Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Service Update - 4 December 2020

PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 20 November 2020

Assets and Facilities

Property Maintenance

Our new Property Services Manager, Neil Bonar, has been in post for a month now and is working with the team to co-ordinate the range of activities across our Housing, Corporate and Education estates.

The Service continuing to undertake gas safety inspections, reactive repairs (emergencies and essential works only) and works to void housing premises (mainstream and homeless temporary voids). The Care & Repair service is currently only progressing essential works to install aids and adaptations whilst East Dunbartonshire remains subject to Tier 4 restrictions. The Housing elemental replacement programme (kitchens, bathrooms, heating systems) remains on hold whilst the backlog of voids is cleared. The refresh of Asbestos management survey data across the non-housing estate ongoing. The smoke and heat detector installation programme throughout the housing estate is progressing. The service continues to support the completion of works to the Education estate.

Facilities Management

Additional day cleaning staff continue to operate during the hours of 9am and 3pm across all school sites and 8am and 6pm in all Early Years Facilities. Recruitment of additional cleaning staff for schools now complete with recruitment ongoing to fill Early Years positions and vacant posts within the structure. School catering service now expanded to offer hot meals to all pupils in all schools with effect from Monday 30th November. Cashless Catering is currently being implemented on a phased approach in Primary schools which currently do not operate this system. The full roll out of this system will be completed early February 2021. An interim payment system has been identified which will allow all other pupils in Primary Schools the option to purchase a hot meal.

 

Assets & Estates

Work continues to deliver major projects at Southbank House, KHCC and all Early Years sites with projects now expected to finish in late 2020/early 2021. Work continues to progress well across sites.   Early works continue to progress at Boclair Academy ahead of the main phase of construction which is anticipated to start in January.  The construction of Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex and Allander Leisure Centre is also now anticipated to start in January.  Design and cost development continues to progress for the ASN project and a Stage 1 Report will be provided to Council in early 2021.

The Estates Management team continue to develop and manage servicing and maintenance contracts across the Estate.  Portable Appliance Testing has now been completed across the school estate and updated gas servicing is due to progress in early January.  Estates Management continue to lead on the instruction of urgent and non-urgent Repairs across the school estate. 

The Asset Management team continue to deliver a range of other capital projects across the property estate.  Construction of a new synthetic pitch at Lenzie Academy is now due to start in early December.  The award of the contract for replacement pitches at Torrance and Hillhead PS is now expected in December.

Housing Capital
MR Render programme is now well established in Waterside. Individual property windows are now the focus for the Windows and Doors programme and electrical work is being undertaken on all new void properties where possible. Kitchens and Bathrooms are subject to new tender, with some external work also completing. Mixed Tenure Roofing and EWI contracts are at tender award stage.

Housing New Build
Construction has commenced on 3 externally delivered turnkey housing sites. Phase one and Kilmardinny are now completed and handed over, with snagging issues now being addressed.  Work is progressing on the TJH site and officers are working towards award of the Phase 3 (Lairdsland) contract.  Construction is thereafter due to begin in January 2021.  The SHIP 2021-2026 is now under consultation and the Council's new Affordable Housing Investment programme continues to be drafted and will be subject to a Committee Report in 2021.  The CPO Inquiry for Nithsdale Crescent has been temporarily suspended and is now likely to place in 2021.  Demolition work at this site is scheduled for completion by December 2020.

Housing

Homelessness & Prevention Team

During November 2020 the Homelessness and Prevention Team provided advice to 33 households; 18 of which made a homeless application.  Homelessness numbers remain relatively low in comparison to previous years (192 compared to 309 same time last year).  The out of hours service has been extremely busy; 234 calls have been received since April 2020. (compared to 137 same time last year).

The Team have been working hard to ensure appropriate temporary accommodation is available to households most in need. As a result no households were booked into bed and breakfast during November 2020.  To date there has been no breaches of the unsuitable accommodation order. 

In the past two weeks another 6 households have been supported via the Council's Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme to move to settled accommodation in the private sector; a total of 26 households since April 2020. 

The team is currently working with other key partners to support 11 households who will be leaving prison in the next 12 weeks.

Congratulations to Sarah Gemmill (Homelessness Officer) and Marie Little (Rent Deposit Guarantee/Lead Tenancy Officer) who will be appointed from 11 January 2021 to cover the government funded Homelessness Advisor Post (Rapid Rehousing) during Gaynor Teven's maternity leave.

Estates Team

The Estates Team continues to work with Property Maintenance to ensure the voids backlog is progressed as quickly as possible.  There have been 63 new tenancies created so far in Quarter 3 (October-December), 21 of which were new build properties in the Bearsden area.  There are a further 13 sets of keys which have been returned from Property Maintenance which will allow viewings and new tenancies to be created this week. To date, a total of 99 sign-ups have been completed since lock-down restrictions were eased.

The team is also working with the Legal, Police Scotland and Community Safety teams to deal with anti-social behaviour cases by progressing Short Scottish Secure Tenancy conversions to try and resolve on-going noise issues and tenancy matters of a more serious nature that have escalated during the pandemic period.

Systems and Policy Update

Megan Irvine was appointed and has started in the Systems Development Officer role (Housing IT system) and Linda McGuire will return to the systems officer role from Monday 7th December.  The Housing Service is currently looking at options to expand the team to ensure there are resources in place to take forward the implementation of the new IHMS system and assist with the ARC, along with progressing the annual assurance system performance monitoring (recently at PNCA).  James Lewis will be returning to his substantive role in finance but will continue to hand-over to Megan until Linda is back in post.  James will be missed but we hope that he will continue to assist Housing in his finance role with ongoing overlapping work.  New policies on the horizon involve log burners, garden structural permissions and looking at an asset management strategy, as well as continuing the review of current policy and procedures to ensure they are in line with legislation and new practices.

Rents

The Rents Team engages with tenants to ensure rental income is maximised. Advice and support continues to be 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 and the service is now issuing 1st and 2nd reminder letters to these tenants.  No current court actions for rent arrears are taking place until at least March 2021. The rents team continue to support and assist as many tenants as they can with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also referring to CAB, when required, to ensure that income is maximised where possible. Current rent arrears are £1,421,531 (week 34) and this is an increase of £158k on same week as last year.

Tenant Participation

Tenants should receive copies of the latest issue of the Taking Part newsletter by early next week, with electronic copies being passed to Councillors at the same time. The newsletter also contains a questionnaire which will allow tenants to give their views as part of the annual rent setting consultation process. The next online TPWG meeting is being held on 3 December 2020.

Land Planning and Development

Planning Applications and Building Standards

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

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

Both the Planning Applications and Building Standards teams continues to receive the number of applications expected by this point in the financial year despite the pandemic and are working to maintain performance as far as practical. 

Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS

The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council.  Consultation has now commenced on the Proposed LDP2 and will last until 15 January 2021.  A technical note was issued to all Members with full details.  Given the changing restrictions relating to COVID-19, adjustments may need to be made during the representation period. Officers are also working on planning guidance, the historic environment designations review and site specific projects such as Kirkintilloch Gateway.

The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan was reported to Council on 1 October 2020.  The Plan draws together actions across the Council and those being progressed by economic partners as part of delivery of Local Outcome 1. It is a live document, reflecting the ongoing nature of the public health and economic crisis and data will continue to be analysed alongside undertaking consultation. Consultation took place between 2 – 30 November 2020 on the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the Economic Recovery Plan. 242 responses were received which will now be analysed.

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

Work is progressing well on the Scottish Government funded Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Pilot Project with virtual work to assess the potential for improvements on properties in the Milngavie and Bearsden areas to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions now under way. 

The recommendations from the project will inform the development of the Council’s approach to tackling climate change which will be reported to PNCA Committee in due course.  Work to assess progress in meeting the carbon reduction targets set out in the Council’s Carbon Management Plan is will be completed during November and will be reported to PNCA Committee shortly, along with proposals for the preparation of a new Carbon Management Plan. 

The new Plan will set a net zero direct carbon emissions target for the Council, linking to new Regulations that require the Council to report the date by which it will achieve net zero direct emissions, and how the Council will align its spending plans and use of resources to achieve its emissions reduction targets.

The draft Glasgow City Region Climate Adaptation Strategy, prepared by Climate Ready Clyde in partnership with East Dunbartonshire Council and other partners, is now out for consultation until December 24th.  Information about the Strategy, how to submit your views and details of the local consultation event for East Dunbartonshire can be found at http://climatereadyclyde.org.uk/our-adaptation-strategy-and-action-plan. Further details of the Strategy will be reported to Council in December.     

Work on the Council’s other key Land Planning and Sustainability Strategies and Plans is ongoing.  This includes ongoing policy development, continuation with consultation using electronic methods and plans and strategies being presented to Council for approval. 

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

City Deal

The City Deal team has been established with 2 dedicated Officers and a Team Leader.  A third City Deal Officer is due to start at the end of January.  Additional resource across the Council is being put in place to progress the projects.  Officers continue to engage with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC. 

Work on the outline business case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but progress is being made in relation to: procurement of consulting services in support of the Outline Business Case (OBC); programming of the individual projects and work relating to the OBC, work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval), and fee proposals for work relating to the Bishopbriggs Town Centre Public Realm Plan.

Regeneration & Town Centres

The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those recently approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October. Project activity and progress is being maintained via virtual meetings and electronic communication.

The team are pleased to report that the Antonine Wall Play Park in Peel Park Kirkintilloch is programmed to start on site soon. Officers are also developing a project brief and plan in partnership with Land Planning Policy which aims to create a new Kirkintilloch Gateway Masterplan to encourage regeneration of the site. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required and an update will be presented to an upcoming PNCA Committee. A Stage 2 application has been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the Twechar Canal Centre Project. If successful the Council will secure £1.1million to progress the project to construction and create a fantastic resource for the local community. An announcement will be made in February 2021.

Finally the team along with colleagues in , Roads & Environment, Education and local primary schools in Kirkintilloch have been working with Love Kirky to put in place the “Kirkintilloch Rainbow” at Regent Gardens, to encourage everyone to adhere to the current Covid measures also support local businesses (picture below).

Business Support

The Coronavirus Restrictions Fund is now closed with final applications now being processed.  The Strategic Framework Grants were launched on Friday 13th November at 5.00pm as instructed by Scottish Governments.  These grants are designed to be paid 4 weekly in arrears and align to the five tier framework.  Two one off furlough grant payments will also be introduced this week.  One covering the closure restrictions fund and the other for general application.  The payment is £1,650 Letters of offer have been issued to Local Authorities by Scottish Government.

Applications for the Contingency Grant to cover Nightclubs/Soft Play have been issued and these should be paid this week.  In East Dunbartonshire there are only 2 qualifying companies.

A number of queries/appeals remain in respects of Business Grants for Phases 1, 2 and 3 and latterly for the restrictions fund. Government has not yet confirmed a final date for reporting but have asked local authorities to complete property level data for all business support grants awarded in a pre-designed format.  This is significant piece of work and will require collaboration between business support and rates due to the type of data being requested.

Business Gateway continues with its normal service provision however it is experiencing increased demand for support across all sectors.  Redundancies and business closures are on the increase with trade not returning to the same levels for many businesses.

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

Traffic & Transport

Business as usual activity continues with the team working remotely on 2020/21 projects in preparation for return to normal operations. Site visits have recommenced with a number of access and core path issues being resolved.

The team continue to work on the A803 Signal Optimisation Project funded by the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund (BPRDF). The fund supports the Transport Scotland led Transport Transition Plan, which is looking at measures across the City Region to support sustainable travel in the next stage of lock down easing.

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

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

Neighbourhood Services

WASTE SERVICES

Household Collection

The Waste Service continues to deliver a full range of services at present and collections are operating normally for residents.  The ongoing Covid restrictions remain in place and continue to provide challenges for the team however this is being managed on a day to day basis. The team have now substantially completed a working plan for delivering services over the Festive period and will provide communications detailing information for residents and elected Members in the near future.

The recent move to Tier four within the Authority has seen an increase in Residual Waste arising for uplift and processing, with the most recent figures identifying a 12% increase on pre Covid tonnage levels. 

Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents with increased recycling tonnage being identified. 

Green Waste Collection

The service will recommence in March 2021.

Bulky Collections (Special Uplifts)

With the reintroduction of the Special uplift service on Monday 16th November, the Waste team have received a steady demand for this service. The front line crews continue to be deployed daily to meet this demand and as previously highlighted are working to meet the standard timescales for collection of 10 working days. The service will continue to monitor resources in order to maintain operations moving forward.

Bin Deliveries

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

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

The household waste recycling centre remains operational through the Level four restrictions and is now operating on reduced opening hours through the winter months.

Clyde Valley Household Waste Transfer Station

The Waste team continue to work with Clyde Valley Partners and the Council's Major Assets team for the sign off and hand over of the new bulking facility at the Mavis Valley site. It is anticipated that this transfer will be concluded in the coming weeks to allow the contractor to take control and manage the transport and disposal of the Council's household residual waste from this location.  

FLEET SERVICES

Fleet Management

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

Fleet Maintenance

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

Electric Vehicle update

Following the recent order for the supply of 18 additional electric vehicles, the supplier has now confirmed deliveries are programmed and anticipated within February of 2021. The team have been in further discussion with Transport Scotland and the Energy savings Trust in order to secure further charging Infrastructure for 20 additional charging points within the Broomhill depot and Southbank campus area. It is anticipated that this work will be funded via a £60,000 Scottish Government grant.   

