PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 26 March 2021
Assets & Facilities
With the return of all pupils to Primary schools and Early Years sites, cleaning and catering staff including day cleaners have returned to normal working arrangements. With additional pupils attending Secondary schools, cleaning staff have returned to normal working arrangements and catering staff continue to working on a rotational basis providing hot lunches. Day cleaning interviews now concluded and the remaining vacant positions have been filled. An additional recruitment exercise is underway to fill vacant FM cleaning, catering and Janitorial positions across the Education and Corporate estate. The implementation of Cashless Catering in Primary schools is complete with twenty eight schools now operating the cashless catering system. The next stage of this project is to upgrade the existing cashless catering system in all Secondary schools and new build Primary schools, this is underway and will be completed by the end March 2021. The pre-order system is operational in Secondary schools which allows pupils to pre-order lunches from mobile phones and view orders and balance. Preparation is underway to support Snack n Play which will operate across five Primary schools during the Easter holiday period. Facilities Management will support the delivery of this project with the provision of Janitorial, catering and cleaning services.
We continue to make good progress in reducing the backlog of Gas Safety inspections most of which are a result of the current pandemic. The courts have issued all warrants to access properties which are overdue on their inspections and we have achieved a significant reduction in these numbers over the past few weeks. We have now reached the stage where we are confident of having all properties brought up to date and compliant by the end of March.
Significant progress has been made on reducing the number of void properties over the past few weeks with further progress being made on introducing measures to reduce turnaround times. Improvement measures across the void contract will be implemented over the coming weeks as we look to enhance service delivery going forward. We continue to carry out emergency and essential reactive repairs with the minor works element of the Care & Repair service still on hold at this time.
Completion of Aids & Adaptation works have increased recently 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. Kitchen, Bathroom and Heating replacement programmes remain on hold and will restart as soon as is practicable and safe to do so.
Roofing work is ongoing as we continue to work through the replacement programme. Excellent progress is being made in carrying out essential and larger scale refurbishment works across the education and non housing stock.
Necessary works associated with the upcoming elections will be ongoing and we will continue to provide assistance where required during this period.
Assets & Estates
The refurbishment of Southbank House and KHCC is now complete. Lairdsland Early Years Centre at Southbank is substantially complete and handover of the building is expected imminently. Works remain on-going at Bearsden Early Years Centre, with completion expected over the next month 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 is currently under consideration and will be determined via Planning Board on 30th March. Design and cost development remains on-going and a Stage 2 Report for the project is due for consideration by Council around June.
The Estates Management team continue 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 continue 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 Balmuildy Primary School (classroom sink replacement). Design work is underway to progress various projects within the School Estate Refurbishment Programme.
The team continue 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.
Housing New Build
Construction continues to progress well at the former TJH site, Kirkintilloch. Contractual terms are agreed for the development of new affordable housing at the former Lairdsland Primary School site , Kirkintilloch (due to commence April 2021 - Feb 2023); Blackthorn Grove, Lenzie (due to commence April 2021 - December 2021) and the Loaning, Kirkintilloch (dates TBC).
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
The Homelessness & Prevention Team continue to work remotely; interviews are being carried out over the telephone and/or by videolink. Numbers remain relatively low. In the past 2 weeks the homelessness team has interviewed 18 households; 12 of which have made a homelessness application. Out of hours service has been quieter; during March received 14 calls (306 year to date).
There is currently one household (with children) in Bed & Breakfast, however family will be moved to temporary accommodation this week after beds have been delivered. There are 3 rooms available in first stop for emergency situations and the team is working alongside the voids team to progress 30 temporary accommodation properties awaiting void works, electrical checks and restocks. All properties have been pre-allocated and when ready households will be booked in.
There has been an increase in antisocial behaviour complaints against tenants in temporary accommodation. Housing Officers have been working alongside key partner agencies/services to resolve these matters and several households have been reminded of their tenancy agreement, respect for others and current COVID19 restrictions currently in place.
In the next few weeks the Team will be working on end of year updates/stats.
Team continues to work closely with Property Maintenance, aiming to reduce the back-log of void properties as quickly as possible, with a total of 194 new tenancies created this financial year, 45 of which are new build properties. The team also continues to work with Housing Associations in the area to provide nominations for void and new build properties in this sector. As a result of nominations agreements in place, 55 applicants from the Council's housing list have accepted tenancies with Housing Associations in the area.
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.
Team continues to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support is offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic or are struggling to pay their rent. There continue to be tenants who do not pay and/or engage. The service has been issuing arrears letters since late 2020 and is now restarting 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 the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act regulations has banned evictions. These regulations have been further extended, with the ban now beyond 31 March 2021 and subject to review every 21 days by the Scottish Government. The rents team 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 required, to ensure that income is maximised where possible. Current rent arrears are £1,342,557 (week 50), this is an increase of £274k at same week as last year. Two free fortnights are now in place and if tenants with arrears continue to pay the arrears level will reduce.
The next Taking Part newsletter is due to be issued in April 2021. The last online TPWG meeting was held on Thursday 11 March 2021 and the next one is Thurs 22nd April.
Systems & Policy
Team is gearing up for year end returns and has finalised and distributed the rent review paperwork. The Business Improvement Plan for 2021/22 has been completed and targets set for the year ahead. This has been harder than previous years due to the affect Covid-19 has had on 20/21 performance.
Service has finalised the withdrawal from the tenants home contents insurance scheme, working closely with the broker, Thistle, who will take on the administration of the scheme for tenants wishing to stay with it from the 1st of May (this has been delayed by 1 month to ensure tenants are notified correctly). Tenants were notified by letter last week.
