PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 29 JANUARY 2021
ASSETS & FACILITIES
In line with the current lock down restrictions, cleaning staff including day cleaners are operating across all schools and Early Years sites and catering staff are working on a rotational basis providing hot lunches. Following the day cleaning recruitment exercise in December, 14 employees have commenced and a further recruitment exercise is underway to fill the remaining eight vacant positions, which will complete this exercise. An additional recruitment exercise is underway to fill vacant FM cleaning, catering and Janitorial positions across the Education and Corporate estate. Cashless Catering is currently being implemented on a phased approach in Primary schools with twenty two schools now operating the cashless catering system. The full roll out of this system will be completed early February 2021. The pre-order system is operational in Secondary schools which allows pupils to pre-order lunches from mobile phones and view orders and balance.
The current programme of Gas safety inspections are ongoing and we continue to make progress in reducing the backlog of inspections resulting from the current pandemic. The courts have issued some warrants to access properties which are overdue on their inspections and we have programmed visits for the second week in February. Further warrants are being issued at the start of February with the aim being to have the remainder of warrants issued by mid February. We continue to closely monitor inspections and aim to further reduce the backlog in the coming days and weeks. Void repairs are ongoing with progress being made on completing properties and we are engaging with one of our contractors to assist in carrying out works in order to further reduce the backlog as we continue to try and significantly reduce the number of void properties. We continue to carry out emergency and essential reactive repairs with the minor works element of the Care & Repair service still on hold at this time. Aids & Adaptation works continue and the Smoke and Heat detector installation programme remains active across the estate. Kitchen, Bathroom, Heating and Roofing replacement programmes remain on hold and will restart as soon as is practicable and safe to do so. Progression and completion of work across the Education portfolio continues. We have been actively involved in assisting with the set up of vaccination centres across East Dunbartonshire and we are working with key stakeholders to ensure everything is in place in preparation for the roll out of mass vaccinations.
Assets & Estates
Projects at Southbank House / KHCC and the Oakburn Early Years Centre are all in their final stages of snagging and handover is currently anticipated over the coming weeks. Construction continues at Lairdsland and Bearsden Early Years facilities. Productivity across each site continues to be impacted by the pandemic the programme impact of this in particular continues to be monitored closely by the Major Asset projects team.
Construction continues to progress well at Boclair Academy and Allander Leisure and Day Care Centre. Construction of the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex is scheduled to commence shortly, subject to the agreement of final contractual terms. Design and cost development continues to progress for the ASN project and the Stage 1 Report will be provided to Council in February 2021.
The Estates Management team continue to develop and manage servicing and maintenance contracts across the Estate, with a priority on regulatory compliance and building safety, and this work progresses on a continual basis. The team also continue to deliver a repairs services across the full estate with a current focus on priority issues within the Education estate.
In the non-operational (commercial) estate, the team continue to support both new and existing SME businesses with their property requirements, including the renewal of leases, coordinating repairs and sourcing premises. Support continues to be offered where necessary to tenants through rent deferrals and referrals to the business support team.
The Asset Management team continue to deliver a range of capital projects across the property estate. Work remains in progress at Lenzie Academy (3G Pitch Installation) and Hilton Depot (Drying Room / Canteen Refurb) and design work is underway to progress various projects within the School Estate Refurbishment Programme.
The team continue to deliver a range of capital projects across the Housing portfolio, including external rendering of properties in Waterside, window replacement and electrical rewire to void properties. Preparations are underway to re-commence kitchens and bathroom installations later in 2021 with colleagues in Property Maintenance when safe and appropriate to do so, roof replacement to mixed tenure properties and external wall insulation. This will be subject to the lifting of construction industry restrictions which currently prohibit non-emergency works within houses.
Housing New Build
Construction has re-started following the Christmas break at the former TJH site, Kirkintilloch and continues to progress well. Final contractual negotiations remain underway ahead of the construction of new affordable housing at the former Lairdsland Primary School site, Kirkintilloch; Blackthorn Grove, Lenzie and the Loaning, Kirkintilloch which is anticipated to start in March 2021.
The revised Strategic Housing Investment Plan (2021-26) and a corresponding update to the Council's Affordable Housing Investment Programme (2021-26) has been drafted and will be subject to a Report to Council in February 2021.
In the last 2 weeks the team have carried out 11 homelessness appointments and there have been 11 calls to the out-of-hours service. There are currently 4 rooms available in First stop, 2 in the multi occupancies and there are no homelessness applicants in B & B. There have been a high number of referrals to the Rent Deposit Scheme and to Welfare Rights. Housing Support continues to be provided remotely and the members of the Homelessness Team have been offered the vaccine.
Housing Operations Team
6 properties have now been signed up since coming back after the Christmas break. The Housing Operations Team continues to work closely with PM with the aim of reducing the back-log of void properties as quickly as possible. To date, 119 new tenancies have been created since the start of this financial year. A void dashboard has now been created allowing real time info on current number of voids, where keys are sitting and number of voids received and allocated since 1st April - this is being used by housing and property maintenance to assist in addressing any backlog.
The team continues joint working with Legal, Police Scotland and Community Safety teams to deal with anti-social behaviour cases, through progressing Short Scottish Secure Tenancy conversions to try and resolve on-going noise issues and tenancy matters of a more serious nature.
Systems and Policy Update
The Housing Service is 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 statement - performance monitoring. 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. The new Local Housing Strategy is due next year and the team will be reviewing and working on this throughout 2021 once we have the result of the HNDA3. The team are also looking to gather as much real time information across the housing sector and publish this on the Council website to ensure that the public have access to our performance information in line with the annual assurance statement.