Transport Operations

The Transport team continue to support colleagues in Education and Facilities Management for ASN School Transport and have recently restarted hot meal deliveries across the Authority. The team also continue to Manage vehicle and plant hire activities, supporting front line services in addition to managing the Councils Triscan Fuel Management and Masternaut Telematics systems across the Councils operations.

Place and Community Planning

Community Planning

The team responds to requests for community support for escalated or complex cases received through the National Assistance Line or as part of the Isolation Support through Test and Protect.  Our partnership approach with EDVA continues to provide support to those who need it.  The team are able to make direct referrals to the foodbank who provide food and wrap-around support to anyone experiencing food crisis.  Food security and support to the most vulnerable in our community remains a priority.  Volunteer shopping and prescription support continues to be coordinated through the OPAL helpline.

Community development work and support continues remotely in all of our Place areas.  Last year pupils from Wester Cleddans Primary School linked in with the team and visited Auchinairn Community Centre as part of the topic 'Community Centre' which was very well received.  Recently a 'virtual visit' and Q&A session was facilitated remotely by the area Community Development Worker to continue the collaboration.

Statutory equality and reporting duties continue to progress.  Empowered, the local Violence Against Women and Girls partnership, recently held their first online meeting which was well attended by members across the community planning partnership.  A development day is now being planned to refresh the Equally Safe priorities and focus on working collaboratively towards national and local drivers. The Council has also being supporting the 16 Days of Action campaign against gender based violence. The team has also been collating the Council’s annual  Child Poverty Plan Annual Report which will be reported to the Council meeting in December.

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

Environmental Health Team

The on-going prevalence of Covid-19 infections within the community has continued to create a significant increase in demand for Environmental Health services.  Environmental Health staff 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.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 came into force on Monday 2 November, replacing much of the emergency health protection coronavirus legislation that had previously been in place. The East Dunbartonshire Council area is currently placed in Level 4 of the tiered strategy within the regulations.  This means that all hospitality premises and non-essential shops and services are required to be closed for a three week period from 20 November 2020. Whilst this is considered to be a lock down, it is not as restrictive as the first one earlier this year with schools and key industries such as construction still being able to operate

Environmental Health's programme of visits to hospitality settings to assess compliance with legislation and the Covid-19 controls is currently on pause whilst Level 4 restrictions are in place. The team have received many requests from local businesses for advice on what the tier system means for their operation. Environmental Health will continue to assess and monitor compliance by the hospitality sector for take away food and drink business over the coming weeks. Other routine service requests such a 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 is 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 in Environmental Health continue to deal with other environmental regulation and public health in terms of Air Quality, Contaminated Land and numerous noise, odour, smoke and dampness service complaints.  The team are also assessing relevant incoming planning applications and providing comment for planning colleagues on environmental public health considerations to be accounted for.

The Team is monitoring the ongoing EU Exit negotiations and associated trade deals as this will have implications for food safety work and businesses within the community.   Food Standards Scotland has given advance notice of the expectation for the food official controls recovery plan to be implemented by Councils. This is likely to generate very significant extra work over the winter months with the presumption that inspection programmes can begin in spring.   Linked to this, two members of the team have also recently completed their studies for a qualification in Official Control Verification of complex food operations which officers must have going forward in food inspection.

Trading Standards Team

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

The move into level 4 for a period is expected to last until 6pm on 11th December. The restrictions for level 4 are contained within Schedule 5 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 as amended. Non-essential retail requires to close, and the Team continues to receive a number of enquiries from local businesses about whether they can continue to trade. Trading Standards Officers will continue to monitor compliance and take appropriate action in cases of non-compliance.

Other Covid related work has included an increase in enquiries from businesses who work within people's homes and traders who operate from their own home. Complaints relating to a lack of physical distancing in retail premises and enquiries from non-regulated children's activity providers and those who provide adult classes have also featured heavily.

There has been an increase in the workload in the areas of scam prevention, product safety, fair trading, metrology and petroleum.

Despite continuing uncertainty surrounding EU Exit, officers have also been undertaking e-learning courses on the anticipated upcoming 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 expected at the start of 2021.

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.

Licensing Advisers are continuing to deal with routine licensing consultations, complaints and enquiries.

Community Safety Team

The team continues to deliver a range of essential, emergency and re-commencing work. Service delivery activities have been tailored and prioritised to coincide with the requirements of the level 4 Covid restrictions which are still 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. The team has also deployed mobile CCTV in known fly-tipping hotspots for the purposes of helping to tackle this on-going problematic issue.

Control of Dog matters continue to be investigated and an essential / emergency pest control service has also been delivered for residents on an on-going basis since the start of the original lock down in March.

For Community Wardens on-street enforcement for parking offences recommenced in the middle of August.  Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced 14 September 2020.  During this period of level 4 restrictions, the focus for the Community Wardens in relation to decriminalised parking enforcement has been centred upon our school estate. 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.

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.

In addition, a number of mobile CCTV cameras continue to be deployed across the Council area to try and help tackle ongoing issues in terms of antisocial behaviour as well as more serious criminal offences.  These cameras have been deployed in conjunction and agreement with colleagues in Police Scotland. There has been an increasing amount of antisocial behaviour in our communities during the course of the Covid pandemic.

Roads and Environment

Streetscene Operations

The team continue with Winter programme works, and carrying out the following works:

  • Leaf fall
  • Play park inspections / repairs
  • Litter routes/bottle banks/fly tipping
  • Pitch Lining
  • Clearing Culverts
  • Cutting back overhanging foliage overhanging footpaths/schools
  • Cemetery provision or open space operatives assisting in cemetery duties
  • Small sweeper Clearing town centres and all other footpaths/ cycle lanes.

Streetscene Technical Support

Streetscene Technical Support team continues to respond to a high volume of enquiries regarding open space, cemeteries, trees and biodiversity, as well as providing responses to planning application consultations and assisting.  Project development and delivery work has continued including on play area faults and repairs. Some highlights from the last fortnight are:

  • Paving works at Meadowburn steps continues and is due to be completed this week
  • Initial investigation and clearance of drainage pipes at Thorn Park pitches completed. Additional investigation and remediation is required.
  • Assistance provided to community groups awarded grants via the Love Local Fund.
  • Substantial progress has been made on the outdoor wedding venue at Kilmardinny House over the past few months with works now moving in Phase 2.

Mugdock Country Park

Continuing to be a popular attraction, and continuing to be visited by residents during Tier 4 restrictions, highlights from the last fortnight include:

  • Mugdock Joint Management Committee met and approved the Annual Accounts for 2019-2020. 
  • Improvements made to CCTV following security issue at the Park
  • 300 trees, funded through the Woodland Trust, are to be planted across the Park
  • Christmas tree has been put up in the Courtyard although no light switch on event this year
  • On-line Panto available to be booked and will go live from 5th Dec.