The Annual Return on Charter (ARC) will be due in at the end of May and service will be working on that as soon as year end hits. The performance for 20/21 will be unlike any other year due to the pandemic and it will be interesting to compare our performance with other Local Authorities in light of these unprecedented times.
The Local Housing Strategy (LHS) is due for review this year and service is starting to put the wheels in motion in relation to consultation, beginning to think how a new strategy will look taking into account the changes Covid-19 has placed on all of us.
Interviews were carried out last Friday for the vacant policy officer post and the successful applicant will start on Monday 19th April pending suitable references.
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.
Final arrangements for a Planning Pre-Determination Hearing and subsequent determination of an application for an Additional Support Needs School at Waterside Road in Kirkintilloch have been made.
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 have begun analysis and drafting of the Council’s response. Future updates will provide more details on this process. 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 are being used to update the Economic Recovery Plan. Work has commenced on initial project planning for a Circular Economy Strategy.
A Draft Parking Management Plan is currently being worked on by officers ahead of it being presented to the Transport Working Group for discussion. Work has commenced on initial project planning for the next Active Travel Strategy, which replace the 2015-20 Strategy. 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 for the Council is now under way. The first stage of this is an early engagement exercise - the ‘Climate Conversation’. This invites people both inside the Council and across our communities 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. There will also be a particular focus on engaging with businesses to discuss what action they can take to reduce their emissions and how they can successfully adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change. The Climate Conversation webpages went live on Monday 8th March, with surveys, a question and answer facility, and details of the forthcoming Climate Conversation events. 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 on 6th April, and will then be reported to a future PNCA Committee or Council meeting for endorsement.
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. With the completion of the Local Development Plan 2 project, the team are creating a web application that will allow officers in shared services to accurately plot and analyse safe walking routes for school placement requests, due to be completed by the end of March. This web application will utilise Ordnance Survey products such as OS Highways, Pathways and Place names, which will then be configured as required by the . 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. Finally, the team are 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 will commence next week and will include agreement on initial engagement arrangements. More details will be provided to members when available.
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 The team are very pleased to report that the new Antonine Wall Play Park in Peel Park Kirkintilloch is now open and is getting a great reviews from local families. . Designs have finalised for phase 2 of the Milngavie Public Realm project. The project will mirror the phase 1 design which created an attractive gateway to the start of the West Highland Way and will be managed by the Milngavie BID with support from the team as required. 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 is likely to start at the end of March. 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. Work continues supporting a number of local groups and organisations to deliver Scotland’s Towns Partnership “Love Local” fund projects which will help town centres and local businesses adapt to and recover from the impacts of Covid-19. 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.
Temporary closure and restriction grants continue to be awarded making payments for March to eligible businesses. The Private Hire & Taxi Driver Fund will close this Friday as per Scottish Government instruction. The EDC Discretionary Fund has received a very high number of applications. To avoid over subscription the fund will close this Friday.
Small Accommodation Fund (Self Catering and Bed & Breakfasts) and the Large Self-Catering Fund has reached a closing date and any applications made are being processed. The team over the last 12 months have now administered circa £20m in financial support.
Updates from Scottish Government officials are provided via SLAED in relation to the rules and criteria surrounding current funds, and any proposed future support. Currently no new funds have been confirmed.
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 £1.2m of funding confirmed for 2021/22. We await confirmation of other funds up to an additional £0.8m.
Works have commenced at Mugdock Road Car Park, Milngavie for the electric vehicle charging hub. Three new rapid chargers will be installed over the coming weeks adding to the existing EV charger.
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.
The team are working with colleagues in Greenspace and Rangers at Mugdock Country Park to deliver path improvement projects throughout the authority including:
- Langfaulds Path
- Kilmardinny Loch
- Cairnhill Woods Path.
With the increase in cycling throughout 2020 schools are seeing a huge rise in need for cycle and scooter parking. The team are installing additional shelters at six schools by March 2021. A new cycle shelter design competition will be launched at Balmuildy and Milngavie Primary Schools and implemented by Easter 2021.
The team’s iBike Officers are working with colleagues in Outdoor Education on the roll out of led rides and led walks following the planned phased return to schools from Monday 22 February.
Design work continues on the Canniesburn Toll Improvement Project which aims to improve the function of Canniesburn 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 over March and April.
The team continue to work on the A803 Signal Optimisation Project funded by the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund (BPRDF).
The team have now completed their 2021/22 funding applications with over £1m of external sustainable transport funding expected in the coming year.
The Waste Service continues to deliver the full range of collections with no major disruption at this time.
Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection
Collections are operating normally for residents with increased recycling tonnage being identified in line with previous updates. The service is also in the process of concluding sign off with Legal Services for the new Dry Recycling contract due for renewal in April of this year.
Green Waste Collection
The Garden Waste Service is now fully operational.
Bulky Collections (Special Uplifts)
The Waste team continue to deliver the Special uplift service with demand for this area remaining consistent with recent activity.
The service continues to work through requests for replacement bins as resources allow with an upturn in requests for garden waste bin requests. In line with previous commitments, priority is given to residual bin deliveries however the team continue to work through all requests as resources allow.
Mavis Valley Recycling Centre
The household waste recycling centre remains open and operational at this time however the recent upturn in weather has had an impact on traffic at peak times. It is anticipated that demand will continue to increase over the coming weeks as Government restrictions ease and a further review of operating hours will be taken at that time. The service has now reinstated seven day traffic management at the site in order to manage demands.
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, with tender evaluations now completed for the replacement of the Councils Fleet of buses for delivery of ASN School Transport and Social Work Day services activities. The new vehicles will be delivered in the coming financial year. Work is also taking place in order to de-fleet and dispose of outgoing fleet assets in line with the replacement programme.