The Rents Team continue to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support continues to be offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of pandemic or are struggling to pay their rent. There continue however to be tenants who do not pay and/or engage and the service is now issuing arrears letters to these tenants. There are no current court actions for rent arrears taking place as we cannot carry out any evictions 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 where required to ensure that income is maximised where possible. Current rent arrears are £1,313,400 (week 42), this is an increase of £220k at same week as last year.
Proposals for the 2021-22 rent levels will be included in the budget paper to Special Council in February.
An online TPWG meeting was held on 21 January 2021 with the group and individual tenants being consulted on the options for rent levels in the coming year.
LAND PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Planning Applications and Building Standards
The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible. In accordance with the relevant risk assessment planning and enforcement site visits are continuing to take place under the current local and national restrictions. Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible. Similar to Planning, site visits are continuing to take place in accordance with the relevant risk assessment for those properties and sites only where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate.
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, including a significant number submitted over the festive period 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 and consultation took place between October 2020 and 15 January 2021. Over 2000 representations have been received and officers are logging these in order to acknowledge them and will begin analysis and drafting of the Council’s response. Future updates will provide more details on this process. Officers are also working on planning guidance, the historic environment designations review, which is currently being consulted on following a LDP Working Party, and site specific projects such as Kirkintilloch Gateway.
The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan was reported to Council on 1 October 2020. The Plan draws together actions across the Council and those being progressed by economic partners as part of delivery of Local Outcome 1. It is a live document, reflecting the ongoing nature of the public health and economic crisis 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 are being analysed. Work has commenced on initial project planning for a Circular Economy Strategy.
A Draft Parking Management Plan is currently being worked on by officers ahead of it being presented to the Transport Working Group for discussion. Work has commenced on initial project planning for the next Active Travel Strategy, which replace the 2015-20 Strategy. These are two of a number of actions in the Local Transport Strategy, approved in March 2020, which is currently being progressed by the Land Planning Policy Team in conjunction with other Services.
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. The Council’s Climate Change Public Bodies Duties annual report was submitted to the Scottish Government by the November deadline and indicates that the Council’s 44% carbon reduction target for 2019/20 has been achieved. A report proposing a 49% carbon reduction target for 2020/21 will shortly be reported to PNCA Committee, along with proposals for the preparation of a new Climate Action Plan. This will set a new 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 zero direct emissions, and how the Council will align its spending plans and use of resources to achieve its emissions reduction targets.
Consultation on the draft Glasgow City Region Climate Adaptation Strategy, prepared by Climate Ready Clyde in partnership with East Dunbartonshire Council and other partners, closed on December 24th. The Strategy is now being finalised and an Action Plan prepared. The finalised Strategy and Action Plan will be reported to Council this spring.
Work on the Council’s other key Land Planning and Sustainability Strategies and Plans is ongoing. This includes ongoing policy development, continuation with consultation using electronic methods and plans and strategies being presented to Council for approval.
Work progresses well for a number of key projects that the GIS team are leading on and supporting. With the completion of the Local Development Plan 2 project, the team are creating a web application that will allow officers in shared services to accurately plot and analyse safe walking routes for school placement requests, due to be completed by March. This web application will utilise Ordnance Survey products such as OS Highways, Pathways and Place names, which will then be configured as required by the . The team are also collaborating with Glasgow City Council, the Digital Office and the NHS to create a Covid-19 case tracker. This will show real time cases of Covid-19, recorded by the NHS within the East Dunbartonshire boundary. This is due to be completed by the middle of February. The team are also planning a programme of work that will ensure the accuracy of address data with the Scottish Assessors Association and other key stakeholders. This is to support the issuing and recording of postal ballot votes for the upcoming May elections. Finally, the team are continuing to liaise with the Planning, Building Standards and Validation officers to ensure that any issues with the IDOX application are resolved swiftly.
The City Deal team is now established and recruitment completed. 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.
The internal City Deal officer working group continues to meet to oversee the development of the projects and update reports will be provided to Council on a regular basis.
Regeneration & Town Centres
The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October. Project activity and progress is being maintained via virtual meetings and electronic communication. The team are pleased to report that the new Antonine Wall Play Park in Peel Park Kirkintilloch is scheduled to be completed for early February. . Designs are being developed for phase 2 of the Milngavie Public Realm project. The project will mirror the phase 1 design which created an attractive gateway to the start of the West Highland Way and will be managed by the Milngavie BID with support from the team as required. Officers continue to develop a project brief and plan in partnership with Land Planning Policy and landowners which aims to create a new Kirkintilloch Gateway Masterplan aimed at encouraging 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. Work continues supporting a number of local groups and organisations to deliver Scotland’s Towns Partnership “Love Local” fund projects which will help town centres and local businesses adapt to and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.
Officers have also received confirmation of funding from the Scottish Government for the Twechar Outdoor Pursuits, Training and Education Centre with £1.1m being secured from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund to support this local project which has been developed in collaboration with the local community.
The Strategic Framework Grants which were launched in November continue to provide funding to businesses impacted by restrictions or closure with additional funding made available by the Scottish Government. These grants are designed to be paid 4 weekly in arrears and align to the five tier framework. Additionally a new one off top up payment for ‘retail’ and hospitality businesses has been announced, and processes under the Strategic Framework Fund. Final guidance has only recently been received and those eligible will be paid in due course.
The Private Hire & Taxi Fund went live last week, and the Council has already received a large number of applications.
A number of other Scottish Government Funds have been announced which local authorities are likely to be required to implemented soon. These will be undertaken following completion and provision of guidance to local authorities. These grants include: Indoor Sports Facilities, Brewers and Travel Agent one off grants; Mobile Close Contact Services Grant; B&B Grant; New Self Employed Hardship Grant; and a Discretionary Grant. A new support fund for the wedding sector is being rolled out and managed by Scottish Enterprise.
