PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 April 2021
Assets & Facilities
Gas Safety inspections are now up to date with the previous backlog now cleared. We continue to closely monitor inspections with warrants being sought to access properties as and when required to ensure ongoing compliance across our housing stock.
Progress continues on reducing the number of void properties, we are now close to our target number and we continue to utilise resources to further increase the amount of properties being returned to the letting pool. Improvement measures across the void contract have been implemented and we will continue to look at ways of enhancing service delivery going forward. Emergency and essential reactive repairs are ongoing with the minor works element of the Care & Repair service still on hold at this time. It is expected that the Scottish Government's will further lift restrictions on the 26th April which will enable the recommencement of non-essential works in residential properties and the service are working to establish how the delivery of those works can be safely reintroduced.
Aids & Adaptation works are ongoing and the Smoke and Heat detector installation programme continues across the estate with good progress being made in achieving the Government target date for completion. Heating, Kitchen & Bathroom replacement programmes remain on hold and will restart as soon as is practicable and safe to do so.
Roofing replacement works are progressing well as we continue to work through our replacement programme. Good progress continues in carrying out essential and larger scale refurbishment works across the education and non-housing stock.
We continue to provide assistance in preparation for the upcoming elections with staff in place to cover duties when the election takes place
With the return of all pupils to Secondary, Primary schools and Early Years sites, cleaning and catering staff including day cleaners have returned to normal working arrangements and a hot lunch menu is available daily. Day cleaning interviews are now concluded and the remaining vacant positions have been filled. A further recruitment exercise is underway to fill vacant FM cleaning, catering and Janitorial positions across the Education and Corporate estate, which were unfilled through the previous recruitment exercise.
The implementation of Cashless Catering in Primary schools is complete with twenty eight schools now operating the cashless catering system and the existing cashless system in all Secondary schools and new build Primary schools has been upgraded, completing the full roll out of this project. The pre-order system is operational in Secondary schools which allows pupils to pre-order lunches from mobile phones and view orders and balances. Facilities Management successfully supported Snack n Play across five Primary schools and additional learning in five Secondary schools during the Easter holiday period with the provision of Janitorial, catering and cleaning services. Work is on-going in preparation of the May election with FM providing Janitorial and cleaning support in schools and Corporate premises.
Assets & Estates
Lairdsland Early Years Centre at Southbank is now complete and handover of the building took place over the Easter break. Preparations are now underway here and at Oakburn Early Years Centre for opening to staff and pupils in the coming weeks. Works are now substantially complete at Bearsden Early Years Centre, with completion expected later in April and good progress continues to be made at Boclair Academy and Allander Leisure and Day Care Centre. Contractual terms are almost concluded for the new Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex.
The planning application for the ASN school was approved at Planning Board on 30th March and has been referred to Scottish Government Ministers. Design and cost development remains on-going and a Stage 2 Report for the project is due for consideration by Council in June.
The Estates Management team continues to develop and manage servicing and maintenance contracts across the Estate, with a priority on regulatory compliance and building safety, and this work progresses on a continual basis. The team also continue to deliver a repairs services across the full estate with a current focus on priority issues within the Education estate. In the non-operational (commercial) estate, the team continue to support both new and existing SME businesses with their property requirements, including the renewal of leases, coordinating repairs and sourcing premises.
The Asset Management team continues to deliver a range of capital projects across the property estate. Work remains in progress at Lenzie Academy (3G Pitch Installation) and Hilton Depot (Drying Room / Canteen Refurb) and are now complete at Balmuildy Primary School (classroom sink replacement). Design work is underway to progress various projects within the School Estate Refurbishment Programme.
The team continues to deliver a range of capital projects across the Housing portfolio, including external rendering of properties in Waterside, window replacement and electrical rewire to void properties. Preparations are underway to re-commence kitchens and bathroom installations later in 2021 with colleagues in Property Maintenance when safe and appropriate to do so, roof replacement to mixed tenure properties and external wall insulation. This will be subject to the lifting of construction industry restrictions which currently prohibit non-emergency works within houses but which is expected to be lifted from the 26th April.
Housing New Build
Construction continues to progress well at the former TJ House site, Kirkintilloch and is now underway at the former Lairdsland Primary School site , Kirkintilloch (anticipated completion Feb 2023) and Blackthorn Grove, Lenzie (anticipated completion December 2021).
The revised Strategic Housing Investment Plan (2021-26) and the Affordable Housing Investment Programme (2021-26) were both approved by Council at the budget meeting in February and various work streams continue to deliver against these strategic priorities for the service.
Homelessness & Prevention
Homelessness presentations continue to be low; 8 new homelessness applications have been taken since the start of the financial year. The Out of hours service has been quieter; only 4 calls since the start of the financial year has been received. The backlog of homelessness applicants awaiting an offer is significantly lower in comparison to figures in the previous 5 years. There are currently 280 homelessness applicants on the homelessness list; 53 of which are under offer, leaving 227 applicants awaiting an offer of permanent accommodation.
There are a number of rooms available within emergency accommodation (First Stop), no households are using B&B and 34 temporary accommodation flats are voids. Of the 34 temporary accommodation voids, 4 are surplus to requirement at this time and will be returned to general mainstream stock, being offered to applicants on the homelessness list. The Team has also supported another 3 households to move to settled accommodation in the private sector.
The Housing Operations Team continues to work closely with Property Maintenance (PM) with the aim of reducing the back-log of void properties. Since the start of this calendar year a total of 94 new tenancies have been created. Void levels with PM have reduced from around 140 in October 20 to 35 on-going voids at this time. The team also continues to work closely with Housing Associations (HAs) in the area to provide nominations for their voids and new build properties in this sector. As a result of the nominations agreements in place, 17 applicants from the Council's housing list have accepted tenancies with HAs in the area since January 2021.
The team continues to work jointly with Legal Services, Police Scotland and the Community Safety Team to deal with anti-social behaviour and noise complaints of a more serious nature within each of the housing localities.
The Rents Team continue to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support is being offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic or they are struggling to pay their rent. There are still tenants who do not pay and/or engage. The service has been issuing arrears letters since late 2020 and has restarted serving Notices of Proceedings in an attempt to get responses from tenants who are not paying. There are no current court actions for rent arrears taking place as Coronavirus (Scotland) Act regulations has banned evictions and is now being reviewed every 21 days by the Scottish Government. The rents team continue to support and assist as many tenants as they can with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also referring to CAB, where appropriate, to ensure that income is maximised. Year end rent arrears were £1,152,187 (week 2).
The latest issue of Taking Part newsletter was issued to tenants at the start of April and work has begun on the next issue. The next online TPWG meeting will be held on Thursday 22 April 2021.
Systems and Policy
This Team is still working through year end returns - the ARC is due for submission to the Scottish Government at the end of May and each indicator is being checked to ensure that the service returns are on target for this date.
Team is working through Pentana to ensure all statistics are up to date for year end to allow the service to complete HGIOS on time. The Local Housing Strategy is also due for review this year and team is working with procurement to put in place a mini competition to bring in additional external support.
Land Planning & Development
Planning Applications and Building Standards
The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible. In accordance with the relevant risk assessment planning and enforcement site visits are continuing to take place under the current local and national restrictions. Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible. Similar to Planning, site visits are continuing to take place in accordance with the relevant risk assessment for those properties and sites only where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate.
Monthly updates are now to be provided to the Scottish Government Building Standards Division to help monitor performance of Building Standards at a national level.
Both the Planning Applications and Building Standards teams continues to receive the number of applications expected by this point in the financial year.
Following the outcome of the Full Council meeting on the 30th March officers have now notified Scottish Ministers of the decision to support approval of the Additional Support Needs School at Waterside Road in Kirkintilloch.
Once Scottish Ministers have been notified they have 28 days to decide whether to call-in the application or return it to the planning authority for their own decision. Scottish Ministers can extend the 28 day period for as long as it takes them to reach a decision on whether to call-in an application.
Officers are currently preparing Reports for the forthcoming Planning Board meeting on the 25th May.
Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS
The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council and consultation took place between October 2020 and 15 January 2021. Over 2000 representations have been received and acknowledged and officers are nearing completion of analysis and drafting of the Council’s response. A Local Development Plan Working Party is being held on 28 April 2021 to provide detailed updates. Officers are also working on planning guidance, the historic environment designations review, which is currently being consulted on following a LDP Working Party, and site specific projects such as Kirkintilloch Gateway.
The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan was reported to Council on 1 October 2020. The Plan draws together actions across the Council and those being progressed by economic partners as part of delivery of Local Outcome 1. It is a live document, reflecting the ongoing nature of the public health and economic crisis. Consultation took place in November 2020 and the findings and ongoing data analysis have been used to update the Economic Recovery Plan. Following approval promotion of the Plan will be undertaken. Work has commenced on initial project planning for a Circular Economy Strategy.
A Draft Parking Management Plan has been produced by officers and it will be discussed at the Transport Working Groupon 22 April 2021. Work has commenced on initial project planning for the next Active Travel Strategy and engagement to take place from May 2021. This will also be considered at the Transport Working Group. These are two of a number of actions in the Local Transport Strategy, approved in March 2020, which is currently being progressed by the Land Planning Policy Team in conjunction with other Services.