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 truck and vehicle MOT preparation and testing at present, this work has increased as a consequence of DVSA MOT extensions granted through the lockdown in 2020 now coming to an end. 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. The team have now concluded the recruitment process to fill Driver & Mechanics positions.
Place & 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 was placed in Level 4 of the tiered strategy within The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations but this was raised to a ‘Stay at Home’ order in January. This means that all hospitality premises, non-essential shops and services, accommodation and leisure services amongst others are closed and the public advised to remain at home unless to leave for essential purposes.
The team will soon commence an intervention at medium sized retailers to assess the suitability of mitigations. Other visits are also taking place to respond to serious Covid-19 related complaints and the team continue to receive many requests from local businesses for advice on what the restrictions mean for their operation. Owing to recent experience, we anticipate further service demand when more services re-open from 5th April.
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 early 2021 with the presumption that inspection programmes can begin in summer. Two new Covid-19 Public Health Compliance Officers have been taken on for 1 year to assist the team and will take up their positions later this month.
Trading Standards Team
On 16th March 2021 the Scottish Government announced an updated timetable for lockdown easing - https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-timetable-for-easing-restrictions/pages/timetable/
Level 4 restrictions remain in place, however outdoor non-contact sports for up to 15 adults are now permitted. The stay at home requirement will be replaced by a stay local message from 2nd April. Non-essential retail is currently required to close, however, hairdressers, barbers and garden centres will be permitted to open along with non-essential click and collect from 5th April. Previously close contact services were a significant area of work for the TS Team with a number of complaints and enquiries received. We anticipate the re-opening of hairdressers and barbers may lead to an increase in complaints and business advice requests. It is currently unclear whether under the mask treatments such as beard trimming will be permitted on the reopening. Trading Standards will continue to liaise with Police Scotland in relation to matters arising around face coverings.
Enquiries continue around the areas of hardware and building supplies, and fitness and leisure, Officers continue to monitor these sectors. Non-essential retail wishing to offer click and collect is another current source of enquiries to the TS Team and we anticipate a further increase in workload as more retailers are permitted to offer this service under the route map.
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 400 complaints and business advice requests on Covid-19 related matters and have also delivered over 1500 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. Trading Standards also provided a talk to the tenant participation working group regarding Covid-19 related scams which are currently prevalent.
Having now exited the EU, Trading Standards anticipate an increased workload in relation to the many changes which will impact on their remit. Officers will continue to receive training regarding changes to Trading Standards legislation brought in by the withdrawal agreement. Officers are undertaking e-learning courses on the changes to Trading Standards legislation, including fair trading, e-commerce, metrology, product safety, animal health, and cross-border matters in advance of the changes which are now in place.
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 Advisor continues to deal with routine licensing consultations, complaints and enquiries.
Community Safety Team
The Community Safety Team continues to deliver a range of essential, emergency and ongoing work. Service delivery activities have been tailored and prioritised to coincide with the requirements of the level 4 Covid-19 restrictions and lock down measures 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 over the last few weeks owing to the latest set of lock down measures, but additional deployment will be considered wherever relevant as soon as restrictions ease 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. In terms of pest control, a number permanent bait visits have 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 restrictions, the focus for the Community Wardens in relation to decriminalised parking enforcement has largely been centred upon our town centre areas, but due to increasing complaints for a number of our Primary Schools (which have now re-opened on a phased return starting from 22nd February) we will be ensuring that patrols are carried out at these schools during drop off and pick up times over coming weeks. On the DPE front four new Parking Wardens have now jointed the team. They will be undertaking a period of training but will then be out and about covering our town centres and school estate in the coming weeks.
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 being utilised wherever possible with face to face visits only being carried out where absolutely essential.
The Grant Advisory Committee met 10 March and CPP Board approval was sought thereafter for Round 2 of the Community Grants. The successful applicants and groups are now being 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 & Environment
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. We also continue with our planned gully maintenance operations, working to complete all secondary routes and respond to reports of blocked gullies. The Street Lighting Operations team are responding to any reported defects, dark lamps or dark areas, addressing all within the required time frames.
As we move into a period of drier weather the operations team have returned to our Road Marking and Relining operations as resources allow and are working to address any safety concerns raised over the winter period.
The Roads Operations team have also provided 24 hour response to any issue reported on the network including road traffic accidents or emergency defects on a stand by rota basis including our annual Winter Maintenance programme.
The team is continuing to weekend support colleagues in Waste with the operation of Mavis Valley Transfer Station, providing traffic management to assist with the control of vehicles accessing the site.
With the opening of the Mass and Targeted COVID Vaccination Centres at Milngavie and Kirkintilloch Town Halls and the Asymptomatic Testing Facility and Auchinairn Early Learning Centre, roads operatives have been supporting with the supply of marshalling and additional gritting operations to ensure safe access is maintained to these centres. Through collaborations with Greenspace, additional gritting measures have been put in place to ensure those attending appointments can do so safely.
Roads Inspectors continue to carry out all statutory safety inspection routes as well as investigating issues reported across the road network. As operations by utility companies have now increased the inspectors along with the Utility technician have commenced inspections of their operations as required. Inspectors and technician are now continuing to review and process and permit applications submitted to the Roads authority.
The lighting technical team continues to work on ongoing tasks suited to home based working such as processing inventory records, updating and data cleansing. Officers have returned to site inspection duties and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. The team is also responded to any planning applications which have been received.
