent local lockdown and increasing national restrictions.

In addition to the above, work is continuing on detailed planning for a recurrence of COVID in the winter months.  Regular meetings are taking place at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at subject specific issues e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary.

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.  As at 23  September, 117 deaths and 56 births have been registered in East Dunbartonshire for the month of September.  The Team continues to monitor the national position and infection rates so that additional resources can be deployed if necessary.

Previous easing of restrictions in line with the Scottish Government roadmap resulted in clearer guidance for some marriages and civil partnership ceremonies being reintroduced.  As a result of significant support and assistance from colleagues in Customer Services, Facilities Management and Health & Safety the Team now has appropriate risk assessments and procedures in place to commence ceremonies.  At present, Kilmardinny remains closed and so ceremonies are taking place at 21 Southbank Road for now.  To date, the Registrar has conducted 12 marriages including a special dispensation ceremony, which was arranged at very short notice due to terminal illness of one of the contracting parties.   

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.

In addition to the above, the Team finalising details of the initial process for citizenship ceremonies.  In view of current restrictions this will focus on the administrative necessities as opposed to the ceremonial aspects, which will allow officers to assist those applicants for citizenship where time is of the essence.  It is not anticipated that formal ceremonies will be reintroduced given current restrictions on gathering.

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 may well increase in the next few weeks given the recent measures introduced and the need to have support arrangements in place for those required to self isolate.  In addition, the Team continues to participate in work to capture the events of the last few months from a civil contingencies perspective, as part of a local, regional and national “lessons learned” exercise.  Correspondence around EU Exit Planning continues to increase and this is now emerging as yet another of many corporate risks, requiring the attention of the Council as regional, and national agencies (WoSRRP & CoSLA) begin to activate existing regional planning groups.  Work to prepare for a no deal EU Exit will start to take up more officer time over the coming months.

Members will be aware that work has commenced on preparations for the Scottish Parliament Election scheduled for May 2021.  This planning also requires additional attention as a “COVID-lens” is applied to conventional election workstreams on a local and national basis.  The work plan for this includes a review of the lay out of all polling places and the arrangements for counting votes.  Contingency plans will be prepared which anticipate a resurgence in the virus and measures put in place to secure the availability of the core election team.  All aspects of the process and arrangements will be subject to robust risk assessments in order to protect employees, voters and candidates.  Further Technical Notes will be issued and reports submitted to Council as this work develops. 

The Team continues to work with ICT on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making.  The team is preparing for a cycle of virtual Committee meetings between October and December which includes a number of Boards and other meetings. 

Whilst the bulk of the Council’s Placing Request Appeals hearings have taken place, the Team continues to deal with the after effects and is responding to a number of queries and requests for information.  In addition, a meeting of the Placing Request Appeals Committee to consider late appeals was held on 22nd September, concluding the term intake for 20/21.

Throughout the pandemic, the Team has continued to support the Children’s Panel Hearings process and continues to work with the Area Support Team, Learning & Development Committee, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland via remote video meetings.  The annual Panel Member recruitment process that, normally takes place between August to October, has been continued to January to February 2021.  The Team will administer/support this process as with previous years.

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 g.  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 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 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 and in the recommencement of open market purchases and shared equity buy-backs to increase the provision of affordable housing within East Dunbartonshire.  One of the main issues with existing and planned contracts is how they deal with the allocation of the responsibility for risks to the projects presented by not only Covid-19 but also the UK’s exit from the EU.  This requires sophisticated contract drafting and intense negotiations with bidders in order to ensure that the Council is protected but also that the best commercial terms are reached and the projects remain affordable.

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 a couple of 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 having now taken place, including in relation to education and social work matters.  In addition, video hearings are continuing for matters, which make this possible including in relation to housing and employment actions.  The Team continues to support the Council’s services in the management of various complex matters, which are currently at the pre-litigation stage, in an effort to mitigate effects on the Council.  In addition, the team is currently preparing for a public inquiry in relation to a compulsory purchase order.