Ongoing weekly reporting to the Scottish Government on each of the grant programmes continues and these reporting requirements are increasing as more funds develop.
The Business Support team are working closely with other relevant teams across the Council, and they continue to play a central role in the coordination and implementation of ongoing Covid 19 business grant support. Additional support from across the Land Planning & Development, in particular the Place & Development Service, has been allocated in order to try manage these work streams.
The team are receiving a very high level of enquires relating to current funds and future funds. Working with the Corporate Communications Team, more guidance is being made available on the Council's Business Support page to try encourage businesses to seek information via this route.
Business Gateway tries to continue to deliver its normal service provision and is experiencing increased demand for support across all sectors. Redundancies and business closures are on the increase with trade not returning to the same levels for many businesses.
Traffic and Transport
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. More widely officers are involved with colleagues from across the City Region on the development of a regional Bus Partnership funding bid.
Work is ongoing with the appointed Design Consultant on developing 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
Waste Services -
The Waste service continues to deliver a full range of services at present and collections are operating normally for residents. The team have recently pulled together some statistics for the ongoing service provision and as highlighted below the increase in demand continues to be well above normal service levels.
General Waste Kerbside (Increase 20.73%)
March to December 2019 16761.56
March to December 2020 20236.33
Christmas Tree / One-off Garden collections (w/c 23rd January) - Total of 1145 completed.
Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection
Collections are operating normally for residents with increased recycling tonnage being identified.
Green Waste Collection
To date the service have completed 1145 Christmas Tree / One-off Garden collections as requested by residents. This is in addition to disposal of real Christmas trees in one of two skips placed at the William Patrick Library car park, Kirkintilloch or Mavis Valley Recycling Centre, Bishopbriggs over the period. The main garden waste collections will recommence again in March 2021.
Bulky Collections (Special Uplifts)
The Waste team continue to deliver the Special uplift service with demand remaining consistent over the four week period. The front line crews continue to be deployed daily to meet this need and are substantially managing to deliver this service within the standard timescales for collection of 10 working days throughout this period. Some delays can however be experienced where there is a requirement to deploy a tail-lift vehicle to uplift very large items such as sofas which cannot be uplifted by the standard refuse truck.
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 open and operational at this time and demands continue to be managed in line with current restrictions. As highlighted by the increased tonnage figures identified below, there has been a dramatic rise in general waste disposal at the centre over the course of the pandemic, with an increase of some 61% on the same period last year.
The Council's Corporate Communications Team has created an online video message to remind residents of the rules to be followed and important operational information, should there be an essential requirement to visit the site.
General Waste Mavis Valley (Increase 60.97%)
March to December 2019 4798.04
March to December 2020 7723.60
Clyde Valley Household Waste Transfer Station
Update - 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. The Waste Management Licence for the existing Transfer Station has now moved across to Viridor Clyde Valley in preparation for Operational handover on the 1st February.
Waste Shift Leaders have now been inducted on to site and a training programme for all drivers is being rolled out to Waste and Streetscene Operatives this week.
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.
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.
The transport team continue to support colleagues in Education and Facilities Management for ASN School Transport and 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 & COMMUNITY PLANNING
The new Covid-19 strain identified at the end of 2020 is prevalent with increasing incidence in the community, and therefore all associated work continues to create a significant demand for Environmental Health Officers. Environmental Health staff are still 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.
East Dunbartonshire Council is currently placed in Level 4 of the tiered strategy within the The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 as amended. This means that all hospitality premises, non-essential shops and services, accommodation and leisure services amongst others are required to close and the public advised to remain at home unless to leave for essential purposes. Recent amendments to the Regulations mean amongst other things that the public cannot enter takeaway premises and must be served outside through a door or hatch or have the food delivered. It is also not permissible to drink alcohol outside.
Environmental Health's general programme of proactive visits to hospitality settings to assess compliance with legislation and the Covid-19 controls that are in place is presently on pause whilst current restrictions are in place, but compliance visits to premises are continuing for the purposes of responding appropriately to Covid related complaints. An exercise to examine the suitability of the mitigation measures currently being adopted by our local supermarkets and takeaway premises will also be delivered over coming weeks, along with revisits to any premises where intelligence suggests that control measures may have been in any way relaxed.
The team have received many requests from local businesses for advice on what the tier system means for their operation and officers will continue to provide advice in line with the latest amendments to the Regulations and guidance. Other routine service requests such as food complaints continue to be received. The team are sampling foods from local businesses to assist in national monitoring surveys to ensure safety, composition and labelling requirements are adhered to. The importance of food safety and food standards compliance continues to be significant during the course of a wider public health pandemic.
Away from business regulation, officers 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 requests. 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 ramifications of the EU Exit Deal are also being carefully considered, especially with reference to implications in relation to the import and export of food products. Furthermore, Food Standards Scotland has given advance notice of the expectation for the Official Food Control Recovery Plan to be implemented by Councils. This is likely to generate very significant extra work over the coming months with the current presumption being that inspection programmes should recommence in spring.
Under current restrictions, non-essential retail including close contact services such as hairdressers, beauticians and aesthetics providers require to close along with gyms, indoor visitor attractions, ski slopes and home improvement showrooms. The loopholes in the Regulations relating to an exemption for homeware and hardware retailers have also been closed.
The Team continues to receive a number of enquiries from local businesses about whether they can trade and the methods they can use to trade. In particular, the team have received enquiries from non-essential businesses regarding click and collect. The Scottish Government has now addressed click and collect in relation to non-essential businesses and the regulations have been amended specifying premises that can provide permitted collection services. The Scottish Government will review the level 4 restrictions at the end of January, however, they have indicated that the restrictions are not likely to be lifted at that time. Trading Standards Officers will continue to monitor compliance and take appropriate action in cases of non-compliance.