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. We are actively working towards increasing activities to allow a return to the Capital Resurfacing programme when welfare and vehicle issues are resolved. Through the use of specialist external contractors we have managed to resolve structural road issues on both Crow Road and Stockiemuir Road and managed to complete the resurfacing of several locations, including Manse Road, Whitehill Road, Eskdale Road, Tay Road and South Erskine Park. Works continue on Collylinn Road to upgrade both the carriageways, footways and street lighting.
Roads Technical and Engineering Team
- 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 is now in place and work to repair the bridge has started.
- Alnwick Bridge, Crow Road, Lennoxtown. Waterproofing to bridge deck completed
- Inch Belle Culvert, A803 Kilsyth Road, Kirkintilloch. Work to waterproof a new concrete saddle, repair masonry abutments and arch, and rebuild parapets, is complete.
- Culvert Repairs, Bencloich Road, Lennoxtown. Supervision ongoing.
- Stockiemuir Road, Bearsden. Supervision of work to install gabion baskets to provide support to carriageway ongoing.
- Continuing with General Inspections, and some Principal Inspections also being completed.
Drainage and Flood Prevention
- River Glazert Restoration Project, Lennoxtown - Site investigations have been undertaken and the final report is being finalised with SEPA and EDC comments. This sign off will allow us to progress to Detail Design work in April with outputs being completed in May 2021. Construction works are planned for the summer of 2021.
- Climate Ready Park, Bishopbriggs - Detail design including the allotment site is now progressing after site investigations being undertaken. We hope to have final designs for end of financial year with consultation with locals shortly thereafter.
- Park Burn Kirkintilloch - De-silting & regrading of the burn under the Canal - anticipate starting on site in June 2021.
- Bencloich Road Lennoxtown - Works are progressing with scour protection and all should be completed by the end of March.
- Allander Bridge No.1 Glasgow Road Milngavie
- Consulting on food model to ensure proposals do not increase flood risk in the Allander Water. SEPA will be party to these discussions.
- River Glazert Bank collapse at Weir - The area / path has been made safe. Currently arranging to visit the site with our consultants and SEPA to discuss if a temporary solution can be undertaken or if we can include these works as part of the Glazert River Restoration project as this weir area is in our Reach 3 being considered.
- River Kelvin Flood Defence Scheme - Pumping stations - Remedial works to be actioned.
- Ralston Road. Drainage upgrades finished though an issue outside one property needs resolved.
- CCTV addressing some localised drainage issues.
- The Capital Resurfacing programme for 2021 has been uploaded onto the Roads Register.
- Currently arranging traffic management plans and dates with Scottish Gas Networks to carry out gas mains replacement in Bishopbriggs, from Asda to Bishopbriggs Cross from April 2021 to August 2021.
- Assisting with the design and implementation of an average speed camera system on Auchinairn Road.
- Ongoing procurement of a traffic survey and lining contract.
- 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.
- This is in addition to the usual tasks of responding to planning applications, FOI requests and customer enquiries.
- Street cleansing duties (Litter picking/Fly tipping/Clearing of bring sites
- Mechanical SweepingCulvert grill inspections
- Shrub bed maintenanceFootball pitch maintenance and school pitch markings
- Play Park maintenanceAssisting cemetery operations
- Excessive graffiti incident removal
- Recruitment of seasonal posts and full time operatives
- Train the trainer course completed for driver to train HGV sweeper drivers
Streetscene Technical Support
- Langfaulds path upgrades completed
- Kilmardinny Loch path upgrades ongoing
- Preparation of Cairnhill Woods path upgrade works
- Kilmardinny House woodland management ongoing
- Myrtle Ave path upgrade preparation works
- Afton View play area upgrade ongoing
Mugdock Country Park
- Public toilets are now open in the Courtyard although the Visitor Centre, offices and rooms for hire remain closed at present;
- Takeaway food is being served from the Stables Tearoom with Charlie's Coffee Bar offering takeaway Fri-Sun each week;
- Caulders Garden Centre is making preparations to open 5th April for some of its services;
- Mugdock Makkers has started selling items online but otherwise has been closed;
- Restoration work is continuing in the Walled Garden around the Bandstand steps and the paths;
- Improvements to the maintenance yard are continuing;
- Percolation tests are being carried out to support the building control application for the new Observatory;
- The fence on the children's play park is being replaced;
- New directional signs have to been ordered to continue the replacement programme being rolled out across the Park;
- Filming is taking place in Pheasants Wood, Peitches Moor, Khyber field and Mugdock Castle for a fantasy drama;
- New footfall counters have been installed at the main entrance to the Park;
Native trees are being planted to replace the areas of rhododendron which have been cut back.
EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 26 March 2021
The next phase of the reopening of schools took place from Monday 15 March. Pupils in Primary 4 to 7 returned full time and blended learning is provided for pupils in secondary schools. This provides some time in school and remote learning continuing to be provided. No issues have been reported and staff and children have been happy to back in school.
Revised guidance has been issued by Scottish Government and this will remove the requirement for physical distancing in secondary schools. Confirmation of a full return to school is expected by Scottish Government on 6 April.
Secondary schools are under considerable pressure due to the requirements of the Alternative Certification Model which replaces the examinations for the National Qualifications. When schools reopen after Easter, there will be a focus on 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 process in place. Two additional in-service days for secondary schools will be Friday 7 May and Tuesday 1 June ; these days, with the in-service day on Thursday 6 May, will give teachers time to engage in quality assurance and moderation activities. Education Scotland have been instructed to undertake a review of the quality assurance process which is in place in all local authorities. This will involve engagement with local authority officers, head teachers, teachers and teacher trade unions.
The next stage will involve supporting schools to evaluate the impact on children of lockdown and put support in place for learning and well being. A comprehensive self evaluation will be carried out by the central team to inform planning both at school level and within the authority.