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 regarding placing requests.  Following conclusion of the main Appeal Hearing sessions, the Team has successfully defended the Council, as education authority, in respect of an appeal in the Sheriff Court and is preparing for another, including some pre-litigation activity.  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.  .  These are challenging actions given that timescales are shortened and the law is somewhat outdated.  They can often result in 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. 

The team is also preparing for a Sheriff Court proof in respect of a particularly important and sensitive housing matter and is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of lockdown in March and other matters which have arisen since.

Customer and Business Support Services

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.  Over the past fortnight this has included communications around the inclusion of the East Dunbartonshire Council area in the West of Scotland outbreak restrictions, requiring rapid messaging via the website and social media and the development of a new Local Outbreak web page.  Collaboration continues across West of Scotland authorities to ensure co-ordinated and consistent messaging and through the resilience partnership (WoSRRP) communications group.

Following the announcement this week of Scotland-wide measures  to control the rising spread of Covid-19, a Joint Leaders statement was issued encouraging everyone to play their part in following the measures:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/joint-council-leaders-respond-latest-covid-19-measures

The communications team is supporting the live streaming of public meetings, working closely with Democratic Services and ICT Services to stream meetings, including Planning Board, HSCP Board meetings and Council meetings through the Council’s you tube channel.  Viewing figures show that for the Council meeting on 20 August a total of 196 people viewed the meeting with a maximum of 50 viewing at any one time.  Planning Review Bodies held this month has had 128 people viewing the meeting with a maximum of 31 at any one time (meeting of 2 September) and 65 people viewing with a maximum of 24 at any one time (meeting of 16 September). This evidence suggests that more people are engaging with online meetings when compared to typical levels of public attendance at meetings within the Council Chamber.

Regular updates continue to be provided to the Council website and the website content and structure is being adapted to ensure residents can clearly navigate to the latest updates and guidance in relation to Council services and the national key messages from partners. The Employee Zone of the website is being expanded and developed and support for the regular delivery of internal communications with Organisational Transformation and the issue of Employee News and the reintroduced Depute Chief Executives’ Update are key elements of internal communications. 

Social media messaging continues to be an important tool for informing residents of key Council communications and sharing partner communications.  The Council currently has almost 17,000 Facebook followers and the Facebook page has received 909,000 views so far this month.  The three posts with the highest reach were the recruitment campaign for customer service agents (20,000), conformation that the Planning Application had been lodged for the new ASN school (15,000) and the recruitment campaign for carers (14,000). 

There are 18,000 Twitter followers and 97 tweets have been posted/shared so far in September.  The posts creating the greatest reach were the Joint Leader statement in response to the new national measure (58,000), the NHSGGC video Q&A session for parents with children in schools (37,000) and the HSCP parent group’s video on what to expect when attending your GP surgery (33,500).

The team continues to provide information to and respond to enquiries from national and local broadcast and print media.  To date in September the team have responded to 34 media enquiries and issued 8 media releases.

Corporate Performance & Research

The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues to support data collation and analysis across all Council services and the HSCP social care services to meet continuing national Covid-19 reporting requirements and inform the national position. The national reporting frequency has reduced in some areas as service recovery continues with data continuing to be recorded for local performance indicators and performance reporting. Quality assurance work and data cleansing also continues across the data systems used for reporting returns, with improvements being implemented in key service areas to give better confidence in data returns.    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 and insurance enquiries continue to be responded to.  

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.  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 remains primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance.  The appointment only based approach that has been introduced for the reintroduction of licensing is working effectively.  Applicants for new licences or renewals submit their applications and eligibility criteria digitally, and these are processed linking in with Legal Services.  Once finalised, an appointment an appointment is then required for the final stage of taxi licence applications/renewals for reviewing original supporting documentation and the provision of plates/badges.  With the final extension of licences extended as a result of Covid-19 expiring on 30 September, significant applications/renewals are anticipated this month and resources are being aligned to meet this additional demand.