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.
Officers continue to receive enquiries from businesses who work within people's homes and traders who operate from their own home. Trading Standards Officers continue to monitor fitness and exercise operators.
There has been an increase in the workload in the areas of scam prevention, product safety, fair trading, metrology and petroleum.
We have now exited the EU, and anticipate an increased workload in relation to the changes made by leaving the EU. Officers will continue to receive training regarding changes to Trading Standards legislation brought in by the withdrawal agreement. Officers have undertaken e-learning courses on the changes to Trading Standards legislation, including fair trading, e-commerce, metrology, product safety, animal health, and cross-border matters in advance of the changes which are now in place. Officers have received enquiries from importers looking for advice on the new requirements and duties placed on them.
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.
The team continues to deliver a range of essential, emergency and ongoing work. Service delivery activities have been tailored and prioritised to coincide with the requirements of the level 4 Covid restrictions and lockdown measures which are currently in place across East Dunbartonshire.
Investigation of instances of fly-tipping continue to feature heavily and officers have been working closely with colleagues in Police Scotland to take robust enforcement action in relation to a number of offences. 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 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 2020. Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced 14 September 2020. During the current period of restrictions, the focus for the Community Wardens in relation to decriminalised parking enforcement has been centred around our town centre areas. 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.
All successful applicants of Round 1 of the 2020/21 Community Grant Scheme have now been advised of their award. A return date for grant acceptance forms has been set for 1st February 2021 and payments will be made as soon as possible thereafter. Round 2 of the Community Grant Scheme is still open for applications and the closing date for applications is 5th February 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic the application process is entirely online, with officers available to provide groups with support if needed. Current restrictions will be considered as part of the assessment process and applications which demonstrate innovative, and COVID-19 compliant, programmes and ideas sought. Groups can apply for funding up to a maximum of £3,000 provided they have a constitution and a bank account, are not for profit, aim to bring benefits to the residents of East Dunbartonshire and contribute to the priorities of the Local Outcomes Improvement Plan and help tackle inequalities.
Community development work and support continues remotely in all of our Place areas. Engagement with our community and voluntary sector lead EDVA is ongoing re a range of supports to local individuals, communities and groups during the pandemic. With a number of local volunteer networks established to support these efforts.
ROADS & ENVIRONMENT
Streetscene Operations are currently assisting with footway gritting as part of the winter maintenance programme and undertaking the following tasks:
1. Litter routes/Street cleansing, including removal of waste from bottle banks and fly tipping
2. Pitch Lining
3. Clearing Culverts
4. Assisting in cemetery duties
5. Play Park inspections
6. Compact sweeper cleaning pavements and Bears Way, and removal of leaf fall
7. Pitch Lining
8. Cutting back overhanging foliage overhanging footpaths/schools
9. Removal of Christmas Trees
10. Winter squad continue with gritting of schools, Covid vaccination centres, cemeteries as well as assisting with litter/fly tipping
Streetscene Technical Support
Drainage works commenced at North Woods, Lenzie Moss to alleviate flooding of paths.
Woodland management at Kilmardinny House awarded and will start 26th Jan. This will take the form of removing small diseased or weak trees and removal of Laurel and Rhododendron in selected areas. A screen for the adjacent houses will be retained.
New fencing complete at West Balgrochan Marsh.
Left over hyacinth bulbs from the schools competition donated to Ceartas Advocacy and included in isolation wellbeing packs sent to vulnerable residents in Twechar, Bishopbriggs and Hillhead
Ongoing project development, responding to open space, tree, play and cemetery enquiries and internal consultations.
Mugdock Country Park
- Lockdown restrictions continue at Mugdock Country Park with offices, Visitor Centre and toilets closed. Most businesses have also now closed with the exception of the Stables Tearoom which is selling takeaway refreshments through a hatch;
- Carparks, paths have been ploughed and gritted when necessary as has the approach road to the Park;
- Christmas trees, lights and festive window scenes have all been taken down and packed away for next year;
- Some work is being carried out in the Maintenance Yard to improve layout and signage;
- The Playpark and Adventure Trail have had play bark and play sand topped up and other maintenance tasks have been carried out in these areas;
- Pot holes have been filled at East Car Park and a similar exercise will be carried out at Khyber Car Park;
- Work is continuing on the updated Mugdock website and on developing on-line shopping facilities;
- Fire safety training has been carried out by all staff following a FSRA; and
- The tender for traffic counters has been awarded and the new counters will be installed by the end of the financial year;
Technical & Engineering Services
Principal and General Inspections are continuing, with abnormal loads also being processed and preparation ongoing for the capital program for coming financial year.
Works that have now been completed by our structures term contractor:
- Nicholson Bridge, Kirkintilloch joint repairs and resurfacing works.
- Luggie Water Bridge, Kirkintilloch Concrete repairs and re pointing.
- The replacement of low bridge signs.
Works to commence early February:]
- Allander Bridge on Boclair Road, joint replacement.
- Inchbelle culvert on Kilsyth Road, repairs and rebuild.
- Alnwick Bridge on Crow Road, waterproofing and deck refurbishment.
Assisting Drainage with site supervision at Bencloich culvert, Lennoxtown.
Drainage and Flood Prevention
Upgrading a collapsed drainage system at Kinglass Road will finish this week and our contractor will then start an upgrade to the drainage system on Kirkintilloch Road at the junction of Park Road Bishopbriggs.
The newly appointed Drainage Officer will be in the post early February.
Officers are preparing a capital program for next year.