Roads Network Operations

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

To assist colleagues in the Corporate Assets team and facilitate outside learning within our Schools the Roads team has developed treatment plans for all School playgrounds which will be treated throughout the winter season by Streetscene seasonal personnel and School site coordinators.

The Roads lighting operational team now has amended working procedures and risk assessments which has allowed the team to return to standard operations, albeit with reduced resources. After review and amendment of operating procedures the team began the annual installation of Christmas Decorations on 16th October. As there are no formal switch on events allowed this year, the decorations will made live on phased approach beginning on the 26th November. The lights are now active in Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Twechar, Milngavie and Bearsden town centres as is the Westerton Conservation area. The remaining switch on events are programmed for Friday 4th December and all advance preparation works have been completed.

Location

Switch on date

Status

 
 

Bishopbriggs

Thursday 26th November 2020

Complete

 
 
 

Kirkintilloch

Friday 27th November 2020

Complete

 
 
 

Twechar

Friday 27th November 2020

Complete

 
 
 

Milngavie

Friday 27th November 2020

Complete

 
 
 

Bearsden Town Centre 

Friday 27th November 2020

Complete

 
 

Westerton (Bearsden)

Friday 27th November 2020

Complete

 
 

Lennoxtown

Friday 4th December 2020

Complete ready for switch on

 
 
 

Milton of Campsie

Friday 4th December 2020

Complete ready for switch on

 
 

Torrance

Friday 4th December 2020

Complete ready for switch on

 
 
 

Haughhead

Friday 4th December 2020

Complete ready for switch on

 
 
 

Clachan of Campsie

Friday 4th December 2020

Complete ready for switch on

 
 

Lenzie

Friday 4th December 2020

Complete ready for switch on

 

In addition the Christmas Trees for Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Milngavie, Bearsden, Lennoxtown, Milton of Campsie and Torrance have been installed and dressed in line with the proposed go live dates.

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

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

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

The lighting technical team continues to work on ongoing tasks suited to home based working such as processing inventory records, updating and data cleansing. Officers have returned to site inspection duties and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. Christmas Light installation works have commenced with installation progressing. The team is also responded to any planning applications which have been received.

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

Traffic

Officers have been analysing surveys of all school crossing patrol sites on behalf of Facilities Management. Officers have conducted two school crossing patrol assessments on behalf of Education for proposed new sites, neither of which were justified.  Cllr Murray judged the annual school road safety calendar competition and the winning entry will be printed onto calendars to be sent out to schools and offices in time for the new year.

Officers have been carrying out ad hoc traffic surveys throughout the authority area.

The Traffic Management Appals Board approved the extension of the 20 mph speed limit and additional road humps for Maxwell Avenue, Bearsden.

Liaison continues with Police Scotland Traffic Management department on a regular basis.

Officers continue to provide observations on planning, licensing and disabled space applications, and processing dropped kerb applications.

There have been a few site visits, including with Scottish Water about issues with parking on the access road from Mugdock Road and in the car park at the Commissioner's Cottage.

Officers continue with identifying and refurbishment of lining/signing on the road network.

Development

Officers attended the quarterly cycle of Local & Area RAUC meetings via MS Teams. Co-ordination of road works remains satisfactory.

Inspection of sites that require roads construction consent is ongoing.

Flood Prevention and Drainage

The River Glazert Restoration Site Investigation tender has been issued. Three reaches along the bank of the Glazert Water are proposed to undergo setting back and re-profiling of the existing embankments to provide improvements to flood risk, biodiversity, and amenity including restoring the river to its natural form. The site investigation is to assess the risks relating to sources of potential contamination, geotechnical constraints and potential hazards associated with the site.

The online community consultation on the project has been live since the 30th October and will complete by the end of 8th Dec 2020. So far, feedback has been positive.

Officers continue tackling our list of prioritised flooding locations from this year's reported flooding locations. Planned drainage works for the year have ended and preparations are being made for next year.

Structures

Emergency repairs have been carried out to Shanks Burn culvert, A809 Stockiemuir Rd.

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 20 November 2020

Education

The number of positive cases in schools and early years centres has decreased in the last two weeks.  Robust procedures are followed to carry out a risk assessment and contacts are informed to self isolate.    This is supported by the central team and Environmental Health.

Visits to schools are taking place by the Depute Chief Executives and Executive Officers to discuss with head teachers and trade union representatives the infection control measures and other issues identified as a result of the visits in August/September.  These visits will provide further reassurance to staff about the priority placed on ensuring our schools and centres are as safe as possible for staff and children.

The roll out of Cashless Catering and an Interim Payment Option has enabled all children to have the option of a hot meal at lunchtime.  This has been managed very well by school staff working closely with the catering team and Facilities Management.

Secondary schools are working to put in place the required procedures for the National Qualifications.  Support is being provided by the Secondary Quality Improvement Officer.  There is concern on the impact on young people in the Senior Phase, who have been required to self isolate.  A comprehensive programme is in place in all schools to support home learning using digital platforms.  All schools have a Learning Loss programme in place to support young people, particularly those in the Senior Phase.

There were two on-line Question and Answer sessions for Parent Council Chairs with the Chief Education Officer and other officers from the central team.  These provided an opportunity to discuss relevant issues related to the SQA qualifications, reporting to parents during the Covid pandemic and the impact on parents and families of Covid.

Following the announcement by Scottish Government that Christmas school holidays will not be changed, the Education Service is working with other services to put in place arrangements over the Christmas holiday period  for tracking of contacts if there is a positive case.  East Dunbartonshire schools close on Monday 21 December and reopen on Wednesday 6 January; almost all early years centres are open until Wednesday 24 December and reopen on Tuesday 5 January.     

Organisational Transformation

Procurement Team

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, City Deal 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 chain for PPE stocks and other critical supplies. The centralisation of PPE Procurement to Broomhill Stores is currently facilitated by the Procurement Team, co-ordinating logistical requirements for PPE to HSCP, Education, Operational Services, etc.  This is carried out through close working with the Senior Health & Safety Adviser, ensuring updated guidance is reflected in PPE items required for our workforce.

Business Grants, School Clothing Grants, Education Trip repayments, Early Years grants, Care providers additional funding requests, etc continue to be processed via the Procurement Support team supporting achievement of Government payment commitments. The team also continues to support the payment processes for Social Isolation payments and planning for the Christmas Holidays food support payments.

Scenario planning has been built around School Closure for Christmas, Christmas Operational Service arrangements, and updated Grant payment commitments currently awaiting guidance.

Health & Safety & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The H&S Team continue to operate as required under Scottish Government Tier 4 restrictions providing continuous support to all services across the council, especially to schools and early year’s centres. The H&S Manager continues to review with Environmental Health and Education Officers, the infection control arrangements that are in place when positive cases arise. Reviews of risk assessment in educational establishments have been informing further controls where required.

The H&S Manager reported on statistics for Quarter 2 for all 2nd Tier H&S meetings taking place and the Team will be supporting 3rd Tier meetings for various services.