Registration services (delivered by Assistant Registrars in Customer Services) continue to provide 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase, in line with current guidance on how registrations can be conducted.  Death registrations continue to be delivered remotely by the Assistant Registrars based in Kirkintilloch Community Hub with access to registration stationery for the provision and issue of official certificates and documentation.  The Assistant Registrars are also continuing to progress the backlog of birth registrations, through an appointment based system, in line with the timescale committed on the Council website with July births able to be registered from 7 September and August births able to be delivered this coming week from 28 September.  An appointment based system is also in place for the registration of marriage paperwork.  All registration appointments take place in Kirkintilloch Community Hub and are conducted in line with current guidance.  Ceremonies have been reintroduced for marriages and civil partnerships and are being conducted at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been assessed and set up for this purpose in line with current guidance and restrictions.

A recruitment campaign is underway, and has generated a lot of interest, to ensure the team is at full capacity to continue to support customer requirements across the organisation.

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.  Over the past fortnight this has included communications around the inclusion of the East Dunbartonshire Council area in the West of Scotland outbreak restrictions, requiring rapid messaging via the website and social media and the development of a new Local Outbreak web page.  Collaboration continues across West of Scotland authorities to ensure co-ordinated and consistent messaging and through the resilience partnership (WoSRRP) communications group.

Following the announcement this week of Scotland-wide measures  to control the rising spread of Covid-19, a Joint Leaders statement was issued encouraging everyone to play their part in following the measures:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/joint-council-leaders-respond-latest-covid-19-measures

The communications team is supporting the live streaming of public meetings, working closely with Democratic Services and ICT Services to stream meetings, including Planning Board, HSCP Board meetings and Council meetings through the Council’s you tube channel.  Viewing figures show that for the Council meeting on 20 August a total of 196 people viewed the meeting with a maximum of 50 viewing at any one time.  Planning Review Bodies held this month has had 128 people viewing the meeting with a maximum of 31 at any one time (meeting of 2 September) and 65 people viewing with a maximum of 24 at any one time (meeting of 16 September). This evidence suggests that more people are engaging with online meetings when compared to typical levels of public attendance at meetings within the Council Chamber.

Regular updates continue to be provided to the Council website and the website content and structure is being adapted to ensure residents can clearly navigate to the latest updates and guidance in relation to Council services and the national key messages from partners. The Employee Zone of the website is being expanded and developed and support for the regular delivery of internal communications with Organisational Transformation and the issue of Employee News and the reintroduced Depute Chief Executives’ Update are key elements of internal communications. 

Social media messaging continues to be an important tool for informing residents of key Council communications and sharing partner communications.  The Council currently has almost 17,000 Facebook followers and the Facebook page has received 909,000 views so far this month.  The three posts with the highest reach were the recruitment campaign for customer service agents (20,000), conformation that the Planning Application had been lodged for the new ASN school (15,000) and the recruitment campaign for carers (14,000). 

There are 18,000 Twitter followers and 97 tweets have been posted/shared so far in September.  The posts creating the greatest reach were the Joint Leader statement in response to the new national measure (58,000), the NHSGGC video Q&A session for parents with children in schools (37,000) and the HSCP parent group’s video on what to expect when attending your GP surgery (33,500).

The team continues to provide information to and respond to enquiries from national and local broadcast and print media.  To date in September the team have responded to 34 media enquiries and issued 8 media releases.

Corporate Performance & Research

The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues to support data collation and analysis across all Council services and the HSCP social care services to meet continuing national Covid-19 reporting requirements and inform the national position. The national reporting frequency has reduced in some areas as service recovery continues with data continuing to be recorded for local performance indicators and performance reporting. Quality assurance work and data cleansing also continues across the data systems used for reporting returns, with improvements being implemented in key service areas to give better confidence in data returns.    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 and insurance enquiries continue to be responded to.  

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.  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 remains primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance.  The appointment only based approach that has been introduced for the reintroduction of licensing is working effectively.  Applicants for new licences or renewals submit their applications and eligibility criteria digitally, and these are processed linking in with Legal Services.  Once finalised, an appointment an appointment is then required for the final stage of taxi licence applications/renewals for reviewing original supporting documentation and the provision of plates/badges.  With the final extension of licences extended as a result of Covid-19 expiring on 30 September, significant applications/renewals are anticipated this month and resources are being aligned to meet this additional demand.