Works that are about to commence or are ongoing include:
- River Glazert River Restoration project - Site investigation works start this Month. This will inform the detailed design.
- Golf View Flood Alleviation Scheme, Bearsden - The contractor will be back on site early February to undertake fencing works with landscaping to follow in Spring 2021.
- Bencloich Burn, Bencloich Road, Lennoxtown - Our contractors have lifted heavy concrete covers off the culverted section and cleansing of this section is ongoing. It is intended to undertake remedial works i.e. pointing and also raise the existing height of the masonry walls to minimise any overspill from this section. Due to the poor condition of the heavy concrete covers these are to be replaced with metal mesh gratings so the watercourse can be seen and will allow easier inspection and maintenance.
- Our contractor will undertake River Kelvin Flood Defence Scheme planned maintenance and remedial works at various pumping station locations following annual service visits.
The team is shorthanded due to Covid-19. However, some inspections to monitor the quality of road works associated with developments are still taking place. The team keeps up to date with notifications on the road works register.
The team are assisting with the set-up of the mass vaccination centres, offering advice about access, signage and restricting non-emergency road works in the local area.
Procurement exercises are underway for a traffic calming gateway project at Milton of Campsie, a traffic survey contract and a lining contract.
There is regular liaison with Police Scotland Traffic Management department.
Continuing with identifying and refurbishment of lining/signing on the road network, continuing to respond to Legal Services on licensing applications and processing dropped kerb and disabled bay applications.
This is in addition to the usual tasks of responding to planning applications, FOI requests and customer enquiries.
Roads Network Operations
The Roads lighting operational team have now completed the removal of the decorations on all Christmas trees to allow for their removal. Due to the current restrictions and concerns surrounding the new COVID 19 strain the team have restricted any works which involve close contact to only essential operations all other Christmas decorations will be left in place until restrictions are eased.
The team will continue to respond to all reports of street lighting issues throughout the lockdown period to ensure defects are repaired within the required timescales.
In line with current restrictions the Roads Network Team will continue, on a rota basis, to carry out essential road safety repairs where social distancing can be maintained, including reports of road defects across the network. Our Winter Maintenance operations are on going and we have completed a number of gritting actions over the last few weeks in response to the cold weather, ensuring carriageways and footways are treated regularly. In addition we respond to any reported emergency issues reported across the network through the full 24/7 period.
To assist colleagues in Education and the Facilities Management team with outside learning within our Schools the Roads team have developed treatment plans for all School playgrounds which will be treated throughout the winter season by Streetscene seasonal personnel and School site coordinators. This action will be done in line with Footway Gritting Operations to ensure a consistent approach is taken. Despite the current lockdown, the Streetscene seasonal staff continue to treat these areas to ensure the safety of and staff and key worker children still attending school over this period.
The team is continuing to weekend support colleagues in Waste with the operation of Mavis Valley Transfer Station, providing traffic management to assist with the control of vehicles accessing the site.
With the opening of COVID Vaccination Centres at Milngavie and Kirkintilloch Town Halls, roads operatives have been supporting with the supply of marshalling and additional gritting operations to ensure safe access is maintained to these centres.
Roads Inspectors continue to carry out all statutory safety inspection routes as well as investigating issues reported across the road network. As operations by utility companies have now increased the inspectors along with the Utility technician have commenced inspections of their operations as required. Inspectors and technician are now continuing to review and process and permit applications submitted to the Roads authority.
The lighting technical team continues to work on ongoing tasks suited to home based working such as processing inventory records, updating and data cleansing. Officers have returned to site inspection duties and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. 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 when welfare and vehicle issues are resolved.
EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 29 January 2021
Schools and early years centres are open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. The number of children in our schools is in line with the national average. This can cause pressure on parents, who are working from home or are not designated as a key worker. However, it is important that the number of children in schools is kept to a minimum at this time in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.
The provision of remote learning continues to be the main focus for schools and the local authority. The central Quality Improvement Team have worked with head teachers to audit provision. All schools are delivering a programme that includes live interaction with pupils; this may be a live lesson, a recorded lesson or the opportunity for live engagement with pupils. Good practice has been shared and advice given to schools. Where changes were required these have been made. The Quality Improvement Team are developing self evaluation processes for schools and the authority, this will include feedback from parents, staff and pupils. There will be engagement with Parent Council Chairs and with representatives from Pupil Councils over the next few weeks as part of the evaluation within the authority. The focus is ensuring the quality of remote learning provision taking account of the feedback from parents, staff and pupils.
The feedback from parents has been overwhelming positive and it is clear that considerable progress has been made with digital learning since the last lockdown in March. The inspectorate within Education Scotland have detailed a programme to evaluate the delivery of remote learning. This will include engagement with the local authority as well as individual schools. The report on the local authority was published last week and we are well on track to address the recommendations within it. Engagement with 5% of schools will continue – this means one primary and one secondary school within the Council – and the feedback from this has been very positive to schools within the Council who have been involved.
If the reopening of schools in August was challenging then it is even more challenging now! The information we have is that there are three criteria informing decision making within Scottish Government:
- The rate of community transmission rate;
- The information on the new variant in relation to children and young people;
- An assessment of the educational and development needs of children and young people
It is clear that there will likely be a phased return to school with some year groups returning before others. The provision of remote learning will continue to be the main provision for many children for some time to come. There will be more information next week. The biggest concern is related to the pupils in the Senior Phase. Older young people are deemed to be more at risk from the virus but these pupils are the ones that need to be in school to complete assessments. We can anticipate there will be a return for Senior Phase pupils but the operational difficulties will be considerable. In particular there will have to be clarification on the physical distancing required within classrooms and the school. Timetabling is always difficult in a secondary school and this will require to be carefully considered. Once the guidance is issued, we will work with secondary head teachers to put the arrangements in place and ensure clear communication with parents.