The Team continues to support and assess Display Screen Equipment users and have completed workplace assessments, including Homeworking. Where essential, in a coordinated approach with ICT Team, equipment and ergonomic chairs have been provided to staff who have required them as per DSE assessment.

The Team continues to support other services such as Assets and Property Maintenance when working in schools. The Team has worked to provide COVID-19 Risk assessment and procedures for issuing of devices for pupils and reviewing risk assessments for various activities that take place within schools. The Team is supporting Streetscene risk assessment updates and the latest Scottish Government guidance to be implemented for Tradespersons working in other people’s homes for Property Maintenance and to be able to carry out essential works during Tier 4 to services users where required.

The H&S team is continuing to support procurement team selecting suitable COVID-19 mitigating equipment such as screens for learning support assistants at schools and individual risk assessments working with HR Team.

Social Work Commissioning Team

No operational change as a result of the move to Scottish Government Tier 4 restrictions. The P&D team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations – essentially ensuring that throughout the pandemic and thereafter, services are safe, accessible and sustainable in the longer term.  

P&D has an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Adult Social Care 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.  P&D’s role involves daily update reports/analysis, service and financial monitoring, compliance, supporting providers/market management.

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

The P&D team co-ordinate and progress Social Care Sustainability Payments & 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.  A Governance Panel to consider the latest claims is due to meet later this month, with approved claims captured within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan. 

In line with national requirements, P&D continues to support the HSCP and providers to transition from Planned to Actual payments – effective from 1st December 20.  However, following increasing pressure from the sector, the Scottish Government has reviewed its approach – an announcement on the revised way forward is expected later this week. 

Engagement continues with providers and other Local Authorities to understand the challenges and strategies deployed in other areas.

Human Resources & Organisational Development

The team continues to support the return to work for employees and monitor the measures in place in partnership with Managers and Head Teachers.  The team are working very closely with Head Teachers and Managers on reviewing individual risk assessments and levels of risk for those individuals who were previously shielding and those with underlying health conditions.  This is to ensure that workplaces are as safe as possible. Advice on further adjustments and support is being provided by the HR Case Advisers.

Work continues in relation to trend analysis for consideration of impact on Services due to implementation of Tier 4 and any subsequent waves for future preparedness in addition 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. Work is underway to prepare and launch winter wellbeing information in advance of the festive period and will be available on the Employee Zone. Updates continue to be made as required. The team continues to receive daily calls on COVID reporting for various circumstances.  The implementation of a 7 day cover rota reflects the required response from the team to take action at the earliest point.   Advice and guidance to employees and managers on COVID related issues and absences continue to be supported by the HR & OD teams.

Cases are progressing where deemed appropriate for Discipline, Grievances and Absence with an assessment on whether these require to be virtual or in an office environment with all relevant safety measures being considered.

Essential training and face to face rolling recruitment for key front line roles is being progressed in line with Covid-19 risk assessments and appropriate safety measures. Key on-line training is being prepared for delivery relating to the need as a result of the pandemic including resilience training.

Business & Digital Change Team

Following the detailed updates in the Elected Member Technical Note issued in November, over 1400 eligible pupils across East Dunbartonshire will receive an iPad or Chromebook and connectivity device if required, to assist with home learning.  This work is ongoing in partnership with Education and ICT Teams.

The team have successfully rolled out Cashless Catering to an additional 12 schools.  The remaining 16 schools are scheduled to go live throughout January/Early February.  A new pre-order app has also been rolled out across all 8 Secondary Schools.   

A variety of workshops are being held to continue the programme of work for the new housing management solution to replace Saffron Housing. The replacement will consider the requirements for the future and fulfilment of digital services in the specification.

Business Systems continue to support and maintain the council's line of business systems and support transformation including developing an interim payments solution for Cashless Catering and EBusiness Suite Health Check. 

Legal and Democratic Services

Democratic Services

The team continues to support the Council’s COVID-19 civil contingencies response, supporting command structures at Council, local, regional and national level.  Work is still progressing on the recovery phase, lessons learned and in support of Test and Protect, however the changing circumstances are such that response activity is increasing.  In addition, Members of the Team continue to attend meetings of LARGS in support of these matters and are working across the network to look at concurrency issues through a series of thematic sessions.  These sessions seek to share development work and good practice in relation to issues that all Councils are having to revisit with a “COVID-lens” e.g. the impact of COVID on existing civil contingency arrangements for bad weather and other business as usual civil contingency events.  As part of this, the Team is reviewing the Council’s current civil contingency arrangements to identify necessary changes or supplementary requirements in light of COVID-19.  This is challenging in light of the changing environment in terms of the trajectory of infection rates and has to be flexible enough to adapt to developing circumstances e.g. the recent local lockdown and increasing national restrictions.

In addition to the above, work is continuing on detailed planning for the recurrence of COVID intermittently in the winter months.  Regular meetings are taking place both locally and at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at subject specific issues e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary.  In addition the Team is supporting colleagues in dealing with assistance for those isolating due to Test and Protect and more generally in response to current restrictions and other impacts of the increasing infection rates.  Further, officers are working up alternative rest centre plans which are COVID compliant eg which accommodate physical distancing and dedicated rooms for those isolating and/or shielding.

Recently, the Team has taken up a lead role in planning for mass vaccinations within East Dunbartonshire.  This work is progressing at pace given recent announcements and Members will be updated once there is a clear picture and thereafter at key stages.  Similarly, the Team is looking at plans for mass testing in the event that the Council is required to set up a facility for those who are asymptomatic. 

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. 

During November 77 Births and 168 deaths were registered, and 15 marriages were registered by Registration Services. 

Notwithstanding the pause in some of the workstreams around Care for People and Shielding, the Team continues to work to support governance matters and civil contingencies input in relation to Outbreak Management & concurrency issues as more services are “switched back on”, and is supporting colleagues in Place and Community Planning in these efforts locally and nationally.  This area of work is expected to increase in the next few weeks prior to Christmas  In addition, the Team continues to participate in work to capture the events of the last few months from a civil contingencies perspective, as part of a local, regional and national “lessons learned” exercise. 

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

Planning around EU Exit Planning continues to increase as regional, and national agencies (WoSRRP & CoSLA) continue to ingather information and activate existing regional planning groups.  Work to prepare for a no deal EU Exit is taking up more officer time and regular multi service meetings are working through the detail.