The early years team continue to work towards the implementation of the expansion of early learning and childcare. Workforce recruitment is continuing and officers are working to support local authority and funded providers now that all centres are fully reopened. The new centre at Oakburn in Milngavie is being set up, with some minor issues to be addressed before it can open for children.
The Snack and Play programme for Easter is being planned in conjunction with EDLCT. The provision has been expanded into the Westergreens and Clober area of Milngavie. Places are prioritised for children, who are entitled to free school meals and those who are vulnerable. The places are then opened to other children who would benefit from the provision. The Holiday Playscheme in Merkland for children with additional support needs is being organised with the appropriate risk assessment in place.
The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services with significant workstreams around major assets, 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 end of year stock check.
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.
Review of Care at Home and Supported Living Contract renewals are currently ongoing and aligned to support the Commissioning team and HSCP.
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.
End of year processes for invoices and payments are currently in place and resources aligned to support the increased demand on the Service.
The team continue 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 will be paid by 1st April 2021. (£144/eligible child)
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.
Health & Safety
The Health and Safety team has been attending sites to support Assets and Estates team and our contractors with regards to statutory Health & Safety requirements.
The team is currently supporting Education with COVID-19 guidelines, updating and reviewing measures in place as well as outbreak case management alongside Environmental Health and Education officers.
Work 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 support 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 teams continue to engage with the manager to address H&S requirements for upcoming operations.
The Fire safety Team is supporting HSCP Adult services in the preparations for re-start of services; supporting the Major Assets team with on-site visits to new builds; continued to carry out Fire risk assessments of all operational and non-operational buildings closing in on all scheduled visits.
The H&S team continues to engage with our Health Surveillance providers and the management of the health surveillance records. It will be supporting on site clinics starting next week. Review of individual vibration risk assessments are being progressed with the review of HAVS REACTEC system to improve recording.
The service continues to support the Asymptomatic Testing Site alongside the British Army and Legal and Democratic services and the team continues to work with Property Maintenance doing on site H&S inspections.
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 that throughout the recent Stay at Home Regulations, services continue, are safe, flexible and responsive to changing needs and are sustainable in the longer term.
Planning & Development continues to have an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Adult Services Oversight Group. The group, whose membership includes Public Health and Care Inspectorate, 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. A key priority is the roll out of the C-19 vaccination and testing across care homes and community based services which the team continues to monitor and provides regular progress update reports to the Oversight group.
Planning & Development continues to work in partnership with the HSCP and external commissioners to support the safe closure and transition of individuals at Campsie Neuro care home – which is due to close at the end of May 2021. Team members currently attend daily / fortnightly operational and strategic meetings to help identify and commission suitable alternative placements for five local residents who require 24 hr support with accommodation.
Planning & Development continues to monitor providers Business Continuity Plans and intervenes if/where required to help mitigate service continuity risks. Provider’s business continuity plans are regularly reviewed, and updated and aligned to the HSCP’s overarching BC Plan. The HSCP’s Local Resilience Management Team (LRMT) continues to meet fortnightly to review resilience planning, surveillance and reporting across all HSCP / commissioned services
Assurance visits to care homes are ongoing and to date have been positive with few recommendations required. P&D progress any related compliance issues with care home managers/owners and report / update the Oversight Group on progress, actions required and outcomes.
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. Claims and payments are aligned to the Scottish Government’s guidance published in December 2020. Approved claims are routinely captured within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan and providers submit invoices to P&D for recording and progressing/payment purposes.
The HSCP, supported by Planning & Development, Legal and Procurement is currently finalising plans to prepare the transfer of its Care at Home and Housing Support contract / business to Scotland Excel’s National Flexible Framework. The contract expires on 31 March 21 and all current business transfers over is planned to commence on 1st April 2021. Provider engagement has taken place on preparation for this transfer and this will continue in the 2021/22 year.
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 planning and leadership information is underway at this time.
Trades Union engagement continues on a weekly basis and has focused on a broad range of strategic issues such as targeted vaccination updates, workforce vaccine programme, weekly testing processes, election preparations as well as risk assessment and required actions to respond to strategic issues in the Stay At Home regulations. Additionally, engagement on the progression of Service reviews within Assets and Facilities, Customer & Business Services and Education Support has taken place. Engagement sessions will take place with teams included within the scope of the reviews and established policies implemented for revised service delivery models.
Planning is progressing for the implementation of Services reviews within the Business Partner Team and Job Evaluation for the review of role profiles in line with agreed structures changes.
Engagement continues with Managers on the support for Individual Risk Assessments and Occupational Health Assessments based on Stay At Home regulations and Scottish Government advice. The response and review will continue to be monitored throughout this time. This has been a particular focus with the reopening of schools.
The HR case team continues to work on concluding cases as timely as possible whilst always ensuring early intervention and informal resolution principles apply. Work also continues on preparing and presenting disciplinary and grievance appeal cases to members of the Human Resources Appeals Board.
Work continues in relation to trend analysis for consideration of impact on Services due to implementation of Stay at Home Regulations and any preparedness in addition to regular statistical updates.
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 following delays due to the Pandemic and work has commenced in relation to reviewing the Council’s e-learning platform.
Wellbeing campaigns are being highlighted through employee communications and publication on the Employee Zone. The teams are involved in Trauma awareness training at this time.
Business & Digital Change Team
The Business & Digital Change Team continues to lead the delivery of a range of multi-disciplinary projects across the Council.
Work has commenced to develop a business case for our Web Content Management System (CMS) and integrated Customer Relations Management (CMS) system. These are central to digital customer interaction within EDC.