The arrangements for the National Qualifications have still to be finalised by the SQA. The date for submitting the estimated grades has been extended to 18 June; this will give a few more weeks for the moderation and assessment process to be concluded. However the biggest concern is ensuring that pupils have completed sufficient course work and the assessments to inform the process. The assessments need to be done in school to ensure they are valid and reliable. There will be a focus on moderation within the local authority in ensuring a robust process is in place to validate the professional judgements of teachers. The Quality Improvement Officer is working with secondary schools to implement moderation procedures in line with the guidance from the SQA.
The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services with significant workstreams around major assets, Property Maintenance contracts and other needs across services such as Education, Housing, Business & Digital Change Projects, and Roads. Renewal and award of various contracts continue with various key ICT system requirements being progressed at this time.
The team continues to monitor supply chains for PPE stocks and other critical supplies. The operating arrangements and support to services have been updated for all services to ensure sufficient supplies and emergency procedures where required. PPE demand is monitored from the Stores location, and is managed/facilitated by the Procurement team.
Procurement are also currently supporting key work streams, these include Mass Vaccinations, City Deal, the new Integrated Housing Management System, Transport Service arrangements and Supplier/Partner provider support in line with COSLA guidance.
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 to support Scottish Government payment requirements.
End of year processes for invoices and payments are currently being reviewed and resources aligned to support the increased demand on the Service.
The team continue to process Free School Meal Payments for the period of School closures and are supporting ongoing applications in line with Scottish Government Guidance. Payments (£20 per week per child) up to the 12th February 2021 will be paid by 29th January.
Health & Safety
The Health & Safety Manager continues to review with Environmental Health Officers the infection control arrangements that are in place when positive cases arise in different services. Reviews of risk assessment have been informing further controls where required.
The Health & Safety Manager has supported the implementation of the Targeted Vaccination Sites as well as Health & Safety guidance and support for the COVID Mass Vaccination sites. Engagement on site and with NHS colleagues continues leading up to 1 February go live.
The Team continues to support and assess Display Screen Equipment users completing workplace assessments and working collaboratively with ICT to respond as required. The Team also supports Individual Risk Assessments and provide advice as required on measures and response required based on individual and workplace considerations.
The Team continues to support the wider Health & Safety governance and compliance working with frontline services such as Property Maintenance, Roads, Streetscene, Waste and Homecare to continue to ensure a best practice approach to all Health & Safety matters.
The Fire Safety risk assessors continue to look at the work schedule for 2021. The H&S Team continue to operate and respond as required under Stay at Home regulations providing continuous support to all services across the council, especially Education.
Social Work Commissioning Team
Planning & Development team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations – essentially ensuring that throughout the recent Stay at Home Regulations, services are safe, flexible and responsive to changing needs and are sustainable in the longer term.
Planning & Development continues to have an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Adult 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. This includes daily update reports/analysis, service and financial monitoring, compliance, supporting providers/market management. A key priority over the coming months is the roll out of the C-19 vaccination across care homes and community based services.
Planning & Development held a Provider Forum to discuss the weekly testing processes and the necessary support, reporting and impact analysis. Discussions will continue in the coming weeks.
Planning & Development continues to support Social Care Sustainability Payments & Care Home Occupancy payments for providers who, as a direct result of Covid-19, have incurred additional costs relating to infection control, PPE and/or losses due to reduced occupancy. The Scottish Government has recently published updated guidance. All approved claims are captured within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan and thereafter, providers submit invoices to P&D team for recording and payment purposes.
Human Resources & Organisational Development
The team supported the resourcing arrangements for the COVID Mass Vaccination Sites with the preparation of correspondence, FAQ’s as well as specific guidance as required.
Trades Unions engagement on a weekly basis has been focused on strategic issues such as targeted vaccination updates, workforce vaccine programme, weekly testing processes as well as risk assessment and required actions to respond to strategic issues in the Stay At Home regulations.
Engagement continues with Managers on the support for Individual Risk Assessments based on Stay At Home regulations and Scottish Government advice. The response and review will continue to be monitored throughout this time.
Work continues in relation to trend analysis for consideration of impact on Services due to implementation of Stay at Home Regulations and any preparedness in addition to regular statistical updates.
Absence analysis and support continues with priority focus within HSCP. Detailed scrutiny of the absence performance across all services continues with engagement taking place to understand required support and actions for improvement. Work continues to prepare and launch winter wellbeing information and will be available on the Employee Zone. Updates will 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 remains in place. Advice and guidance to employees and managers on COVID related issues and absences continue to be supported by the HR & OD teams.
Work continues to enhance the Employee Zone pages with updates and additions to the Wellbeing page to reflect Healthy Working Lives campaigns going forward in February and March.
Key policy work is nearing conclusion on the review of contract templates for new starts and internal appointments going forward.
Business & Digital Change Team
The Business & Digital Change Team continue to lead the delivery of a range of multi-disciplinary projects across the organisation including the continuation of Cashless Catering and the inclusion of pre order app for universal free school meals provision.
Business Systems have recently completed development of an Application Register which will be used to prioritise resources and activities ensuring the councils digital assets are up to date and aligned to the councils operational and strategic business needs.
The team continue to collaborate and work in partnership with The Digital Office around future opportunities to progress our ‘Once for Scotland’ approach. A key priority at present is our transition from analogue to digital telecare which will transform the way health and care services are delivered.
Work has continued to finalise the requirements specification for a new Housing Management solution. In addition, soft market testing has been undertaken to test the commercial market and gauge interest from suppliers.