Members will be aware that work has commenced on preparations for the Scottish Parliament Election scheduled for May 2021.  This planning also requires additional attention as a “COVID-lens” is applied to conventional election workstreams on a local and national basis.  The work plan for this includes a review of the layout of all polling places and the arrangements for counting votes.  A small multi service team is being pulled together so that detailed planning can commence.  Contingency plans will be prepared which anticipate a resurgence in the virus and measures put in place to secure the availability of the core election team.  All aspects of the process and arrangements will be subject to robust risk assessments in order to protect employees, voters and candidates.  In addition to the above, a new Order has been laid which introduces the possibility of polling over more than one day and other significant changes.  This will be the subject of a separate Technical Note

The Team continues to work on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making.  The team is preparing for the impending cycle of virtual Committee meetings taking place up to the Christmas holidays.  A proposed cycle for January to June 2021 has been prepared and will be submitted for approval of Council on 17th December.  A calendar of meetings for 2021/22  is also in initial stages of preparation and is expected to be submitted to Council in April of next year..

Information Management

The team continues to support to services in relation to information management, data protection and data sharing, which are critical in these circumstances and has supported various services in the ongoing development and amendment of Privacy Notices and Privacy Impact Assessments for new workstreams and the establishment of information sharing agreements and protocols which assist the Council in its work to protect some of the most vulnerable residents.  In addition to supporting the Council’s postal mail services, the Team has been busy with print activity in support of schools and the recently approved Committee cycle.  In addition to the foregoing, the Team is working with services to identify potential data issues arising from EU Exit depending on where data is stored – ie the physical location of servers and data centres.  Work is also commencing 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.  The forthcoming Committee cycle will place additional demands on the team given its role in the administration of the report writing process.

Legal Services

Many of the Legal Services team’s resources continue to be dedicated to assisting Major Assets in the negotiation and conclusion of the Council’s capital projects and attentions are now focused on the negotiation of contracts and ancillary arrangements for the new Allander, Boclair Academy and Kirkintilloch Community Sports Hub projects.  Due to the nature of these contracts (in terms of complexity, scale and value), these are particularly time and resource intensive.  One of the main issues with existing and planned contracts is how they deal with the allocation of the responsibility for risks to the projects presented by not only Covid-19 but also the UK’s exit from the EU.  This requires sophisticated contract drafting and intense negotiations with contractors in order to ensure that the Council is protected but also that the best commercial terms are reached and the projects remain affordable.  Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s EU exit and the longer term impact of COVID-19, this has proven particularly difficult in recent weeks.

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. 

Further resource continues to be dedicated to interpreting, assessing and, where necessary, optimising or protecting the Council from the impact of the pandemic and the EU exit on its legal interests.  One particularly busy area of work continues to be in relation to the various grant offers, which the Council is receiving.  Each grant comes with terms and conditions which the team assesses and then advises the relevant service in relation to any potential risks or performance/reporting requirements.  This work can often be challenging - whilst the terms and conditions are not overly complex, the volume and increasingly short turnaround times within which the grant has to be accepted in order for the Council to access funds can at times impact on other work.

The team also works closely with the procurement team in ensuring procurement processes are complying with the changing law in this area and that the flexibilities offered by Government guidance are appropriately used.  This also involves the drafting and documentation of contracts with suppliers of goods, works and services to the Council and the contractual clauses on the risk to the delivery of contracts caused by Covid-19 and the EU exit have to be tailored to fit the individual nature and circumstances of each contract.

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

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.  The team is further assisting the Education service in respect of the implementation of new software to facilitate new approaches to learning and teaching both within the Council’s schools and remotely, as well as contracts for the integration of new IT systems and upgrades which apply Council-wide. 

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.

In respect of litigation, the implementation of Tier 4 status has set back the progress the courts were making in terms of  “in person” hearings and there has been a move back to virtual appearances, where possible,   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 board.  In conjunction with colleagues in Democratic Services, virtual meetings of the Planning Local Review Body, the Licensing Boards and the Civic Government Appeals Board are now taking place regularly with further dates now scheduled to the end of the calendar year.  Applicants and their representatives will continue to join virtually, where appropriate, and the meetings, where appropriate, will be streamed live on YouTube. 

The team continues to provide close support to colleagues in social work in respect of sensitive and important matters involving children, families and vulnerable adults some of which are particularly pressing at the current time.  These often require court appearances with very short notice.  The number of referrals and matters requiring legal support has significantly increased over lockdown and is requiring increased support from the Litigation & Licensing Team.  In addition, the Service has supported social work colleagues in collating and assessing information in respect of a major Inquiry. 

The team is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of lockdown in March and other matters which have arisen since.

The team is also representing the Council’s interests in respect of various employment issues, including disputes that have made their way to tribunal.

As always, the team provides strategic advice and support to its colleagues in other services on the full range of legal issues currently and normally facing the Council.  At the moment, that is particularly complex and resource intensive. 

Customer and Business Support services

Corporate Performance & Research

The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues to support data collation and analysis across all Council services and the HSCP social care services.  This includes regular reporting for statutory returns and local performance indicators as well as the ongoing reporting requirements in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Quality assurance improvements and data cleansing also continues across data systems used to ensure accurate data and confidence in data returns.  Whilst the next census has been moved from March 2021 to March 2022 as a result of the impact of Covid-19, planning work is ongoing with National Records Scotland in preparation.   

Support has been provided to all strategic portfolios in conclusion of 2019/20 performance reporting, for consideration by Council later this month and preparation is underway to conclude the Public Performance Report for 2019/20 for publication by March 2021 in line with statutory requirements

Insurance activity, including responding to insurance enquiries and liaising with Council insurers and claims handlers in relation to claims and claim outcomes continues.  The team has been supporting services with data, including area profile data and analysis for reporting and for the development and updating of policies and in the preparation of FOI responses.  Work continues with the GIS team in developing of interactive mapping for the area.

Communications

The Communications Team continues to provide 24/7 communications support for emergencies and essential out of hours messaging.  The Team supports the communications requirements of all service areas to ensure customers are aware of service delivery arrangements, highlighting changes if required across all channels to ensure maximum reach of message.

The focus for the website has been restructuring the Covid-19 pages to a stand-alone section and supporting services in ensuring content submitted for publication meets accessibility requirements that came in to force in September this year.

A total of 15 media enquiries were received and responded to over the last fortnight and four media releases were issues resulting in positive coverage locally for the Council following the Audit Scotland review reported to the November Council meeting:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/positive-performance-recognised-annual-audit-report

and coverage of messaging in relation to shopping locally to support local businesses and shopping safely in line with Coid-19 restrictions in the run up to Christmas, with free parking in town centres on Saturdays in December:

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/news/keep-eye-out-christmas-lights-and-please-do-all-you-can-stay-safe

Social Media messaging remains a key focus for communication with East Dunbartonshire communities, with 215 posts through the Council accounts over the last fortnight.  Twitter has 18,532 followers and the total reach of all posts in the last fortnight was 2.3 million.  The first gritting post of this year towards the end of November had a massive 317k reach ad 88 interactions, the second most popular post was on the move to level 4 restrictions on 20 November with a 45k reach and 57 interactions.  Facebook has 17,237 followers and a reach 404.9k over the last fortnight.  The post on moving to level 4 had a reach of 36.6k and 199 interactions, the post asking for consideration of our frontline workers following the move to level 4 had a 26.8k reach and 349 interactions and the shared Public Health Scotland post on a Covid-19 survey for parents had a 15.7k reach and 271 interactions.     