The team has been reflecting on the new Digital Strategy for Scotland launched earlier this month and its alignment to the Council Digital Strategy for 2019 – 2024.
Work to deliver new solutions for the replacement of legacy Education systems continues to progress well with a wide range of new solutions being developed to allow delivery of essential functions across the Education sector.
Preparatory work has commenced for initiating a programme of projects which are prerequisites for implementing the councils Smart Working vision supporting the organisational requirements for the future.
The team has been working with Finance to provide an end-to-end digital process for music tuition billing in the future.
The team is involved in reviewing and providing feedback to the Digital Office on a requirements specification for Robotic process automation (RPA) which may be used to build a Procurement strategy for cross-Council use.
The Business Systems team is focussed on year-end upgrades ensuring the councils key systems are compliant and remain up to date ready for the new financial year. Most recently the Council Tax system has been upgraded and the Councils HR/Payroll system upgrade has now taken place.
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. 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 is not progressing to look at how some activities might be reintroduced at the leisure centres in a way which does not impact on the vaccination programme.
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. It is currently staffed by an Army team which is supported by members of the Civil Contingency team and also colleagues from Roads & Environment. The Army Team will be on site until conclusion of the MACA (4th April) and will thereafter be resourced by both Council and GG&C staff in the short term. Planning for the medium to longer term is in hand and Members will be updated once this is developed further. 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 separate Technical Note will be issued shortly 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 15 – 245 March 26 Births and 47 deaths were registered by Customer Services.
Notwithstanding the pause in some of the workstreams around Care for People and Shielding, the Team continues to work to support governance matters and civil contingencies input in relation to Outbreak Management & concurrency issues 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 proceeding at pace. 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 will be subject to robust risk assessments in order to protect employees, voters and candidates. On 8th March a Pre-Nomination session was arranged for potential candidates and focussed on arrangements for the safety of the election and those participating, along with details of the nomination process.
In terms of the election timetable to date, then the key milestones are as follows:-
Notice of Election – 15 March
Receipt of Candidate Nominations – 16 March – 31 March between 10am – 4pm (by appointment only)
1st Issue Poll cards – 16 March
1st Issue Postal Votes – 14 April
Postal Vote Opening will commence week beginning 19 April
A subject specific Technical Note will be issued to Members in the coming week
The Team continues to work on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making. Members will be aware that most meetings up to the end of March have been stood down due to the resurgence of COVID-19 infection rates and the consequent lockdown. Notwithstanding, Council meetings have been taking place and quasi judicial boards where there is urgent business. The Team is currently working on arrangements for the forthcoming Pre Determination Hearing and subsequent special meeting of Council in respect of the planning application for a proposed new ASN School at Waterside. This is resource intensive for Democratic Services over the remainder of this month and Members have been provided with the timeline under cover of a separate Technical Note. The Legal & Democratic Services Management Team is examining the best use of available resources to accommodate this important area of work while sustaining our support for Covid response [particularly planning for Community asymptomatic Testing and Mass Vaccinations]. A further calendar of meetings for 2021/22 has been prepared and will be issued to members in a technical note.
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 continue to guide Major Assets in the negotiation and conclusion of the Council’s capital projects and agreements are now at signing stage 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. Despite the pause in meetings, a Special Civic Government Appeals Board relating to an urgent and high risk matter took place last month and a meeting of the Planning Local Review Body took place this month to deal with some particularly complex applications. A Licensing Board is also scheduled for later this week.
Both Legal & Democratic Services are heavily involved in the Pre Determination Hearing and special meeting of Council scheduled for 30th March. In addition to the usual arrangements supporting virtual meetings, the Teams have met with objectors and supporters to assist them in preparing for the pre determination hearing and briefing sessions have been set up for elected members to run through the procedure for these hearings.
Following the announcement on expected relaxation of restrictions from the First Minister, 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. The extended timescales of last year (to accommodate the work of the pandemic and home working) are no longer available and so preparations are commencing for this year’s anticipated appeals. 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 will shortly meet 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 Spring/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
Corporate Performance & Research
The Corporate Performance & Research Team 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. Quality assurance improvements and data cleansing activity are ongoing to ensure accurate data and confidence in data returns. Engagement continues with National Records Scotland in preparation for the next census, now due to take place in 2022 with planning underway and a communications plan in development for engagement with the East Dunbartonshire public from March next year.
The Public Performance Report (PPR) 2019/20 has been finalised and published in line with our local approach, incorporating case studies to highlight good practice and the PPR is aligned to the key LOIP principles and themes. A Technical Note on the PPR was being issued on 26 February to advise of publication.
Work is continuing to support performance reporting for 2020/21 and agree timescales for committee approval ahead of recess in June 2021. Support was provided to Executive Officers in the finalisation of their Business Improvement Plans (BIPS) which were agreed by Council at the meeting on 18 March. Work will also continue in the coming months to develop the corporate performance aspirations highlighted in the strategic review of strategic planning and performance that was presented to Council on 17 December, and reinforced in the Council Budget papers on 25 February. Work is also progressing with all service areas on the Council’s insurance renewals and with moving towards business as usual for reporting for the coming financial year.
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 have continued to focus on ensuring the workforce is aware of the latest guidance and the continuing review of risk assessments and workplace Covid-19 measures in line with updated guidance to ensure the safety of all employees and sharing the Public Health and Scottish Government guidance as this is updated and renewed.
The website continues to be updated daily and new pages created to meet service and messaging requirements. Further new online forms and associated web pages have been created for the latest rounds of business support grants launched by Scottish Government and administered locally. There have been continuous changes to closing dates and messaging on the website and through social media channels has been updated and relayed accordingly.