Initial work on the preparation of a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the Council is now under way. The first stage of this is an early engagement exercise - the ‘Climate Conversation’. This invites people across our communities to join online events to discuss their concerns about climate change, how it is already affecting them, and the action they think the Council needs to take to respond to the climate challenge. A number of surveys are available online, tailored to communities and individuals; businesses; young people; and Council staff, to gather views on how the CAP should address climate change and inform its development. The Climate Conversation webpages went live on 8th March and the consultation will close on 2nd May. The main webpage can be found at www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/CAP.
Consultation on the draft Glasgow City Region Climate Adaptation Strategy, prepared by Climate Ready Clyde in partnership with East Dunbartonshire Council and other partners, closed on December 24th. The Strategy is now being finalised and an Action Plan prepared. This will be presented to Glasgow City Region Cabinet for agreement in June, and will also be reported to a future PNCA Committee or Council meeting for endorsement.
Work is commencing on a new Greenspace Strategy for the Council, to replace the existing Open Space and Green Network Strategies and will be prepared in the context of the Glasgow City Region Green Network Blueprint. An audit of our open spaces has been completed and early engagement to inform the development of the draft Strategy is scheduled to take place in June. A report on the Greenspace Strategy will be presented to PNCA Committee in May.
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.
Work progresses well for a number of key projects that the GIS team are leading on and supporting. The team has recently completed over 800 assessments of safe walking routes for school placement requests. The team are also collaborating with Glasgow City Council, the Digital Office and the NHS to create a Covid-19 case tracker. This will show real time cases of Covid-19, recorded by the NHS within the East Dunbartonshire boundary. The team are also planning a programme of work that will ensure the accuracy of address data with the Scottish Assessors Association and other key stakeholders. This is to support the issuing and recording of postal ballot votes for the upcoming May elections. The GIS Team is working to assist the ongoing Climate Conversation which is ongoing in order to allow responses to be recorded. Finally, the team is continuing to liaise with the Planning, Building Standards and Validation officers to ensure that any issues with the IDOX application are resolved swiftly. Recruitment is underway to fill a vacant post within the team.
The City Deal core team is now fully resourced with 3 dedicated Officers and a Team Leader. Additional resource across the Council is being put in place to progress the projects. Officers continue to engage with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC and First Bus.
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: programming of the individual projects and work relating to the OBC and work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval). Consultants have been appointed to undertake work on the Bishopbriggs Public Realm Plan and have now completed initial desktop research and site visits. Stage 2 of their programme includes agreement on initial engagement arrangements. More details will be provided to members in due course.
Regeneration & Town Centres
The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October 2020. The design for phase 2 of the Milngavie Public Realm project has been completed so now Milngavie BID with support from the team are procuring their contractor to undertake the improvements which are expected to take place during the summer. The team have secured £1.1m of Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the Twechar Canalside project and the budget has just received a further boost with the team successfully applying for £100,000 from Sports Scotland. The Regent Gardens project is being progressed, working closely with the local community council preparing draft designs for consultation which will run from late April into May. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required and an update will be presented to an upcoming PNCA Committee. RTC, Land Planning Policy and landowners have recently started working together to create a masterplan for the Kirkintilloch Business Gateway site in step with the LDP2 process. The aim is to create a coherent deliverable vision for the area which will encourage development in line with Council policies and strategies Unfortunately the Kirkintilloch Canal Festival has been cancelled for another year but the team are looking into the possibility of smaller-scale events in local communities - if and when they are permissible under the safety guidance.
The full range of support services and grants available and administered by the Council continues to be updated on the Council’s webpage here: https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/business/business-support-during-coronavirus-emergency.
As mandated by the Scottish Government, the Strategic Framework Business Fund closed to new applications at 5pm on Monday 22 March 2021. You had to apply to the Strategic Framework Business Fund before 5 February 2021 to - potentially - be eligible for Top-Up Funding. As per Scottish Government instructions, the Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support fund also closed to new applications on 25 March 2021.
Restart grants have now been calculated and issued for payment covering almost 500 businesses. The Discretionary Fund is now closed and final applications as well as appeals are being reviewed. The teams across the Council have, over the last 12 months, now administered over £21m in financial support to local businesses.
The Council’s Business support during the coronavirus emergency webpage continues to be kept up to date. Due to the number of grants and volume, officers across the Place & Business Service, and other areas are supporting the grants schemes. The Business Support Team continue to experience high volumes and calls and e-mail enquiries.
Traffic and Transport
The team has been successful in external funding bids from Transport Scotland, SPT and Paths for All, with over £1.5m of funding confirmed for 2021/22. We await confirmation of other funds up to an additional £0.6m.
Installation of seven Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) units are ongoing on Milngavie Road, Bearsden, as well as three replacement shelters. The rollout of RTPI will continue into Milngavie Town Centre as part of the 2021/22 Capital Programme.
With the increase in cycling throughout 2020 schools are seeing a huge rise in need for cycle and scooter parking. The team has installed additional shelters at six schools and the team’s iBike Officers are working with colleagues in Outdoor Education on the roll out of led rides and led walks.
Design work continues on the Canniesburn Toll Improvement Project which aims to improve the function of Toll for pedestrians and cyclists making travelling by these modes safer in the immediate vicinity of this roundabout. The project also aims to improve the flow of traffic and reduce journey times with the introduction of traffic signals. Draft designs will be issued for information to the local community and businesses in May 2021.
The team continue to work on the A803 Signal Optimisation Project funded by the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund (BPRDF).
Mavis Valley Recycling Centre
The household waste recycling centre remains open and operational at this time however the site continues to experience significant pressure as customers continue to queue for long periods in order to access the recycling centre. The site was required to close early on Friday 19th April following a minor Road Traffic accident, however the site was reopened again the following morning. Police Scotland briefly instructed the councils Traffic Management contractor to stop Managing traffic on the main Balmuildy Road however later requested that this be reinstated in order to alleviate the congestion.
Following the further easing of travel restrictions and lockdown measures and in discussion with Staff and trade union colleagues, it is our intention that the Household Waste recycling centre will move to summer opening hours from Monday 26th April. Traffic Management will remain at the entrance to the facility, in order to assist with the flow of traffic along Balmuildy Road and it is anticipated that the extended operating hours will improve congestion and vehicle turnaround times on site. The summer opening hours are highlighted as follows
Mavis Valley - Site Opening Hours Monday - Friday 0800 – 1930 Saturday - Sunday 0900 - 1830
The Waste Service has continued to deliver all services over the last fortnight with demands increasing in line with the seasonal pressure and improved weather conditions.
Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection
Collections are operating normally for residents with recycling tonnage remaining consistent in line with previous updates.
Green Waste Collection
The Garden Waste Service is operating in line with the routine fortnightly intervals with a significant upturn in demand.
Bulky Collections (Special Uplifts)
The Waste team continue to deliver the Special uplift service with requests for this service remaining high. The increase in numbers has led to some delays for customers however the team is monitoring resources in order to keep up with demand.
The service continues to work through requests for replacement bins as resources allow with a significant upturn in demand for replacement bins across a number of areas. In line with previous commitments, priority is given to residual bin deliveries however the team continue to work through all requests as resources allow.
The service continues to manage the legal operation of the Councils fleet including compliance with the Goods Vehicle Operators licence, Drivers hours’ management and maintenance regimes. Officers continue to progress work on the fleet replacement Capital Programme for the coming financial year. Work is progressing through procurement for tenders and orders for new vehicles due for delivery in through 2021/2022 financial year. The team continue to progress the de-fleet and disposal of outgoing fleet assets in line with the replacement programme.
The service is working with colleagues from the Council’s vaccination and testing group to develop options for future testing including potential mobile and portable facilities with the necessary fleet support.
The fleet workshops based at the Hilton depot continue to service and maintain all front line Operational fleet vehicles and plant on a rotational shift basis. The service is currently working to meet significant demands for ongoing maintenance and remedial works in support of front line operations. The team continue to prioritise all work based on available staff and the greatest needs in order to deliver through these challenging times.
The team continue to support colleagues in Education, HSCP and Facilities Management for Transport activities associated with ASN School Transport, day services and meal deliveries across the Authority. The team also continue to manage vehicle and plant hire activities which have increased significantly over the year, as a consequence of revised working arrangements for services, in delivering through the pandemic response.
Place and Community Planning
Environmental Health Team
The national vaccination programme and current lockdown has seen community transmission of Covid-19 decline over recent successive weeks. For Environmental Health however, all associated work continues to create a significant additional demand for Environmental Health Officers. The team are working with Education colleagues to deliver contact tracing within schools in liaison with health board colleagues through local Problem Assessment Groups (PAG’s) and Incident Management Teams (IMT’s). We are also being advised of clusters within occupational settings that require to be investigated to ensure the adequate mitigation measures are being put in place by businesses to prevent virus transmission. To this end, the service takes part in additional meetings with Health Board colleagues to agree investigation plans.
The area is due to move to Level 3 of the tiered strategy within The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations on Monday 26 April. This means that hospitality premises (both indoor and outdoor), leisure centres and a wide range of non-essential shops and services will reopen and travel restrictions will be lifted. Environmental Health will be at hand to respond to increasing enquiries and engage with hospitality businesses. Programmes of visits to monitor compliance and mitigation measures will also be delivered with assistance being provided by the new Public Health Compliance Officers.
Other routine service requests such as food complaints continue to be received. The team are sampling foods from local businesses to assist in national monitoring surveys to ensure safety, composition and labelling requirements are adhered to. The importance of food safety and food standards compliance continues to be significant during the course of a wider public health pandemic.