The team continues to support the responses to schools based on technology required to support Home Learning. Close working with ICT and Education support continues.
LEGAL & 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 support for the most recent recurrence of COVID. Regular meetings are taking place both locally and at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at current issues and also future planning e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary. 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 finalising alternative rest centre preparations to ensure that the temporary centre is COVID compliant eg which accommodate physical distancing and dedicated rooms for those isolating and/or shielding and fully stocked and ready for use.
Recently, the Team has taken up a lead role in planning for both mass vaccinations and community testing within East Dunbartonshire. This work continues at pace given recent announcements and both centres (Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre and Allander Leisure Centre) are due to open on 1st February. Initially they will operate from 8.30am to 4.30pm but the internal layout and workforce arrangements have been structured to allow this to be scaled up as required. . Discussions with colleagues in NHS GG&C and other local authorities have been taking place daily (and often more than once a day) in order that centres are ready to commence vaccinations on Monday. Similarly, the Team is leading on planning for community asymptomatic testing across East Dunbartonshire. This is where the Council is required to set up a testing facility in communities where there is a significant spike in infection rates and/or where there are persistently higher than average rates. These centres will be used to test those who are asymptomatic and are intended to identify where individuals have COVID-19 in order that they can quickly self-isolate and contact tracing can be triggered. Detailed planning commences next week and the Team is looking at options for a fixed ATS facility which can be supplemented by home testing and mobile testing units as appropriate. . In addition, waste water surveillance can be organised via SEPA.
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.
As at 27 January 2021, 40 Births and 121 deaths were registered, and 3 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 increased in the few weeks following Christmas, but is starting to subside again as infection rates start to fall. 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 ongoing local, regional and national “lessons learned” exercises.
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 and fulfilment of the “All Risks” approach to the various concurrent risks across the country.
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.
The Team continues to work on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making. A proposed cycle for January to June 2021 was prepared and approved by Council on 17th December, however Members will be aware that most meetings up to the end of March have been stood down due to the resurgence of COVID-19 infection rates and the consequent lockdown. Notwithstanding, Council meetings will take place and quasi judicial boards where there is urgent business. The Legal & Democratic Services Management Team is examining the best use of available resources to accommodate this important area of work while sustaining our support for Covid response [particularly planning for Community asymptomatic Testing and Mass Vaccinations], and extensive additional preparations for the Scottish Parliament Elections. A further calendar of meetings for 2021/22 is also in initial stages of preparation and is expected to be submitted to Council in April.
The team continues to support to services in relation to information management, data protection and data sharing, which are critical in these circumstances and has supported various services in the ongoing development and amendment of Privacy Notices and Privacy Impact Assessments for new workstreams and the establishment of information sharing agreements and protocols which assist the Council in its work to protect some of the most vulnerable residents. In addition to supporting the Council’s postal mail services, the Team remains busy with print activity in support of schools and Committee cycles. In addition to the foregoing, the Team is working with in relation to the classification and preservation of information generated by the Council’s response to the COVID pandemic
SMT Support & Members Support Teams
The SMT Support team is working with the CMT and SMT to assist in the re-introduction of services across portfolios and continue to support other areas of the wider service and beyond as required. The Team continues to support the CMT, SMT and Departmental Management Teams with processes for remote meetings, production of Committee Reports and Elected Member Technical Notes. The Members Support Team also continues to support Elected Members.
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. The recent developments in the pandemic have made an impact on the construction industry and, as a result, the Council’s projects. Complex negotiations and drafting are required in order to protect the Council’s commercial position and programme but also to ensure the long term sustainability of the pool of contractors. Separately, whilst full details of the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU upon labour, materials and exchange rates emerge, delicate drafting is required to future-proof the Council’s interests in these projects.
In tandem with this, the team is also guiding the Housing Service in respect of delivery of its many capital projects and in the recommencement of open market purchases and shared equity buy-backs to increase the provision of affordable housing within East Dunbartonshire.
The team is also assisting with the initial contracts required for the City Region City Deal project with the first of these agreed and signed during the Christmas break.
Further resource continues to be dedicated to interpreting, assessing and, where necessary, protecting the Council from the impact of the pandemic and the EU exit on its legal interests. In tandem with this the team endeavours to ensure that any potential benefits to the Council are optimised. One particularly busy area of work continues to be in relation to the 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. At the moment the team is assisting with some urgent procurements which have some complicated features and, as such, need detailed legal advice to ensure compliance and minimisation of risk.
The team is also playing a key role in the project team appointed to deliver a new Integrated Housing Management System for the Housing Service. The market for such systems is such that procurement of this project is complex and requires a high degree of legal project management and support. Coupled with this is the drafting and negotiation of bespoke IT terms and conditions to ensure that the system delivers as 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. These pieces of work have gained significant momentum over recent weeks and the team has assisted education to get the required technology and agreements in place to facilitate home learning.
The team has also been supporting the Council where required in terms of the legal and property requirements for the roll out of mass vaccinations and testing.
On top of this, the Commercial team is endeavouring to carrying out its “business as usual” activities where required in support of a Council priority. These include land transactions and commercial agreements, which seek to improve the Council’s commercial position. The team has also been involved in many data sharing and IT agreements, including licences to other partnering local authorities in respect of applications developed by the ICT team for education purposes. In respect of litigation, the progress the courts were making in terms of “in person” hearings has stalled and there has been a move back to virtual appearances, where possible. There are, however, some matters which necessitate team members physically appearing in court. Current ongoing actions in court relate to housing, social work, licensing and employment matters. The team also continues to support the Council’s services in the management of various complex matters, which are currently at the pre-litigation stage, in an effort to mitigate effects on the Council. In addition, the team is currently preparing for a public inquiry in relation to a compulsory purchase order. This is the first compulsory purchase order that has been promoted by the Council in some time and the team, having limited previous experience of the process, is navigating it ably.