Registration services (delivered by Assistant Registrars in Customer Services) continue to provide 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase, in line with current guidance on how registrations can be conducted.  Death registrations continue to be delivered remotely by the Assistant Registrars based in Kirkintilloch Community Hub with access to registration stationery for the provision and issue of official certificates and documentation.  The Assistant Registrars are also continuing to progress the backlog of birth registrations, through an appointment based system, in line with the timescale committed on the Council website with July births able to be registered from 7 September and August births able to be delivered this coming week from 28 September.  An appointment based system is also in place for the registration of marriage paperwork.  All registration appointments take place in Kirkintilloch Community Hub and are conducted in line with current guidance.  Ceremonies have been reintroduced for marriages and civil partnerships and are being conducted at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been assessed and set up for this purpose in line with current guidance and restrictions.

A recruitment campaign is underway, and has generated a lot of interest, to ensure the team is at full capacity to continue to support customer requirements across the organisation.

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 General Team continues to process Blue Badge Applications for those customers who are not required to attend a clinic appointment.

The Letting Team has now engaged with the football teams with regard to their requirements and are currently in the process of confirming the bookings ahead of the planned return date on 29 September. Community lets for indoor activities and gatherings in halls and community centres remain suspended due to ongoing restrictions.

The Social Work team continues to provide support to the Service including processing of Homecare; ADRS; Childcare and Adult Referrals; dealing with telephone enquiries as well as arranging and taking minutes of Child Protection Meetings. 

The Transport team continues to arrange all the transport needs for our service users and will start to review the requirements for concessionary school transport.

The EMA team are working to input a large number of EMA applications onto the system in order that school pupils over the age of 16 receive their award as soon as possible and the Social Work Finance Team continue to ensure that care packages are input onto the system so that providers are paid in a timeous fashion.

Revenues & Benefits

The Revenues and Benefits team continue to support unprecedented demand on the vital services we provide to the most vulnerable in our community. The Scottish Welfare Fund, which offers financial assistance to those in crisis, continues to see high volumes of applications as a result of changes introduced by the Scottish Government as part of their Covid-19 response. These changes have presented the team with new challenges to overcome, however, they continue to meet those challenges to ensure everyone who is in need receives the appropriate help on time.

Non Domestic rates continue to see an increase in workload, again as a direct result of changes to help business at this difficult time. The team continue to be involved in the administration of the ‘Business Support Grants’ which has resulted in over 1000 businesses receiving in excess of £12.5 million in support. The Scottish Government introduced ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief’ for rates payers in those sectors and the team have identified eligible businesses and awarded the 100% relief in line with the new legislation. Also, the Scottish Government have instructed all Local Authorities to conduct a review of businesses in receipt of ‘Small Business Bonus’ and so the team are currently working on this with the review set to be underway in October.

Council Tax work is now back to pre-lockdown levels with the restrictions on house moves now lifted. Debt recovery is now fully reinstated with individual client’s circumstances being taken into account when making special arrangements. Benefit work has increased significantly, particularly Council Tax Reduction, as a result of people making new claims for Universal Credit. The team continue to assess and monitor our caseload to ensure those who are in need of help are receiving it. With the introduction of the ‘Self Employed Income Support Scheme’ we wrote to all our self-employed customers to advise them of what help was available and to reassure them that we would be reassessing their claims continually to ensure they receive the level of benefit they are entitled to. This has ultimately resulted in a full review of our Self Employed caseload every 3 months, a task usually undertaken once a year.

ICT

The support teams continue to provide hardware and software support to both corporate and educations users.  This includes providing regular software updates to keep devices safe and secure.  There is still a high focus on ICT development projects to support digital learning within Education.  ICT are working cross-functionally with 3rd parties to enable a safe and secure device environment for Education to issue 1200 devices to pupils to support digital learning.  The ongoing schools device replacement programme will see the replacement of over 600 devices whilst continuing to support and configure devices bought by the individual schools. There is also planned work to improve remote access for the Secondary schools and increase WIFI capacity across the schools estate.  Early Years and other Major Assets projects have resumed and ICT are providing key infrastructure to support the digital requirements of these buildings.