Away from business regulation, officers continue to deal with other environmental regulation and public health in terms of Air Quality, Contaminated Land and numerous noise, odour, smoke, housing and dampness service complaints. The team are also assessing relevant incoming planning applications and providing comment for planning colleagues on environmental public health considerations to be accounted for.
The EU Exit Deal and its implications continue to be monitored, as there are implications to the import and export of food products. Food Standards Scotland has given advance notice of the expectation for the Official Food Control Recovery Plan to be implemented by Councils. This is likely to generate very significant extra work over coming months with the presumption that inspection programmes can begin again in autumn.
Trading Standards Team
On 5 April 2021 the reopening of a number of retail businesses was permitted, including barbers and hairdressers premises (by appointment at a specific time), garden centres, showrooms, homeware, baby equipment, electrical repair, key cutting and mobility product shops. All other businesses were allowed to operate a click and collect service.
The re-opening of hairdressers and barbers led to a significant increase in workload for Trading Standards team, including dealing with business advice requests and complaints. The requirement to operate an appointment system with customers being given a specific time was not the usual operating model for most barbers. Advice on operating an appointment system; the wearing of face coverings and the restriction on treatments being performed that requires the face covering to be removed, such as beard trimming, was supplied to the sector. Follow up visits were carried out with officers from Police Scotland in the Bearsden and Milngavie area following complaints from local residents and traders, and similar joint follow up visits to some problematic premises in Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs are also planned for coming days.
From 26 April 2021 all other retail premises and mobile services re-open, working in people’s homes will be able to resume, and gyms and swimming pools will reopen for individual exercise. Driving lessons and tests will resume and libraries, museums and galleries will be able to re-open. With the reopening of most retail and leisure, it is anticipated that there will be a significant increase in workload for the team.
Trading Standards Officers continue to provide individually tailored advice and guidance to all non-food businesses on the emergency health protection Covid-19 Regulations and Scottish Government guidance. Since the restrictions came into place the Trading Standards team have dealt with over 450 complaints and business advice requests on Covid-19 related matters and have also delivered over 1800 interventions under the emergency Regulations.
Further, there has been an increase in the workload in the areas of scam prevention, product safety, fair trading, metrology and petroleum. Unfortunately there has been surge in the number of Coronavirus scams circulating via email, Facebook and text messages. These scams are wide ranging and some examples include advising you are a priority group due to family genetics or that you need to confirm your NHS vaccine appointment, all of which involve clicking on a link which then asks for a payment and/or personal details. Working with the Corporate Communications team Trading Standards are posting regular warnings on social media to alert residents.
Having now exited the EU, Trading Standards are also receiving a number of enquiries in relation to the legislative changes that are relevant in terms of their remit. Officers continue to receive training in relation to the wide range of changes that have resulted from the withdrawal agreement, with areas such as fair trading, e-commerce, metrology, product safety, animal health, and cross-border matters all being the focus of on-going e-learning sessions.
The Team's Fair Trading Officers have continued to provide advice to consumers and traders in relation to contractual disputes. Many of these instances have arisen as a consequence of the coronavirus restrictions impacting on performance of contracts, particularly home improvement complaints. The current situation presents additional challenges when mediating between businesses and consumers to satisfactorily resolve complaints.
The Team's Licensing Adviser continues to deal with routine licensing consultations, complaints and enquiries. In addition, a large number of occasional licence applications are currently being handled in light of the impending reopening of the hospitality sector on 26 April.
Community Safety Team
The Community Safety Team continues to deliver a broad range of work within our local communities. Service delivery activities have been tailored and prioritised to coincide with the requirements of the Covid-19 restrictions which are currently in place across East Dunbartonshire.
Investigation of instances of fly-tipping continue 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. Throughout the course of the pandemic the team has deployed a number of mobile CCTV cameras in known fly-tipping hotspots for the purposes of helping to tackle this on-going problematic issue. Additional camera deployment has been somewhat restricted in the last few months owing to recent lock down measures, but further new deployment should now be feasible in the coming weeks in order to assist with offence detection and support the valuable enforcement work being carried out by the Community Safety Officers in relation to fly-tipping issues.
Control of Dog matters continue to be investigated and an essential pest control service has also been delivered for residents on an on-going basis since the start of the original lock down in March 2020. In terms of pest control, a number permanent bait visits have also recently been recommenced and carried out in instances where they have been necessary to support the Council's on-going public health response in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic (e.g. at the mass vaccination centres in Kirkintilloch and Milngavie).
For Community Wardens on-street enforcement for parking offences recommenced in the middle of August 2020. Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced 14 September 2020. During the current period of Covid-19 restrictions, the focus for the Community Wardens in relation to Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) has largely been centred upon our town centre areas, but due to increasing complaints about parking issues at a number of our Primary Schools the team will be continuing to ensure that patrols are carried out at these locations during drop off and pick up times over the next few months. Four new Parking Wardens have also recently joined the team to assist with DPE activity.
Essential patrols in relation to environmental incivility breaches as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in and around identified issue areas have also continued. Complaints in relation to the issue of dog fouling have increased significantly in a number of areas throughout ED over recent months and an increased number of targeted patrols (including plain clothes patrols) have therefore been delivered in these areas in order to tackle the problem and Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued to a number of offenders.
The team continues to provide a remote service in terms of neighbour complaints/disputes, providing advice by phone and email and liaising regularly with colleagues in other services including Housing, Social Work and Police Scotland. As part of this the team will continue to carry out antisocial behaviour visits in the most serious of cases in order to tackle the significant increase in the number of complaints that have been received in recent months - however, alternatives means are still being utilised wherever possible with face to face visits only being carried out where absolutely essential.
The Grant Advisory Committee met in March and CPP Board approval provided for Round 2 of the Community Grants. The successful applicants and groups have been informed and provided with the money for their community benefit projects, totally £40,000.
Officers continue to develop actions relating to outcomes in our Local Outcomes Improvement Plan (LOIP), via online engagement with community groups and partners / individuals during lockdown. EDVA also works in the community and has strong links. The Council continues to develop the Place plans for Auchinairn; Lennoxtown; Twechar; and, Hillhead and Harestanes. These are due to be reviewed in line with statutory guidance and to reflect changed circumstances due to the pandemic.
In line with revised guidance for CLD planning in 2020 and further to the requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013, Council Officers are developing a plan for Community Leaning and Development for 2021-24. The Community Learning and Development Partnership is meeting (online) and the group is collating data on evidence of need in order to formulate themes for the next three-year plan. Emerging priorities include combatting isolation, developing green spaces and financial / digital inclusion for priority groups.
Our Resettlement Officer continues to offer full-time support to our resettlement families e.g. providing access to essential services.
In line with statutory guidance officers are working on the update to the Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report for 2021-2025. As per the mandatory requirements issued to public bodies under the BSL Scotland Act 2015, EDC have produced a British Sign Language Plan with an update required in October 2021.
Preparation is underway for a Best Value Audit that will include Community Planning and currently working with colleagues and partners to record case studies and information for the interviews and the focus groups anticipated to be part of the BV process.
Roads and Environment
ROADS TECHNICAL AND ENGINEERING
- Allander Bridge No.1 Glasgow Road, Milngavie. Glasgow Road closed on 12 February following inspection by structures staff. The bridge abutment has been washed away, and a void has formed behind this, putting the water mains at risk. Support to water mains now in place and work on concrete support to section of damaged abutment completed Friday 2 April. Reinstatement of damaged section of bridge abutment now progressing. Scoured area of bed to be reinstated.
- Continuing with General Inspections, and reviewing Principal Inspection programme. Work is ongoing re the inspections of bridges over rail, officers conclude the completion of the BAPA (Basic Asset Protection Agreement) with Network Rail.
- Officers are working to develop a new/replacement Structures framework contract.
Drainage and Flood Prevention
- Bencloich Road, Lennoxtown - Works completed, however landscaping of 1 metre section of open strip is required.
- Glazert River bank collapse - temporary remedial action is required to make safe the collapsed banking area including the existing Strathkelvin Path which is at risk. We have approached SEPA for technical support and the licence that will be required for temporary works
- Glazert River Restoration Project - After site investigation works concluded there were no major concerns, SEPA have agreed to progress the project to detail design stage.
- CCTV addressing some localised drainage issues.
- Scoring capital projects for coming year.
- Attending sites to ensure compliance with construction consent approval.
- The road works register is being updated as works progress or not.
- Public Utility companies have been written to explaining that the Service will charge them for inspections from this year onwards.
- David McKenzie, who has been with the Council since 2011, is leaving to work on other projects. The post is to be advertised.
- Assisting with the design and implementation of an average speed camera system on Auchinairn Road.
- Ongoing procurement of a traffic survey contract, lining contract and accident analysis software.
- Regular liaison with Police Scotland Traffic Management department.
- Continuing with identifying and refurbishment of lining/signing on the road network, continuing to respond to Legal Services on licensing applications and processing dropped kerb and disabled bay applications.
- Responding to customer services on applications for occasional licences for Beer Gardens.
- Responding to requests for observations on planning applications.
- Caroline Hay, who has been with the Council since 2004, is leaving to take up a Road Safety Education post with Transport Scotland. The post is to be advertised.