Customer Services

The Emergency Response Centre continues to provide customer support 24/7 for the hour care alarm service, CCTV monitoring and emergency communication across services out of hours as required. 

The wider Customer Services team is responding to changing numbers of daily enquiries, predominantly in response to local and national measures in relation to Covid-19.  Call volumes vary dependent on service changes and national announcements.  Clear signposting continues to be provided to the Council website and also to NHS and Scottish Government sources in relation to current health guidance and the national position in relation to restrictions in place to control the continuing spread of Covid-19.

Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance.  The appointment only based approach that has been introduced for licensing at Bearsden Community Hub continues to work effectively for the checking of original documents and issuing of plates/licences. 

Registration services (delivered by 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 continue to be delivered remotely from Kirkintilloch Community Hub with access to registration stationery for the provision and issue of official certificates and documentation.  Birth registrations are now being undertaken in real time with the lockdown backlog now having been addressed.  A strict appointment based system is also in place for the face to face appointments required for final stages of birth registration and marriage paperwork submission with preparatory steps completed remotely in advance.  Ceremonies are being delivered at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been risk assessed and appropriately signed for those attending in compliance with guidance and maximum numbers permitted.

Shared Services

The General Team continues to support the National Helpline, providing support to self-isolation and vulnerable people during the pandemic. As a result of being in tier 4, shielding individuals are being offered priority online shopping slots and the team have been taking requests and sending into the national system.  The number of calls being received in the last two weeks has fallen slightly as we see the impact that further restrictions has had on cases across the authority.   The number of proactive calls for self-isolating assistance is also reducing slowly with a further 183 since the last update. The Education support team is continuing the work of contacting parents of children who are entitled to free school meals and self-isolating payments while the pupils are away from school.  The Social Work team continues to deal with increased call volumes for referrals to all services including Homecare and administering the high volume of virtual meetings for the various conferences the service require.

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

Revenues and Benefits

The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to cope with a high service demand, particularly Crisis Grants. The ‘Self-Isolation Support Grant’ eligibility is changing from 7 December, which will increase the workload as numbers of applicants will increase. Non Domestic rates continues to see higher than normal levels of activity due to pressures facing local businesses.  We have received a number of Small Business Bonus applications from businesses that did not respond to our review. The cases have been prioritised by date and are now being reviewed and processed.  The rates recovery process has been placed on hold due to the authority being placed in COVID tier 4. We continue to work with our colleagues in Business Gateway on all the various Scottish Government grants to support businesses during the current period.

The Benefits team are still seeing high levels of applications, particularly for Council Tax Reduction. We continue to work through the Housing Benefit Accuracy Awards programme and will have reviewed all the required cases by the end of February 2021. Despite the increased cases, performance levels are being maintained.

Council Tax continues to have high volumes of correspondence and this is being prioritised by date order.  We continue to issue recovery action each month and deal with the enquiries from this as empathetically as legislation permits.

ICT

The Team continue to provide support to Corporate and Education estates including the provision of security patching and hardware swaps.  The Corporate Support Team have completed the configuration of devices for the new CM2000 app for the Homecare Team.  A large focus of the ICT Team is within Education to support the provision of digital devices for access to online home learning for pupils. Over 1000 devices have now been delivered to schools for issuing to pupils.  The team are also supporting the Cashless Catering project with 14 primary schools now live.  The Education Support team continue to support the schools ICT estate including system upgrades and deployment of new devices. Work also continues to provide support for the major assets projects at Southbank, new Boclair High School, and the 3 new Early Years buildings. 

Finance and Audit

This update is provided on the basis that all of the business as usual updates as previously reported to Elected Members continues to be progressed.  This included a range of activities across all financial teams ranging from the completion of Annual Accounts now reported to Council to cash flow management and Treasury Management Strategy.  Particular focus is given in this update to the continuation of those new and revised Council operations having previously moved into Tier 4.  This has extended our workload as new forms of funding are discussed for distribution and development of guidance around these.  This has now increased the workload of all Accounting Teams as the levels of Service support will require to be enhanced with any financial impacts monitored.  With work ongoing in relation to a number of additional grants it will be necessary for the Council’s internal audit team to validate and consult on new control processes.  The results of this work are being reported to the Audit & Risk Management week beginning the 7 December.  This reporting extends to those processes requiring appeals with independent review being called upon for the team.

The Council’s Chief Finance Officer continues to work with COSLA and the Directors of Finance to represents the best interests of Local Government and the Council.  A number of Tier 4 policy decisions directly impact the work of our teams with additional work likely to be required to discharge their requirements.  This requires engagement with these teams through our Command and Control arrangements to ensure that resources are in place so that timescales and reporting requirements can be met.

Technical Accounting

The team continues to work on maintaining and improving the Council's financial systems and controls.  The focus of this work may change with the potential for new processes to be developed following the Tier 4 announcement.  The technical team continue to provide support to the business support teams and revenues benefits teams in discharging associated grants to business and individuals.  This includes the development of guidance, completion of returns, and sharing VAT advice on national issues.

Revenue Team

The team continue to support the development of expenditure expectations in relation to Covid and tracking the various income streams to establish whether this funding is additional to support the anticipated financial gap or in the form of a grant to offset new, additional and required expenditure.  Having reported on Period 6 at the end of November next steps are to finalise Period subsequent reports for the Policy and Resources Committee in the new year.

With new restrictions in place following the Tier 4 announcement further engagement with all services will now be required and projections of year end spend updated accordingly. Work is ongoing to develop previous reports to provide clarity of the Council’s overall financial position despite the challenging circumstances which continue to change and new funding announced.  In addition the team is starting to compile initial expectations and documentation in relation to the 2021/22 budget with benchmarking information being collated between all 32 Councils as well as through external economic advice.  This is being applied within the Council’s financial model to provide initial expectations of future financial gaps albeit this remains at a very high level given the variability within the economy.

Treasury, Capital & Housing

The team are now focused on the impacts of Tier 4 restrictions on the Council’s cash flow including the impact of any intended borrowing decisions with Capital works continuing to slow.  The treasury team continue to monitor cash flow closely due to the increased financial transactions due to Covid ensuring that there is liquidity for all Council activities.  This including putting in place the new controls and procedures for paying the daily isolation grants and also the opening of our new bank account to enable enhanced cashless catering processes at our schools.  The team are engaging with Treasury advisors to determine the impact of potential fiscal flexibilities and the application of these in future years.

The Capital & Housing Team have now completed all audit requests and are now working on completing various year end returns for Scottish Government, along with the submission of our City Deal claim.  The team continues to work on producing and distributing our monthly capital & housing budget monitoring reports.  The Capital & Housing team is also currently working on 2021/22 budgets.