Finance and Audit

The teams have finalised 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.

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 25 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 are engaged in a programme of updating their Business Continuity Plans during September, as part of surge planning.  This is to ensure that lessons learned during the first active phase during March to July 2020 can enhance service response to local/national resurgence. The HSCP’s risk register has also been updated to take account of current business continuity aspects.  Local resilience planning and reporting continues to be undertaken through the HSCP’s fortnightly Local Resilience Management Team.  Virtual management team meetings have also been established and the HSCP Board resumed business from its June 25 meeting, albeit by virtual means, with the most recent meeting being 17 September.

In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, a HSCP Recovery and Transition Plan has been developed and was approved by the HSCP Board on 17 September, supported by tools to assist services and teams.  This work takes account of the likely continuation of business continuity and contingency over an extended period of time, but aims to ensure that these interim arrangements work as well as they can and that services can remobilise wherever possible and safe to do so.  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.  This process provides additional qualitative detail to that which is set out in the business continuity framework.  Service level recovery and transition plans are now in place for all operational HSCP services that assess changes that have been made as part of the HSCP’s response to COVID-19 and to consider the impact on service users, staff, clinicians and partner organisations.  These will be updated iteratively in line with the phased national Route-map and the development of more detailed guidance.  Services have considered whether as they move through and out of the crisis, they should:

  • Restart/Adapt/Retain/Stop the current service models

In addition to service-specific Service Recovery and Transition Plans, there are also a number of cross-cutting issues, such as: congregate services, workplace, governance, public protection and PPE.  These are being taken forward by SMT leads, in conjunction with Council Executive Officers in line with the latest Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance.

A key additional challenge now is planning for the roll out of the annual Flu Vaccination programme, which this year will be available to approximately double the number of people in the community than usual due to a lowering of the age range (c.22000 people).  A plan is now well developed for the delivery of this programme, in conjunction with the Health Board and general practice.

Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it and we have now relocated the PPE Hub from the Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre to space at the Woodlands Centre in Kirkintilloch, in order to allow scope for leisure services to resume in line with agreed plans.

Annual (2019-20) and Quarter 1 (March to June 2020) HSCP performance reports were considered by the HSCP Board at its September meeting, which provides indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19, across HSCP functions and services.

Public Protection

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.  Further correspondence has been issued this week.

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.  The restarting of congregate services will be particularly carefully managed in the context of Covid-19 community transmission levels.

Assessment and Care Management

Social Work assessment and care management referrals reduced sharply during the early stages of lockdown, similar to the reduction in referrals to NHS services.  Referrals are now back to pre-Covid levels and assessment activity is increasing again accordingly. The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services, mostly working from home, with physically distant customer contact wherever possible. 

Contact and Monitoring is being maintained through digital mechanisms and phone calls wherever possible, whilst fulfilling the requirements of statutory orders and public protection requirements, although in line with Scottish Government guidance face to face contacts for the most vulnerable and at risk has been increased.

The Persons at Risk Database (PARD) that was been established to identify HSCP service users requiring ongoing contact during the Covid-19 response time period continues to be actively used. Numbers on the PARD remain static at around 5700 people. Those who do not receive a direct and ongoing care package e.g. home care, are contacted on a frequency that is defined by the assessed level of risk to their welfare and levels of need.

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.

A national report on temporary transfers of older people to care homes will be published next week. This report was commissioned in response to nationally reported concerns about the use of care home places to support freeing up of hospital beds. The report will include data for the local area. 

Support to Home Care

A shared ‘Commitment to Care at Home’ has been developed and signed off through the pan-GG&C Care at Home Group.  The commitment clarifies the shared approaches to maintaining service delivery, support to frontline staff, guidance around the use of PPE, and access to enhanced clinical support and/ or training.  The pan-GG&C Care at Home 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.