ROADS NETWORK OPERATIONS
In line with current restrictions the Roads Network Team will continue, on a rota basis, to carry out essential road safety repairs where social distancing can be maintained. The Operations Team resources have been prioritised to the repair of road defects reported over the last few weeks to ensure the safe use of the network and are currently undertaking the following operations
- Road Defect repairs;
- Routine Gully Cleaning
- Road Marking/Relining Operation
- Street Lighting Repairs
- Marshalling at the various Vaccination Centres
- 24 hour emergency response to Network issues
- Footway/Verge maintenance along Duntocher Road and Balmore Road to provide additional space for walkers
- Installation of new boundary fence along Milngavie Road
The Roads Network Team has reviewed and agreed all Risk Assessment for Roads related tasks with the Health and Safety Team in response to Government guidance and are amending our Safe Working Practises with the any additional control measures identified in this process. Working with the Trade Unions we are now undertaking structural patching operations combined with the installation of speed humps on Maxwell Avenue, Bearsden. These works will be completed over the next few weeks and will allow the Operations team to undertake further planned patching activities over the coming months.
Through the use of external contractors we have completed the carriageway and footway resurfacing to Collylinn Road, Eskdale Road, Tay Road and South Erskine Park. Works commenced to resurface Townhead and Parliament Road, Kirkintilloch on 19th April with works expected to be completed by 9th May.
Technical and Inspection Team
- Inspectors continue to complete our statutory safety inspections
- Process of Roads Permits applications
- Monitoring and Inspection of Utility operations
- Response to customer enquiries and reported network issues
- Asset updates and national asset management returns
- Preparation of tender documents assist in completion of capital programme
- Continue to process planning applications
- Inspection of new development street lighting installation
- Advanced capital designs for new street lighting installation prior to a return to these activities
- Inventory updates on the lighting management system
- 24 hour response to electrical defects on the lighting network
In addition all team members participated in the successful delivery of our winter maintenance programme over the winter period. With the increased temperatures our winter maintenance operations have now ceased and will be reviewed over the summer period ahead of the next winter period in October 2021.
- Street cleaning operations
- Clearing of bring sites and response to increased level of fly tipping
- Graffiti clearing
- Herbicide treatment
- Play area inspections and repairs
- Football pitch maintenance and inspection, lining of school athletic tracks
- Grass cutting initiated in parks and open spaces, including schools, football pitches, cemetery grounds and housing estates.
- Culvert grill inspections and removal of rubble/debris
- Assisting cemetery operations
- Preparation of planters and shrub beds in advance of 6th May election at polling stations.
- Covid signage posted at entrances to all play parks.
Streetscene Technical Support
- Public consultation for Bishopbriggs Park, Meadowburn North and Westerton Play area expected to go live next week.
- Fruit trees planted at Westerton Park and Cairnhill Woods by Countryside Rangers
- Pitches verti draining commenced.
- Team responding to significant volume of tree and open space enquiries and correspondence with local communities.
- Cairnhill and Kilmardinny Loch path upgrades complete. Additional phases being prepared.
- Site visit to Mosshead Play Park to discuss ground investigation and CCTV work on drainage system, in response to complaints received. Drainage clearance in Kilmardinny Loch LNR to be undertaken, and currently being procured.
- Campsie Church Cemetery wall repairs being procured.
MUGDOCK COUNTRY PARK
- Good weather, school holidays and easing of restrictions has brought many visitors to the Park with additional pressures on parking, toilets and path network;
- Scottish Water work at Drumclog close to completion with car park partially opened;
- East car park sign knocked down and has been replaced;
- Some unauthorised entrance to the quarry with fencing being cut and trampled;
- Work almost completed on Bandstand steps and paths in Walled Garden;
- Preparation taking place for visitor centre opening 26 April as well as the Mugdock Makkers Arts & Crafts Gallery;
- Stables Tearoom, Charlie's Coffee Bar and Caulders are continuing to serve take away but anticipating some indoor seating in line with Scottish Government levels;
- Play park fencing and replacement equipment to be completed;
- Move to online shopping and booking progressing
EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 April 2021
All schools reopened for all pupils, except those who are shielded, after the Easter break on 19 April. Revised guidance has been issued by Scottish Government and this has removed the requirement for physical distancing in secondary schools. Clear guidance has been provided to staff to ensure mitigation measures are in place.
As previously detailed, secondary schools are under considerable pressure due to the requirements of the Alternative Certification Model which replaces the examinations for the National Qualifications. Teachers are working to gather assessment to build on the evidence that schools already have of pupils’ demonstrated attainment. There are clear requirements by the SQA and schools and the local authority require to have a robust moderation and quality assurance processes. All schools have put an assessment calendar in place as the assessments have to be done under controlled conditions. There will be communication with pupils and parents to ensure that they have information on the assessment arrangements. Considerable support is being provided by the Quality Improvement Team to schools both in regard to quality assurance and moderation and managing workload. There are two additional in-service days, in line with Scottish Government advice; these are on Friday 7 May and Tuesday 1 June as well as the in-service day on Thursday 6 May.
The Early Years’ Team continue to work towards the implementation of the expansion of early learning and childcare. The new centre at Oakburn some minor issues to be addressed before it can open for children. The centre at Lairdsland was handed over to the Council and staff are working to get the centre ready to open for children.
The Snack and Play programme for Easter was delivered in conjunction with EDLCT. The Holiday Playscheme in Merkland for children with additional support needs also took place over the Easter holiday. An evaluation of both playschemes will take place to inform future provision.
The Education Service is carrying out an extensive self-evaluation exercise to inform recovery planning both in schools and within the local authority. Schools and early years centres will be supported, through Learning Partnership Groups, to evaluate the impact on children’s wellbeing and attainment. Across the authority a review of provision for care experienced children, mental health, additional support needs, nurture and parenting and family learning will take place. This will inform strategic planning and ensure focused deployment of the additional resources provided to support recovery.
The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services with significant workstreams around major assets, City Deal, Property Maintenance contracts and other needs across services such as Education, Housing, Business & Digital Change Projects, and Roads. Renewal and award of various contracts continue with various key ICT system requirements being progressed at this time.
The team continues to monitor supply chains for PPE stocks and other critical supplies. The operating arrangements and support to services have been updated for all services to ensure sufficient supplies and emergency procedures where required. PPE demand is monitored from the Stores location, and is managed/facilitated by the Procurement team. Work is currently in progress to prepare for election PPE stocks and purchases, and the re-opening of day care services.
Procurement are also currently supporting key work streams, these include Mass Vaccinations, Scottish Parliament Election, City Deal, the new Integrated Housing Management System, Transport Service arrangements, Remote Digital Solutions for Education and Supplier/Partner provider support in line with COSLA guidance. Care at Home and Supported Living Contract renewals have been instructed to support the Commissioning team and HSCP. Contract Standing Orders are currently being reviewed in alignment to the Council Administrative Scheme update.
Business Grants, School Clothing Grants, Education Trip repayments, Early Years grants, Care providers additional funding requests continue to be processed via the Procurement Support team to support Scottish Government payment requirements. Prioritised processes for invoices and grant payments are currently in progress and resources aligned to support the increased demand on the Service.
The team continues to process Free School Meal Payments for the period of School closures and are supporting ongoing applications in line with Scottish Government Guidance. Spring Hardship Payment (£100 per eligible child) and Free School Meal Payment at £4/day were paid on the 1st April 2021. (£144/eligible child) in line with legislative timescales. Financial tracking of costs for Free School Meals, Hardship and Isolation Payments is ongoing, and associated Grant claims to Scottish Government are being monitored.
Additional specialist workstreams from City Deal and increased payment requirements from Business Grants, had informed resourcing with additional recruitment required. A Procurement Project Lead for City Deal and Payment Support Assistants have recently been appointed.
Health & Safety
The Health and Safety team continues to prioritise areas for support based on identified requirements and prioritisation across all Council, EDLCT and HSCP services.
Support and advice continues to be provided to:
- Education with updated COVID-19 guidelines for level 3, updating and reviewing measures in place as well as outbreak case management alongside Environmental Health and Education officers.
- various services such Legal and Democratic services in the run up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, its arrangements, risk assessments and supporting procurement in the selection of items required for safe elections.
- Waste and Roads to address H&S requirements for upcoming operations.
- develop and carry out Covid-19 training for all services and specific training for Roads, Property Maintenance and HSCP.
- HSCP Adult services in the preparations for re-start of services.
- the Asymptomatic Testing Site with participation in ‘train the trainer’ programme with the British Army to support ongoing delivery and future requirements.
Health and Safety team continues to develop and carry out training for duty holders. Fire safety training and Toolbox talks coverage and scope continues to grow as training needs are recognised throughout services.
The Team continues to engage with our Health Surveillance providers and the management of the health surveillance records. It continues to support on site clinics. Review of vibration work equipment is being organised with tool tags for all vibration tools across services. Individual vibration risk assessments are being progressed with the review of HAVS REACTEC system to improve recording.
The team has attended sites to support Assets & Estates and contractors relating to statutory Health & Safety requirements and has continued to carry out Fire risk assessments of all operational and non-operational buildings.
Health and Safety inbox queries, accident and incident recording and RIDDOR, investigations, task based and DSE risk assessments continue to support all services throughout the council. The team continues to work alongside HR with Individual Risk Assessments and support at meetings to assist in the return to work of staff in vulnerable categories.
Social Work Commissioning Team
Planning & Development team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations to ensure services continue, resume safely, remain flexible and responsive to changing needs and are sustainable in the longer term.