Internal Audit and Fraud

Internal Audit have started work on audits included in the original audit plan for the year including Health and Safety, the Highways Code, Control Self Assessments and School Funds (Education) and the team is also seeking to finalise audits that were commenced pre-covid such as ICT Contract Management and HSCP Financial Planning. Ad hoc support and advice is also being provided where required, albeit this is less of a focus than in previous months.

The Corporate Fraud Team continue to investigate various reports of fraud and undertake vetting on all applications received for business grants,  licences, housing, and school places. Corporate Fraud is also liaising with the relevant services and undertaking preparatory work in respect of submission of data for the forthcoming National Fraud Initiative data matching exercise.   

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 20 November 2020

HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning

All departmental and overarching Business Continuity Plans were updated during September as part of surge planning.  This is to ensure that lessons learned during the first active phase of Covid-19 during March to July 2020 can enhance service response to the current resurgence in community transmission and the challenges of winter.  A Covid-19 annex to the HSCP Business Continuity Plan provides more detailed information on essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements, arrangements to support and sustain commissioned services, arrangement for sustaining staff capacity and communications.  Local resilience planning and reporting continues to be undertaken through the HSCP’s fortnightly Local Resilience Management Team.  Virtual management team meetings are also well established and the HSCP Board resumed business from its June 25 meeting, albeit by virtual means.

Annual (2019-20) and Quarter 1 (March to June 2020) HSCP performance reports were considered by the HSCP Board at its September meeting, which provides indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19, across HSCP functions and services.  A Quarter 2 performance (July to Sept 2020) report will be considered by the HSCP Board at its next meeting in January.  An updated risk assessment will also be considered at that meeting.

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

The annual Flu Vaccination programme continues to roll out, which this year is available to approximately double the number of people in the community than usual due to a lowering of the age range (c.22000 people).  This has been logistically challenging for the Partnership, but feedback has been highly positive with 94.4% of people attending for vaccine reporting that they were extremely satisfied with the care they received.  Experience drawn from this extended flu vaccination programme will contribute to logistical planning for Covid-19 vaccination arrangements.

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

Public Protection

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

The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) continues its more frequent meetings, but with an agenda narrowed to focus on key areas of risk.  The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued to meet fortnightly and reports directly to COG.  This ensures management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection.  This group has included work to support early release of prisoners in collaboration with Housing services. 

Practices and processes for protection functions are updated in line with revised national guidance and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. A specific public protection covid-19 risk register has also been developed to support ongoing work.  Items of concern are noted and escalated to COG.   

Service Delivery Impacts 

Most social care services continue to be delivered on a business as usual basis e.g. statutory assessment and supervision services, care at home and residential care, although the way that these services are delivered has been impacted by social distancing constraints.  During the first wave, a number of services were suspended or reduced in line with social distancing requirements such as day services, group work, overnight residential respite and Unpaid Work.  Many of these fall into the category of congregate services, which has been the subject of separate Elected Member Technical Notes and direct correspondence with service users and families.  National guidance has been provided in relation to day services and respite services.  A Greater Glasgow-wide strategic approach has now been established to ensure consistency and best practice for the delivery of day services, in line with this national guidance.  Significant responsibility regarding the remobilisation of both purchased and directly provided services rests with local risk-based decision-making.   Alternative services have been provided where needed, with families and informal carers also stepping in to provide increased levels of support.  Voluntary support has also been arranged to provide ongoing contact and monitoring of need.  

The HSCP is working with EDC colleagues to consider the necessary risk assessment, trades union negotiation and practical amendments to enable more direct work with customers to resume as the waiting lists for service continue to rise.  The restarting of congregate services will be particularly carefully managed in the context of Covid-19 community transmission levels.

On 3 November, the Scottish Government published an Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan.  This plan sets out the measures already in place that must be retained and those that the Scottish Government believes need to be introduced across the adult social care sector, to respond to the expected pressures over winter.  This plan has significant impact for the HSCP and Council delegated services.  A local action plan is in preparation to take this forward, which will sit alongside the NHS winter plan.

Assessment and Care Management

Social Work assessment and care management referrals reduced sharply during the early stages of lockdown in the Spring, similar to the reduction in referrals to NHS services.  Referrals returned to pre-covid levels and assessment activity increased significantly during the summer, but the second wave has impacted once again on referral and activity numbers, albeit much less than during the first wave.  This trend is also being seen with fewer people presenting at hospital emergency departments.   The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services, mostly working from home, with physically distant customer contact wherever possible.  Adult physical disability and older people social work services have moved to a locality-based delivery approach from November, which should further improve links with primary health care and general practice.  New support planning tools have been launched in early November which support the HSCP’s Fair Access to Community Care Policy and allow us to more effectively capture and report how well we meet eligible support outcomes.

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

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

Direct Services

All of the Council’s in-house social care services continue to operate, with the exception of day services - Kelvinbank Day Service and Milan remain closed with staff providing cover into the care at home service albeit plans are underway to resume scaled back service delivery to those with a critical need for additional support.  The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis.  The remobilisation of services that are currently suspended for safety reasons will be taken forward in line with the guidance and approaches set out above, with alternative support being provided in the interim, in line with assessed needs.

Staffing pressures have been felt within the in-house home care service in particular due to Covid-19 infection management procedures, more so in the second wave than the first.  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 is access to testing for all social care staff who are symptomatic.  This testing is available regardless of who the staff member is employed by and includes the third and independent sector registered services.  The referral link has been shared with all registered service providers and in house service managers. 

In addition to the testing that has been rolled out to all care home residents and staff (services for older people and others such as mental health and learning disability services) where an outbreak is confirmed or suspected, as well as on a weekly rolling programme the national testing strategy continues to develop and we continue to respond to any new requirements this brings.  There has been some variability in turnaround times for laboratory results which has impacted on our ability to respond. The Scottish Government is looking to extend lab capacity on a regional basis to support this and we expect to transition to new arrangements soon.   

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 social care plan this group’s remit has expanded to cover all registered care services.

The Large Scale Investigation under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 previously referred to at one facility in the area has now been concluded. The care facility in our area which had been subject to Enforcement Action by the Care Inspectorate has now demonstrated most required improvements with a further extension allowed to 7 December for those outstanding.  The HSCP is actively providing support to this home which is also contending with a significant covid infection outbreak. A further small number of homes within the area have recently experienced covid outbreaks and we are working to support them to respond to this, with support from Public Health, however these have not been on the same scale.

Support to home care

The home care services continues to be increasingly busy, with a noticeable trend towards referrals for more complex and staff intensive care inputs. Challenges of caring for covid +ve customers has been a feature recently but all required PPE and support for safe use of this continues to be in place. The staffing impact of the Test and Trace system is beginning to be felt across the service and business continuity plans are being refreshed to support effective responses should this become a significant challenge.