A communication plan is in place and being delivered ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary Election on 6 May, with a web page established where the notice of election has been published and the campaign to ensure people are registered to vote is underway. Information on applying for a postal vote is being shared, alongside messaging to reassure everyone that voting will be safe.
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. A total of six Employee News have been issued this reporting period.
Communications support for community asymptomatic testing centre in Auchinairn has continued the past fortnight, including the establishment of a dedicated community testing webpage with a ‘what to expect’ video, promotion of the testing centre through social media and the production of posters and flyers both in digital and print format for local businesses and community groups. Information has also been collated on all the support available should an individual or someone in their household test positive, and all information in relation to the testing centre is also being disseminated through local schools. An exit survey has been created and to date all respondants have confirmed that they find the testing centre extremely safe with clear messaging on the process.
In the past fortnight, a total of 11 media enquiries were received and responded to on deadline, and 4 media releases have been issued, resulting in positive coverage online and print media for the Council. Media releases over the past fortnight have included: the publication of the Notice of Election, news that over £20 million has been distributed in business grants supporting the local economy, the Council recognising the National Day of Reflection on 23 March, a year after the first Covid-19 vaccination began, and the Climate Conversation consultation that is taking place between now and May to explore ways of reducing carbon emissions. 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. On twitter there were 103 posts in the last period with a reach of 2.39 million, similar to the previous fortnight and there are currently 18.832k followers of the Council Twitter account. The highest reaching posts on twitter this past fortnight were the launch of the community asymptomatic testing centre in Auchinairn, the ‘Keep Safe’ awareness day on 4 March, and a reminder to parents/carers about wearing a face covering when dropping off and picking up children from school:
Top three Twitter Posts:
On Facebook there were 130 posts with 529.7k reach over the past fortnight and the number of Facebook fans that like the Council page remains steady at 17.756k, with 19.72k following the page. The highest reaching posts were an alert about a Covid-19 grant scam and the posts promoting the community testing centre in Auchinairn.
Top three Facebook Reach:
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 calls in relation to vaccination 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. The team is supporting the application process for the Spring hardship payment being made at the start of April, ahead of the School Easter break, to those in receipt of free school meals and clothing grants.
Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance. A strict appointment-only based approach is 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 is also 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 Coordinators continue to support the schools with the return of all primary pupils and teachers to the schools. As we approach the end of the financial year they are working with the Head Teachers to ensure that they meet their financial deadlines. They also continue with preparatory work for the removal of the SEEMIS financial modules from 1st April.
The Transport team continue preparations for the transport provision for academic year 2021/22. We are working with the schools and procurement colleagues to put the next round of requirements out for tender. The team have been adjusting the transport requirements for the return of Secondary Schools from 15th March and organising the transport for play schemes over the Easter break. The Homecare, Residential and EMA teams are all working toward the financial year end. In particular, the social work teams continue to process paperwork for all services for the more vulnerable people within EDC to ensure providers receive their payments. Work is also ongoing to process all referrals for social work, including Homecare, while working with the ADRS team on the roll out of the new Management Information System (DAISY).
The General Team continue to provide the National Assistance Helpline facility for the Council, providing support to shielders, vulnerable and self-isolating residents.
The Early Years team are working with Business and Digital Change colleagues to prepare for the new SEEMIS Early Years system implementation. The school placing request deadline has now passed therefore the education team have started the allocation process.
The letting team have liaised with sports clubs to reinstate lets for outdoor non-contact training and also making plans for the recommencement of lets based on the current Scottish Government plans.
Revenues & Benefits
The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to experience significant demands, however, the reduction in local cases of COVID in the area has been reflected in a reduction in ‘Self-Isolation Support Grants’ applications.
The Benefits Team are dealing with high levels of applications, particularly Council Tax Reduction, and continue to meet performance targets. As expected, the delivery of Council Tax bills has resulted in an increase in enquiries and Non Domestic rates casework remains higher than normal due to effects of the pandemic on businesses. However, preparation for 2021/22 NDR billing continues. We have written to all businesses who are potentially entitled to relief under the Retail Hospitality Leisure & Aviation regulations inviting them to apply for the relief. The team will proceed with the annual NDR billing in April once the applications have been processed.
Council Tax recovery is continuing and we are currently responding to enquiries following the issue of the second summary warrant. The Sheriff Officers continue to contact clients in attempts to collect as much as possible. The team continue to support Business Gateway colleagues on the various Scottish Government grants available to support businesses during the pandemic.
The Corporate and Education support teams continue to provide support to customers across both estates within the agreed SLAs. The Education team have been supporting the pupils’ return to school and the deployment of additional devices purchased by the schools. The corporate team continue to maintain our cyber security protection through the deployment of security updates to all corporate devices.
The team have also completed an upgrade to our Mobile Device Management (MDM) System to ensure that mobile devices (phones and tablets) continue to be protected. The ICT Infrastructure team have completed the migration of further applications onto the latest operating system. They also continue to support the delivery of Major Asset projects including Southbank House and Early Years Centres.
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, grants and systems developments to support the ongoing Council efforts. Work is increasingly concentrating on preparations for year-end routines, reporting and external audit.
In the period since the last update the Council has issued and distributed Council Tax Bills within the statutory timescales. Work is ongoing in the to establish whether there are any residual implications for the Council as the Scottish Government’s Budget Bill passed through Parliamentary Processes including notifications of additional grants, distributions to either the Council, HSCP or implications for our wider group.
The Council’s Chief Finance Officers continues to support the coordination of the forthcoming Best Value Audit due for reporting later in the financial year. Meeting have been schedule with Officers (w/c -22-3 and 29-3) with Political Engagement thereafter. 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
The Finance Team continues to engage with services to track the impact of Service arrangements and the attributable costs of Covid. 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. Period 10 Reports are in the process of being finalised for issue as a consolidated technical note.