The team has an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Adult Services Oversight Group which meets daily. The group has responsibility for providing assurance across key service areas including care homes, care at home, supported living and day care. Planning & Development responsibilities includes monitoring (daily analysis/reporting, service & financial monitoring, compliance, risk management) and supporting providers/market management/facilitation. Monitoring the impact of C-19 vaccination and weekly testing across care homes, community based services and the recently introduced testing across non-registered services remains a priority for Planning & Development.
Planning & Development continues to support the closure of Campsie Neuro care home and is liaising with providers and commissioners to identify suitable alternative placements for local residents who require 24hr support with accommodation.
Planning & Development monitors providers Business Continuity Plans and intervenes if/where required to help mitigate service continuity risks. Provider’s business continuity plans are reviewed and updated regularly, and aligned to the HSCP’s overarching Business Continuity Plan. The HSCP’s Local Resilience Management Team (LRMT) meets fortnightly to review resilience planning, surveillance and reporting across all HSCP / commissioned services
Assurance visits to care homes are now complete with very few recommendations and/or compliance issues arising. Any issues that were highlighted have been progressed with individual care homes.
Planning & Development continues to support Social Care Sustainability Payments & Care Home Occupancy payments for providers who, as a direct result of Covid-19, have incurred additional costs relating to infection control, PPE and/or losses due to reduced occupancy. The HSCP and Council convened a Governance Panel last week to consider and approve the latest round of claims that will captured within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan. Sustainability payments have been extended to 30th June 2021, subject to the Scottish Government’s & Cosla’s review and update .
Scotland Excel’s National Flexible Framework for care and support services is now live and Planning & Development is liaising with providers to support the mobilisation of services and to help address any outstanding issues or concerns. Going forward, the team will monitor the performance and compliance of providers on the framework
Planning & Development is currently implementing the Scottish Living Wage across care sectors. The Scottish Government recently announced an uplift of 2.2% across the market with the exception of older people care homes which has been awarded 7.5% in recognition of the increasing cost of providing care - particularly for people with dementia and underpinning requirement to pay all care staff a minimum of £9.50 per hour.
Human Resources & Organisational Development
Following announcement by the Scottish Government (SG) that all Health and Social Care workers will receive a ‘£500 Thank You’, the HR&OD team have been working through the guidance in the context of the HSCP. Trades Union engagement, communications and leadership updates have been completed, with payments being processed in the May payroll for eligible employees.
Trades Unions engagement continues on a weekly basis and has been focused on strategic issues such as election planning, targeted vaccination updates, workforce vaccine programme, weekly testing processes as well as risk assessment and required actions to respond to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. Planning is progressing for the implementation of Services reviews within the Business Partner and Job Evaluation teams.
Engagement continues with Managers on the support for Individual Risk Assessments and Occupational Health Assessments based on updated regulations and Scottish Government advice. This has been a particular focus with the reopening of schools.
The HR Operations team continues to work on concluding discipline and grievance cases as timely as possible whilst always ensuring early intervention and informal resolution principles apply.
Absence analysis and support continues with priority focus within HSCP. Detailed scrutiny of the absence performance across all services continues with engagement taking place to understand required support and actions for improvement. The team continues to receive daily calls on COVID reporting for various circumstances. The implementation of a 7 day cover rota remains in place. Advice and guidance to employees and managers on COVID related issues and absences continue to be supported by the HR & OD teams.
Work continues to enhance the Employee Zone pages with updates and additions to the Wellbeing page to reflect Healthy Working Lives campaigns going forward.
Work continues to provide support and advice in relation to resourcing and recruitment campaign as well as safe recruitment practices during this time. Work in on-going in relation to the implementation and roll of revised contract templates and streamlining of process in line with the Good Work Plan requirements.
Key statutory training is being scoped out and delivered and work has commenced in relation to reviewing the Council’s e-learning platform. Moving and Handling (M&H) training is a key requirement within HSCP. A number of employees from across HSCP, Health and Safety, and People Development are participating in a ‘train the trainer’ programme for M&H. This will allow for broadening delivery capacity.
Business & Digital Change Team
The Business & Digital Change Team continues to lead the delivery of a range of multi-disciplinary projects across the Council.
Phase 2 of our Smart Working M365 project has now commenced. We have engaged a Microsoft Gold Partner to support the Council in developing our Smart Working capability. This phase of the project will focus on our business and technical readiness and will be concluded by June 2021.
New eforms are continually being developed to meet demand. The latest addition is a Council Tax Discount/Exemption form which is due to go live over the next week.
Work is progressing to finalise the requirements specification for the new Housing Management solution to replace Saffron Housing. The Invitation to Tender remains on track to be published by the end of April 2021.
Work continues in the delivery of new solutions for the replacement of legacy Education systems with a wide range of new solutions being developed to allow the delivery of essential functions across the Education sector.
The Business Systems team has completed the first phase of Elections software upgrades enabling the postal voting approval process to begin this week. End of year reporting has also been completed enabling services to submit performance stats for external auditors. The team also continue to support ongoing Transformation projects and ensure Business Systems remain available and promptly respond to system incidents.
The team continue to lead the administration of the Temporary Restrictions Fund with Round 3 opening to new applications from 7th April. The team administered a total of 8 applications to date with a cumulative total of £25,925 to childcare providers across East Dunbartonshire.
Legal and 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 as previously reported.
In addition to the above, work is continuing on support for the most recent recurrence of COVID. Regular meetings are taking place both locally and at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at current issues and also future planning e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary.
The Team continues to lead in planning and oversight of the Council’s involvement for both mass vaccinations and community testing within East Dunbartonshire. Members will recall that both centres (Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre and Allander Leisure Centre were structured to allow both the hours of operation and number of vaccinators to be scaled up as required. Activity slowed slightly over the last couple of weeks due to vaccine supply, however new schedules show this increasing again over the coming weeks and the centres will be closer to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week operation, at least until the middle of May. Whilst it is likely that volume and hours will ebb and flow as new cohorts are introduced and supplies increase, it is anticipated that commencement second jags will see the Centres running at close to capacity for several weeks. Discussions with colleagues in NHS GG&C and other local authorities continue to take place in order that centres are able to provide vaccinations as planned and the EDLCT workforce continues to provide excellent support to the clinical operation, in a manner which is flexible and responds to the ever changing supply chain. Feedback from attendees continues to be positive and colleagues in the Leisure Trust are managing the throughput of vaccines efficiently and without any significant queues or delays. The latest roadmap for easing restrictions is such that work has been undertaken develop dual operation arrangements and so some leisure services are set to recommence in tandem with the centres continuing to operate as vaccination clinics. These arrangements have been the subject of rigorous risk assessments
Similarly, the Team is leading on planning for community asymptomatic testing across East Dunbartonshire. This is where the Council is required to set up a testing facility in communities where there is a significant spike in infection rates and/or where there are persistently higher than average rates. These centres will be used to test those who are asymptomatic and are intended to identify where individuals have COVID-19 in order that they can quickly self-isolate and contact tracing can be triggered. Members will be aware that an ATS has been established at the Auchinairn Community & Early Years Centre. This site has seen a reasonable footfall to date. The MACA, which resulted in military support, has now ended and we are being assisted by colleagues from NHS GG&C in staffing the centre at present. Planning for the medium to longer term is in hand and Members will be updated once this is developed further. At present, officers are looking at options for an alternative venue so that the community centre will be available to the community as lockdown restrictions ease. Officers are also developing plans for both a mobile and portable solution which will enable reater access and a speedy response in the event of an outbreak or concerns around transmission rates in any part of East Dunbartonshire. In addition to regular comms, the Team is liaising with colleagues in Community Planning & Place to engage with local community groups and also colleagues in Education with a view to encouraging testing via the various local schools.
In the last few week, the team has been engaging with Scottish Government in relation to the identification of sites for walk in symptomatic testing in East Dunbartonshire. These discussions are ongoing and a potential site has been identified within Milngavie. A site visit is taking place next week and a separate Technical Note will be issued thereafter detailing proposed venues and the manner in which the facilities will operate.
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 continues to be supported by colleagues in Legal Services and significant progress has been made to address the backlog of birth registrations. In addition, the Team is feeding into discussions at a regional and national level, which seek to embed some aspects of the move to remote/online registration where possible and practical to do so. The Team continues to monitor the national position and infection rates so that additional resources can be deployed if necessary and plans for cover over the holidays are being finalised.
Wedding and Civil Partnership ceremonies continue to take place at 21 Southbank Road for now. In addition, the Team continues to closely monitor the ever developing situation around restrictions and what they mean for ceremonies and receptions. This will be continuously under review in light of changing restrictions. Between 7 April – 22 April 34 Births, 63 deaths and 8 Civil Marriages were registered by Customer Services. Enquiries and bookings for weddings and civil partnerships over the summer months are increasing.
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 and will continue to do so as more services are “switched back on”, and restrictions are eased. On top of the above, there are other emerging civil contingency concerns in relation to which the Team continues to participate in various local and regional awareness and planning meetings including the review of strategic infrastructure and fulfilment of the “All Risks” approach to the various concurrent risks across the country.
Preparations for the Scottish Parliament Election scheduled for May 2021 are continuing. This planning requires additional attention as a “COVID-lens” is applied to conventional election workstreams on a local and national basis. Preparations are developing on a “safety first” approach so as to ensure the safety of all involved (staff, candidates and voters) and to provide assurance that the arrangements are safe for all. A communications plan is being developed and other additional briefings are planned for both staff and prospective candidates. The layout of all polling places has been reviewed and the arrangements for counting votes are progressing. A small multi service team continues to work on the detailed planning. 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 have been subject to robust risk assessments in order to protect employees, voters and candidates. On 9th April a Candidates and Agents briefing session took place and focussed on arrangements for the safety of the election and those participating, along with details of the nomination process. A further couple of briefings have been scheduled for 4th May. These are for the polling and counting agents who will be working for candidates and are intended to set our the various arrangements and safety measures in place for polling places and the Count. Over the last couple of weeks the Team has met with the Electoral Commission and a group electoral observers. The purpose of these meetings was to talk through the Council’s arrangements and safety measures.
The Team has moved into the Election Office which for the duration of this campaign will be based on the top floor at Southbank House. In addition, postal votes are now being opened and verified at Southbank House. These offices are not open to the public and access is restricted to those working on the election and those entitled to attend postal vote verification. Strict access control arrangements are in place to ensure security and also protect those working on site.
In terms of the election timetable to date, then the key milestones are as follows:-
- Postal Vote Opening will commence week beginning 19 April
- Candidates Teams Briefing – 4th May
- Polling Day – 6th May
- Constituency Count – 7th May @ 10am
- Regional List Count – 8th May @ 9am
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 remains busy with print activity in support of schools and Committee cycles. In addition to the foregoing, the Team is working with in relation to the classification and preservation of information generated by the Council’s response to the COVID pandemic
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.Legal Services
Legal Services continue to guide Major Assets in the negotiation and conclusion of the Council’s capital projects and agreements have now been signed in respect of Allander and Boclair Academy with negotiations well underway for the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Hub project, including the complex leasing structure that underpins the project. Due to the nature of these contracts (in terms of complexity, scale and value) these are particularly time and resource intensive. Separately, whilst full details of the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU upon labour, materials and exchange rates emerge, delicate drafting is required to future-proof the Council’s interests in these projects. In tandem with this, the team is also guiding the Housing Service in respect of delivery of its many capital projects and in the recommencement of open market purchases and shared equity buy-backs to increase the provision of affordable housing within East Dunbartonshire.
The team is also assisting with the initial contracts required for the City Region City Deal project with the recruitment of a team to support this well underway.
Further resource continues to be dedicated to interpreting, assessing and, where necessary, protecting the Council from the impact of the pandemic and the EU exit on its legal interests. In tandem with this the team endeavours to ensure that any potential benefits to the Council are optimised. One particularly busy area of work continues to be in relation to the many grant offers which the Council is receiving. Each grant comes with its own terms and conditions which the team assesses and then advises the relevant service in relation to any potential risks or performance/reporting requirements. This work can often be challenging - whilst the terms and conditions are not overly complex, the volume and increasingly short turnaround times within which the grant has to be accepted in order for the Council to access funds can at times impact on other work.
The team also works closely with the procurement team in ensuring procurement processes are complying with the changing law in this area and that the flexibilities offered by Government guidance are appropriately used. This also involves the drafting and documentation of contracts with suppliers of goods, works and services to the Council and the contractual clauses on the risk to the delivery of contracts caused by Covid-19 and the EU exit have to be tailored to fit the individual nature and circumstances of each contract. At the moment the team is assisting with some urgent procurements which have some complicated features and, as such, need detailed legal advice to ensure compliance and minimisation of risk.
The team is also playing a key role in the project team appointed to deliver a new Integrated Housing Management System for the Housing Service. The market for such systems is such that procurement of this project is complex and requires a high degree of legal project management and support. Coupled with this is the drafting and negotiation of bespoke IT terms and conditions to ensure that the system delivers as required.
The team negotiates, drafts and concludes the majority of contracts that the Council enters into for supplies, goods and services. A particular highlight at the moment is the contract for the new Committee Management system.
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 commercial position. The team has also been involved in many data sharing and IT agreements, including licences to other partnering local authorities in respect of applications developed by the ICT team for education purposes.
In respect of litigation, at present the team is usually representing the Council’s interests by way of virtual hearings. There are, however, some matters which necessitate team members physically appearing in court. Current ongoing actions in court relate to housing, social work, licensing and employment matters. The team also 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. This is the first compulsory purchase order that has been promoted by the Council in some time and the team, having limited previous experience of the process, is navigating it ably.
A significant amount of work is dedicated to the running of quasi judicial boards. In conjunction with colleagues in Democratic Services, virtual meetings of the Planning Local Review Body, the Licensing Boards and the Civic Government Appeals Board are now talking place, albeit that some are temporarily paused. However, during this period the team is still busy with dealing with applications, renewals and queries from application/agents. Liquor licensing is particular busy at the moment in light of the forthcoming easing of restrictions on hospitality and the increase in demand for outside areas where alcohol can be consumed. Despite the pause in meetings, meetings of the Special Civic Government Appeals Board, the Planning Local Review Body and the Licensing Board have all taken place in recent weeks to deal with pressing business.
Both Legal & Democratic Services were heavily involved in the Pre Determination Hearing and special meeting of Council which recently took place. The team are now involved in moving this project forward and dealing with any residual legal issues.
In anticipation of the forthcoming relaxation of restrictions the Team is reviewing previous arrangements for licensed premises to ensure that these are up to date and reflect any changes. This work will be carried out in conjunction with colleagues in Environmental Health, Customer Services and Planning and will ensure that up to date advice is available to the licensed trade. Importantly, procedures will be as pragmatic as possible so as to facilitate reopening, whilst still ensuring public safety. In addition, procedures to support the processing of public entertainment licensing are also under review.
The team continues to provide close support to colleagues in social work in respect of sensitive and important matters involving children, families and vulnerable adults some of which are particularly pressing at the current time. These often require court appearances with very short notice. The number of referrals and matters requiring legal support has significantly increased during the pandemic and is requiring increased support from the Litigation & Licensing Team. In addition, the Service has supported social work colleagues in collating and assessing information in respect of a major Inquiry.
The team is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of the initial lockdown and other matters which have arisen since. There is, however, one complex and important heritable court matter that is being allowed to proceed due to its serious nature and the team are acting on the Council’s behalf to ensure the best outcome for the many different parties involved.
In addition to the above, the Team is now turning attention to this year’s placing requests. Members will be aware that the Council normally receives a significant number of placing request appeals which result in several weeks of Appeal Hearings. This is time consuming and labour-intensive for both the Litigation & Licensing Team and also the Democratic Team Accordingly, the Team, along with colleagues in Democratic Services are liaising with Education to agree a time line and process for dealing with these appeals.
The team is also representing the Council’s interests in respect of various employment issues, including disputes that have made their way to tribunal.
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.
As always and due to the nature of the work of the team, there are many matters which the team is working on which are confidential and sensitive and further detailed information cannot be given on these.
Resources in Legal Services have been depleted recently and the sharp increase in demand for its services has put significant pressure on the team. In addition to existing projects, the team will be required to support the delivery of the City Region City Deal project. This has necessitated investment in the team in the form of a substantial recruitment exercise to fill a variety of new and existing roles. That process is well underway and the first three new members of the team have now joined, including a new Team Leader for the Litigation and Licensing team, with others to join in the coming weeks. The intention is that by mid -Summer 2021 the team will be much better resourced to be able to continue to support the Council through the projects and challenges which lie ahead.
Customer and Business Support Services
Corporate Performance & Research
A key focus currently is supporting year end performance reporting for 2020/21 across all Executive Officer portfolios, the HSCP and EDLC Trust. Timescales have been agreed for these to be considered at the Council meeting on 17 June ahead of recess. Work is also progressing on the review of corporate performance, expanding and developing the corporate performance aspirations highlighted in the strategic review of strategic planning and performance that was considered by Council on 17 December, and reinforced in the Council Budget papers on 25 February. The annual refresh of the Area Profile and the Performance Guidance documentation is also now underway.
The Corporate Performance & Research Team also continues to support data collation and quality assurance for performance reporting including the preparation and submission of statutory returns and local performance indicators as well as wider data analysis across Council services and HSCP social care services and ongoing reporting requirements. The team supports the response to FOIs across the social care service, and volumes of these have increased in recent months. Quality assurance improvement and data cleansing activity is ongoing to ensure accurate data and confidence in data returns.
Communications & Engagement
The Communications Team continues to provide 24/7 communications support for emergencies and essential out of hours messaging. Communications support and advice is provided across all Council services the East Dunbartonshire HSCP and EDLC Trust to ensure customers are aware of service delivery arrangements, highlighting changes if required across all channels to ensure maximum reach of message. Internal communications continue to focus on ensuring the workforce is aware of the latest Public Health and Scottish Government guidance and the continuing review of risk assessments and workplace Covid-19 measures to ensure the safety of all employees.
The website continues to be updated daily and new pages created to meet service and messaging requirements, in line with latest guidance and Covid-19 support initiatives. The new page for the publication of Technical Notes on the Council website is now live.
Delivery of the Scottish Parliamentary Election communication plan continues as well as the development of arrangements for media attendance at the counts and arrangements for the publication of results once declared. The focus moves from advising about postal votes to reassuring people of the safety of the poll in relation to Covid-19 mitigation measures. A suite of signage has been prepared for Polling Places and the Count Venue to advise all those attending of the measures in place.
https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/council-democracy/elections-and-voting/scottish-parliamentary-elections-2021. This week the team has created a video on polling to reinforce the measures in pace to ensure that our Polling Places are safe. You can watch the video on the election page of the website or on the Council’s social media channels.