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.
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 4,815 grants to businesses totalling £21.115 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. In addition the team is starting to compile more detailed expectations and documentation in relation to the 2021/22 budget with benchmarking information being collated between all 32 Councils as well as through external economic advice. This is being applied within the Council’s financial model to provide initial expectations of future financial gaps albeit this remains at a very high level given the variability within the economy.
Period 10 monitoring has now been finalised and will be reported via a technical note in the near future. The team is also now phasing the agreed budget to allow for upload for next years monitoring. The team is also planning and working towards the financial year end including year end instructions and review of baseline papers. As well as working on the Government return (POBE). 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 Lockdown 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 is now completed all audit requests and are now working on completing various year end returns for Scottish Government, Capital Budgets and the submission of our City Deal claim. The Quarter 3 City Deal Claim has now been submitted
Internal Audit and Fraud
Internal Audit have continued to work on audits included in the original audit plan for the year 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 Education Control Self Assessment report and action plan has been finalised, with management actions agreed to five minor issues raised, of which three have already been actioned by management and target dates have been agreed for the remaining two actions. The Team also continues to provide advice in relation to new or revised processes. Further work has included an update report for the HSCP's Performance, Audit and Risk (PAR) Committee, which detailed that since the last PAR Internal Audit have focussed on the handover of the HSCP provider payment claims process in terms of HSCP support.
In addition, Internal Audit continues 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 41 appeals received to date for this fund, the rejection has been upheld for 38, 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. Six appeals have been received and the original decision to reject has been upheld in all cases to date as the applications were deemed to have been assessed in accordance with the Council's criteria and guidance.
The Corporate Fraud Team is continuing to focus on vetting applications received for business grants and school places. Corporate Fraud has also received National Fraud Initiative data matches for review and investigation. 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 March.
In 2019 East Dunbartonshire Council participated in a successful Non Domestic Rates Small Business Bonus pilot data match which resulted in £412,974 in incorrect awards being identified across the seven authorities that took part. Audit Scotland is now progressing extending this data match across all 32 Scottish Local Authorities. Local preparation has begun to ensure that the relevant data will be submitted by the end of April. Matches are expected to be received by the Council in June and following this investigations will commence.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 26 March 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. It is planned that some business continuity response and tracking arrangements will be de-escalated to partial standby in April in order to re-direct resources to recovery planning, with the proviso that these arrangements may be re-escalate immediately if necessary.
The targeted Covid-19 vaccination arrangements for high risk groups (including care home residents) is now well advanced. All care home residents have now had two vaccinations. The HSCP has supported GP practices in the delivery of vaccinations to the over 80s, those aged 75 to 79 and the clinically vulnerable (shielding). These were delivered across two main sites at Kirkintilloch and Milngavie Town Halls, in addition to GP surgeries, and aim to complete second vaccinations by the end of April. Vaccination uptake rates for these groups were very high, ranging from 93%-97%. 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. Protection referrals are exceeding pre Covid rates.
The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) continues its more frequent meetings, with an agenda focussed primarily on key areas of risk, but with an increasing return to business items. The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued to meet fortnightly and reports directly to this COG. This ensures management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection. This group has included work to support early release of prisoners in collaboration with Housing services.
Practices and processes for protection functions are updated in line with revised national guidance and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. A specific public protection covid-19 risk register has also been developed to support ongoing work. Items of concern are noted and escalated to COG.
Service Delivery Impacts
Most social care services continue to be delivered on a business as usual basis e.g. statutory assessment and supervision services, care at home and residential care. 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 not 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.
After a period of Covid-related staffing pressure during December and January across a number of direct services (most particularly the Care at Home service and learning disability supported living services) pressure have now reduced with contingency arrangements de-escalated, but monitoring continues. Joint working with trade union colleagues has been very positive in responding to issues on the ground.
A pan NHSGGC group on day services has been convened, led by the ED Interim CO, and has produced a document setting out the shared and collective approach to day services over the winter period.
Testing for Social Care Staff
There continues to be access to testing for all social care staff who are symptomatic and regular weekly testing has also been rolled out to all social care and social work services who support at risk adults and children. This is in addition to the testing that has been rolled out to all care home residents and staff where an outbreak is confirmed or suspected. The national testing strategy continues to develop and we continue to respond to any new requirements this brings.
Support to Care Homes
A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP is routinely provided 5 days a week and over the weekend where this is required. In line with Scottish Government requirements the HSCP has in place a daily safety ‘huddle’ to oversee the position of each local care home. 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.
A care home provider operating in East Dunbartonshire has informed the Care Inspectorate of their intention to offer a 12 week notice period to close a specialist care home facility, terminating on 26 May 2021. The provider has intimated ongoing commitment to the care of people living in the facility during this 12 week period. East Dunbartonshire has placed a number of residents within this service. Each placing authority is now scoping the needs of the individuals that they are responsible for supporting and liaising with potential providers of care to establish how best needs can be met, in conjunction with the Care Inspectorate.
Covid outbreaks in care homes have reduced significantly since December and the impact of the vaccine programme is being positively felt.
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 workfare is now in place.
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004, has been extended to include Integration Joint Boards (IJBs) as Category 1 responders, and will come into force on Wednesday 17 March 2021. Whilst Chief Officers have already been contributing to local emergency and resilience planning, they will now be formally contributing through their role as the accountable officer within the IJB. Requirements of Category 1 responders are set out in the Civil Contingencies Act and guidance is available to support Category 1 responders in carrying out their statutory duties.
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