The Employee Zone, which can be accessed by all Council employees whether they are office-based or on the frontline, continues to be regularly updated with key information, including Health and Safety updates and Wellbeing support. The April programme of Healthy Working Lives initiatives has been published to this section.
Communications support for community asymptomatic testing centre in Auchinairn continues. In addition to the dedicated community testing webpage with a ‘what to expect’ video, promotional materials have been updated to advise that the centre has been extended to the wider Bishopbriggs area. Further messaging in relation to the centre will be issued ahead of the full time return to school on 19 April and as further outdoor activities are permitted. Information and flyers have been provided for distribution to hairdressers and barbers in the area now that these too have reopened for business. Information has also been collated on all the support available should an individual or someone in their household test positive. An exit survey has been established and to date, all respondents are continuing to confirm that they find the testing centre extremely safe with clear messaging on the process.
In the past fortnight, a total of 13 media enquiries were received and responded to on deadline, and 5 media releases have been issued, resulting in positive coverage online and print media for the Council. Media releases over the past fortnight, in addition to those around polling on 6 May, have included: The death of HRH the Duke Of Edinburgh, the launch of the Community Renewal Fund, the Canal Festival Update and the Connect and Collect library service news. All media releases are available in the News Section of the Council website. Social Media messaging remains a key focus and effective channel for engaging with East Dunbartonshire communities with a total of 193 posts this fortnight. On twitter there were 89 posts in the last period with a reach of 1.79 million, and there are currently 18.833k followers of the Council Twitter account. The highest reaching posts on twitter this past fortnight were in relation to Mavis Valley recycling Centre, the sad death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and the wild flower planting in Kirkintilloch. Top Twitter Posts for interaction:
On Facebook there were 104 posts this fortnight with a 429.9k reach over the past fortnight and the number of Facebook fans that like the Council page has is 17,786k, with 19.788k following the page. The highest reaching post was on 17 April in relation to queues at Mavis Valley recycling Centre with a reach of almost 17.5k. The top posts for interaction are in the table below and the top three were the wild flower planting near Oxgang Primary and Kirkintilloch High School, the announcement on the Canal Festival not running for 2021 and the queues forming at the Recycling Centre.
Top Facebook Posts for interactions:
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 continues to respond to changing priorities and fluctuating numbers of daily enquiries, predominantly in response to local and national measures in relation to Covid-19 including vaccination and testing and also in relation to support grants and applications for these.
Call volumes remain stable with peaks being seen in relation to queues at Mavis Valley Recycling Centre and in relation to changes in restrictions and how this might impact services. Calls in relation to vaccination are being signposted to the national helpline, NHS Inform and the dedicated Council webpage with details on transport and travel to centres. Customer service resources continue to be deployed flexibly across the channels with greatest demand and call waiting times are continually monitored.
Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance. A strict appointment-only based approach remains in place for the necessary face to face elements required for licensing applications at Bearsden Community Hub, which continues to work effectively for the final checking of original documents ahead of issuing of plates/licences. Registration services (delivered by Customer Services Agents/Assistant Registrars) continue to provide 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase, in line with current guidance. Death registrations are delivered remotely through telephone appointments from Kirkintilloch Community Hub where documentation can be issued. Birth registrations are being undertaken in real time with a preliminary telephone appointment prior to a face to face appointment for the final stage and signing of the register. A strict appointment system also remains in place for marriage paperwork submission. Ceremonies are being delivered at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been risk assessed and appropriately signed for those attending. Ceremonies are in strict compliance with current stay at home guidance and maximum numbers permitted. Guidance and advice for ceremonies is provided in line with current guidance and the road map out of lockdown.
The School Support Co-ordinators continue to support the primary, nursery and education units with the return of pupils and teachers to schools. They are continuing to support the schools through the transition from SEEMIS finance codes effective from 1 April 2021, ensuring purchases are correctly coded and helping the schools to manage their budgets. Our Homecare and Residential Teams are busy making end of year changes including uplifting rates for the new financial year. They continue to process paperwork for all services for the more vulnerable people within EDC to ensure providers receive their payments at the new rates. The Transport Team are collating paperwork for Round 2 of the tendering process while waiting for the conclusion of the Round 1 process on Public Contracts Scotland website. The team are ensuring that all mainstream transport is in place for schools returning full time after the Easter break.
The Early Years team, in conjunction with the Business and Digital Change Team, continue the preparations for the new SEEMS Early Years system. The remainder of the Education team are progressing the allocation process for placing requests, with outcomes due to be issued by 5th May. The General Team continues to support the Test & Protect Service through the National Assistance Helpline and providing resources to the Scottish Welfare Fund team. The Letting Team are working with stakeholders to restart lets in line with the different levels of the Scottish Government COVID Route Map in anticipation of finalised dates for each level. The team are examining the implications for Blue Badge processes due to the introduction of the new Scottish benefits system. The Social Work team continues to process all referrals for social work, including Homecare.
Revenues and Benefits
The Scottish Welfare Fund is still experiencing much higher demands than normal, while we have seen a reduction in Self-Isolation Support Grant applications, Crisis grants remain at higher levels then pre-pandemic. Community Care Grants have started to increase as housing rental market activity rises.
Non Domestic rates casework remains higher than normal due to effects of the pandemic on businesses. The annual rates bills were issued on 13 April which led to an increase in Retail Hospitality and Leisure applications, and a number of general enquiries to be answered. The team are preparing a list of all reliefs to comply with the Scottish Government requirement to publish these on our website by 1st July 2021. The team continue to work with our colleagues in Business Gateway on the various Scottish Government grants to support businesses during the pandemic.
The Benefits team continue to see higher than normal applications, particularly for Council Tax Reduction, however, the team continue to meet performance targets through effective resource planning.
We have received the initial Scottish Government guidance on the new pandemic support payments announced in the 2021/22 Scottish Budget. This impacts both Council Tax and Benefits and involves considerable administration within the revenues team to process payments by October 2021. Around 4,500 Council Tax first reminders were issued last week and we are currently responding to enquiries around these. We continue to review discounts and exemptions for council tax which requires customers to confirm their circumstances and provide up to date evidence to support any claims.
The Infrastructure Team continues to support the major assets programme and various transformation projects across the Council. The team have completed all requests for laptop and chromebook devices for pupils issuing 407 laptops, 1244 Chromebooks and 272 Mifi devices. Work Continues on fulfilling the iPad requests, which are being impacted due to the supply chain shortage of devices.
The team are supporting the reorganisation of office layouts at the KHCC to accommodate the return of staff while maintaining social distancing. The team have completed the upgrade of 25 school kitchen phones from direct exchange phones and lines to Cisco IP Phones, saving circa £4000 per annum on line rentals. The team have also been updating various systems and servers to the latest operating system releases to maintain compliance with cyber security standards.
The Support Team continue to provide support across the Education and Corporate estates working to agreed SLAs. During the Easter break the team replaced a number of older devices across various schools as part of the preparation for the full time return of pupils. The team are preparing for the annual Public Services Network security compliance process which is due for completion by the end of August 2021. The team continue to support the deployment of Windows updates to all users across the estate.
Finance and Audit
Work continues on a number of business as usual activities as previously reported to Elected Members. These efforts continuing throughout our teams. Significant work is ongoing to support payments, new grants and systems developments to support the ongoing Council efforts. Work is now concentrating on year-end routines, reporting and external audit.
The Council’s Chief Finance Officers continues to support the coordination of the ongoing Best Value Audit due for reporting later in the financial year. Meetings with Officers have now been concluded with Political Engagement occurring at the time of writing. More detailed work is being planned within Community Planning and Partnerships with this being the residual area not previously covered with External Auditors as part of their more recent Annual Audit Reports. This work is being planned for the next fortnight.
The Finance Team continues to engage with services to track the impact of Service arrangements and the attributable costs of Covid; this work is being finalised for reporting at the year end. This work will inform future discussions about services with new announcement on funding occurring on a regular basis. Otherwise the process of business grants administrations continues to be challenging to manage with new forms of funding requiring administration and the development of guidance. This continues to increase the workload of all supporting teams with enhanced financial monitoring being required. With work ongoing in relation to a number of additional grants it will be necessary for the Council’s internal audit team to validate and consult on new control processes.
The Council’s Chief Finance Officer continues to work with COSLA and the Directors of Finance to represent the best interests of Local Government and the Council as efforts increasingly turn to budget setting and year end outturn. Work is also ongoing to review the requirements, guidance and notifications required to put in place a number of additional fiscal flexibilities to assist the Council as part of its future financial planning. The team is actively working with COSLA to inform the Scottish Government budget process making representations in a number of core areas for future funding including new Human Rights Legislation.
The team continues to work on maintaining and improving the Council's financial systems and controls, including alterations required to the Oracle ledger system and preparations for the financial year end. The team continue to provide support the discharging of 5,106 grants to businesses totalling £21.873 million and reclaiming that from the Scottish Government. Current VAT issues including adapting the Council's VAT return to meet HMRC's requirements under Making Tax Digital and the construction reverse charge have been implemented. The scale and timing of developments in these areas ensure that the work of the team to support other teams in the Council continues at pace.
The compliance and systems team continues to work with the Business and Digital change team to improve the Council's income systems to provide a better service to customers and to secure the Council's income streams against the effects of Covid. The team continues to ensure all income transactions and the school meals payments are ledgered timeously and assist other services as required.
The team continue to support the development of expenditure expectations in relation to Covid and tracking the various income streams to establish whether this funding is additional to support the anticipated financial gap or in the form of a grant to offset new, additional and required expenditure. This is being constantly reviewed and will be required for year end analysis and reporting. This work has now been consolidated into a single tracker and circulated to Executive Officers to ensure good governance and to aid reporting. The team is working towards the financial year end and starting to review Election costs.
The Teams is also supporting the development of solutions to manage Seemis retirement of budgeting functions for schools. This is a technically challenging task lead by Organisational Transformation teams.
Treasury, Capital & Housing
The team continues to track current restrictions on the Council’s cash flow including the impact of any intended borrowing decisions with Capital works remaining slower than planned. The treasury team continue to monitor cash flow closely due to the increased financial transactions due to Covid ensuring that there is liquidity for all Council activities. This including putting in place the new controls and procedures for paying the daily isolation grants and also the opening of our new bank account to enable enhanced cashless catering processes at our schools. The team are engaging with Treasury advisors to determine the impact of potential fiscal flexibilities and the application of these in future years.
The Capital & Housing Team have now completed all P10 monitoring , the Capital provisional outturn and auctioning the financial year end tasks.
Internal Audit and Fraud
Internal Audit have continued to work on planned audits including VAT, Corporate Health and Safety, Buildings Regulatory Compliance, the Highways Code, and School Funds (Education). Follow up work on previously raised internal audit findings continues on a limited basis, focusing primarily on high risk issues at present. The Team also continues to provide advice in relation to new or revised processes such as the SEEMIS processes.
In addition, Internal Audit has continued to provide a business grants appeals service including reviewing appeals from some businesses whose applications for the Strategic Framework Business Fund were rejected. The majority of these appeals are from businesses that are affected directly or indirectly by the current restrictions. However, as their business types were not listed in legislation as being required to close under Tier 4 or as a hospitality business to modify their services under Tier 3 through early closure or by ceasing to serve alcohol they are not entitled to this grant. The Council has no discretion regarding the eligibility criteria and must apply the Scottish Government's guidance in this regard. Of the 45 appeals received for this fund, the rejection has been upheld for 42, whilst three were passed back to the Business Support Team for further assessment. The Internal Audit Team has also commenced providing an appeals process for Discretionary Grants. 19 appeals have been received and the original decision to reject has been upheld in 18 cases to date as the applications were deemed to have been assessed in accordance with the Council's criteria and guidance. One case is on hold pending receipt of further information which has been requested from the applicant. The volume of appeals coming through to the team has reduced over the last fortnight, enabling a refocus on business as usual audit work.
The Corporate Fraud Team is continuing to focus on vetting applications received for business grants and school places. Corporate Fraud also continues to review and investigate National Fraud Initiative data matches. The Team has continued assessing the matches and commencing investigations, focussing on the high priority matches and those that are most likely to yield results. Further data matches, relating to Covid Business Grants distributed in the year, are expected by the end of April. The team is also working with Corporate Health and Safety to perform risk assessments for the resumption of face to face work, which will allow the progression of cases which are currently limited through desk based working.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 April 2021
HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning
All departmental and overarching Business Continuity Plans continue to be in place. A Covid-19 annex to the HSCP Business Continuity Plan provides more detailed information on essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements, arrangements to support and sustain commissioned services, arrangement for sustaining staff capacity and communications. These business continuity frameworks will continue to be updated in response to presenting and projected pressures and developing guidance. Virtual management team meetings are also well established. In response to Scottish Government correspondence on the matter, the HSCP Board has established temporary revisions to normal business processes from its meeting on 21 January, in order to reduce the duration of meetings, with a sharpened focus.
Performance and activity reports continue to be prepared for consideration by the HSCP Board as normal. These provide indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19 across HSCP functions and services, as well as reporting on normal business activity and performance. A Quarter 3 performance (Sept to Dec 2020) report was considered by the HSCP Board at its meeting on 25 March 2021.
In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, an HSCP Transition and Recovery Plan has also been developed, with a focus on service remobilisation wherever safe and possible to do so. This will be updated iteratively in line with Scotland’s updated routemap. The HSCP is also linking with the Council and NHSGGC on ensuring consistent decision-making and communication on service prioritisation and transition planning. Some business continuity response and tracking arrangements have now been de-escalated to partial standby during April in order to re-direct resources to recovery planning, including the HSCP’s Local Response Management Team meetings with the proviso that these arrangements may be re-escalate immediately if necessary.
The HSCP has completed round 2 of vaccination for care home residents, covering both older people’s homes and services for adults. The vaccination programme has been highly successful and uptake has been excellent. Work has now concluded on round 2 of the vaccination programme to the GP/HSCP priority groups, including use of Kirkintilloch Town Hall and Milngavie Town Hall. Housebound appointments also continue to be offered where identified as required by a GP. Vaccination opportunities also continue to be offered to all health and social care staff, and those in supporting roles, who are front facing, or in a priority group in line with Scottish Government guidance. This includes Personal Assistants employed through a self-directed support option. Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it.
Public protection work, which includes child and adult protection, drug and alcohol services, metal health, and a range of justice services, continues to be prioritised.
The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) continues but has returned to a frequency closer to normal levels. The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued, bus as with the COG meetings, has reduced frequency. This ensures ongoing management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection, in a manageable manner.
Practices and processes for protection functions are updated in line with revised national guidance and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. A specific public protection covid-19 risk register has also been developed to support ongoing work. Items of concern are noted and escalated to COG. Work will now commence to bring local child protection guidance and practice in line with a refreshed national approach.
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. Building based day and respite services are now resuming, or have already resumed, working on a revised and much reduced capacity basis, including Kelvinbank Resource Centre. The service has been working to provide alternative forms of support where possible.
A fortnightly business continuity report is prepared to highlight delivery status across all HSCP essential services, staff availability levels and operational team contingency arrangements.
Assessment and Care Management
Social Work assessment and care management referrals which had reduced sharply during the early stages of the pandemic have now returned to and in most cases exceeded pre-pandemic levels with notable upturns in drug and alcohol, mental health, community care and community nursing service requirements. Numbers of East Dunbartonshire residents going to and being admitted to hospital are currently high with a resulting pressure around people’s whose discharge from hospital is delayed. 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 remains fairly static at close to 6000. Those who do not receive a direct and ongoing care package e.g. home care, are contacted on a frequency that is defined by the assessed level of risk to their welfare and levels of need.
All of the Council’s in-house social care services continue to operate. Our day services are operating on a very limited basis only, for a small number of individuals with particularly complex needs. The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis. The oversight of all day services, including those delivered by 3rd and independent sector partners is monitored via the HSCP Registered Care Services Oversight Group which has input from public health and the Care Inspectorate.
Joint working with trade union colleagues has been very positive in responding to issues on the ground.
The ED Interim CO continues to lead pan NHSGGC on shared work on care at home and day care services
Testing for Social Care Staff
Covid testing has now been rolled out to a wide range of health and social care staff groups and personal assistants. This has been a fast moving agenda since the turn of the year and presents a range of logistical challenges but to date these have been able to be resolved and the process is operating effectively. The most recent additions to the testing programme have been services delivered in the community that are not registered care services such as day activities for people with mental health support needs and learning disabilities. This enables a greater number of people to access support.
Support to Care Homes
A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP is routinely provided 5 days a week and over the weekend where this is required. In line with Scottish Government requirements the HSCP has in place a regular safety ‘huddle’ to oversee the position of each local care home. Following publication of the national social care winter plan this group’s remit has expanded to cover all registered care services as described above, with an action plan in place to take forward these provisions. Scottish Government have confirmed that the additional scrutiny and assurance is required to remain in place until March 2022.
Processes for regular staff testing and enhanced outbreak testing of residents where required are well established. At the time of writing two homes in the area had had positive staff member tests and were taking additional precautionary measures but no residents have been directly affected so far. Indoor visiting in care homes began to be reintroduced from early March and as of the 16 April six people from six different households are permitted to visit a resident outdoors, as long as the care home area is in level 3 or lower as per Scottish Government rating, and the home has no outbreak.
The information contained in the National Records of Scotland (NRS) report on covid care home deaths was published by the BBC on the 19 April. Ten care homes in the area are named with one standing out as having been significantly impacted in comparison to others. Work is underway within the service to map deaths, to outbreaks, to different stages in the pandemic, with associated different guidance. This will assist in understanding the local picture and seeking to identify any learning opportunities that we were not already aware of. A link to the data is here and it is publicly available via the BBC article interactive dashboard
The process for the close down of Campsie Neurological Unit and relocation of its residents continues. A number of residents have already relocated to a new care setting and the programme of transition will continue up to the planned closure date of 26 May 2021.
Support to Home Care
The Care at Home service continues to be increasingly busy, with a noticeable trend towards referrals for more complex and staff intensive care support. Challenges of caring for Covid-positive customers has been a feature recently but all required PPE and support for safe use of this continues to be in place. Weekly testing for our care at home workforce is in place.
The HSCP Board (IJB) has agreed for the HSCP Strategic Plan 2018-21 to be rolled forward for an additional 12 months, with the addition of Covid-19 critical response, transition and recovery to be added as an additional strategic priority for 2021-22. This arrangement was agreed with the Scottish Government through the provisions of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. A review of the 2018-21 Strategic Plan has been completed and preparatory work has now commenced on the new substantive HSCP Strategic Plan 2022-25.