A significant amount of work is dedicated to the running of quasi judicial boards. In conjunction with colleagues in Democratic Services, virtual meetings of the Planning Local Review Body, the Licensing Boards and the Civic Government Appeals Board are now talking place, albeit that they are temporarily paused. However, during this period the team is still busy with dealing with applications, renewals and queries from application/agents.
The team continues to provide close support to colleagues in social work in respect of sensitive and important matters involving children, families and vulnerable adults some of which are particularly pressing at the current time. These often require court appearances with very short notice. The number of referrals and matters requiring legal support has significantly increased during the pandemic and is requiring increased support from the Litigation & Licensing Team. In addition, the Service has supported social work colleagues in collating and assessing information in respect of a major Inquiry.
The team is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of 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.
As always and due to the nature of the work of the team, there are many matters which the team is working on which are confidential and sensitive and further detailed information cannot be given on these.
Resources in Legal Services have been depleted recently and the sharp increase in demand for its services has put significant pressure on the team. In addition to existing projects, the team will be required to support the delivery of the City Region City Deal project. This has necessitated investment in the team in the form of a substantial recruitment exercise to fill a variety of new and existing roles. That process is well underway and members of the Legal Services management team are spending significant time in shortleeting and interviewing in order to make the correct appointments as quickly as possible, taking into account notice periods etc. The first of the new recruits will join the team this week, with others to follow, including a new Team Leader for the Litigation and Licensing team, in the coming weeks. The intention is that by Spring 2021 the team will be much better resourced to be able to continue to support the Council through the projects and challenges which lie ahead.
CUSTOMER & BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES
Corporate Performance & Research
The Corporate Performance & Research Team is supporting data collation and quality assurance for performance reporting including the preparation and submission of statutory returns and local performance indicators as well as wider data analysis across Council services and HSCP social care services and ongoing reporting requirements. Quality assurance improvements and data cleansing activity has also been carried out across data systems and remains a focus to ensure accurate data and confidence in data returns. Planning is ongoing and engagement continues with National Records Scotland in preparation for the next census which has been delayed a year in response to the pandemic and is now due to take place in 2022.
Following the conclusion of Performance Reporting for 2019/20, reported to Council on 17 December, the Public Performance Report (PPR) 2019/20 is being updated to incorporate LGBF data for 2019/20 ahead of design and publication. In line with our local developed approach this will incorporate case studies to highlight good practice and the PPR is aligned to the key LOIP principles and themes.
Work is continuing to support performance reporting for 2020/21 and agree timescales for committee approval ahead of recess in June 2021 and planning for BIPS and performance reporting for 2021/22 is also underway. Work will also continue in the coming months to develop the corporate performance aspirations highlighted in the strategic review of strategic planning and performance that was presented to Council on 17 December as part of the report on Prioritising our Services, Prioritising our Resources. Work is also progressing on the Council’s insurance renewals.
The Communications Team continues to provide 24/7 communications support for emergencies and essential out of hours messaging. Communications support and advice is provided across all Council services the East Dunbartonshire HSCP and EDLC Trust to ensure customers are aware of service delivery arrangements, highlighting changes if required across all channels to ensure maximum reach of message. Internal communications have continued to focus on ensuring the workforce is aware of the latest guidance and the continuing review of risk assessments and workplace Covid-19 measures in line with updated guidance to ensure the safety of all employees and sharing the Public Health and Scottish Government guidance as this is updated and renewed.
Engagement also continues with Regional Resilience Partners, CoSLA and UK and Scottish Government Departments to co-ordinate consistent communications around Covid-19 and EU Exit messaging and communications planning around mass vaccination and mass community testing.
In the past fortnight, a total of 14 media enquiries were received and responded to and 4 media releases were issues resulting in positive coverage online and print media for the Council. Media releases past fortnight have been on: the consultation on planning protection for historic buildings which is available online until 26 February; the child car seat safety clinics being conducted online as a consequence of Covid-19 restrictions; the railing art installed at Mains Park in Milngavie which was designed by pupils at Clober Primary School; and the announcement of the two mass vaccination centres being established in East Dunbartonshire.
Communications support for the development of the mass vaccination centres in East Dunbartonshire has included liaison with and co-ordination of local authority engagement with the NHSGGC communications team, design of the internal and external signage for the centres and filming and production of ‘what to expect’ videos and development of a Vaccination Centre web page with links to the national helpline and transport support, due to go live later today (Friday 29 January).
Social Media messaging remains a key focus and effective channel for engaging with East Dunbartonshire communities, with a total of 164 Facebook and 283 Twitter posts issued through the Council accounts since the last update. Twitter has 18,738 followers and the total reach of all posts in the last period was almost 2.43 million. The highest reaching posts on twitter this past fortnight were the announcement of the Arts Council Grants with a 37k reach and 40 clicks, the Environmental Health recruitment post with just under 36k reach and the Primary School registration reminders with a 35.8k reach and 58 clicks. On Facebook the highest reaching posts were the announcement of the two mass vaccination centres in East Dunbartonshire with a 43k reach and 675 interactions, the announcement of the Scottish Government support fund for taxi and private hire drivers with a 15.6k reach and 143 interactions and the post reminding adults to keep their distance at playparks and for outdoor play with their children, in line with Covid-19 measure, with a7.3k reach and 93 interactions.
The website continues to be updated daily and new pages created to meet service and messaging requirements. An animation on the measures in place to keep everyone safe at Mavis Valley Household Waste and Recycling Centre has also been created for social media:https://www.facebook.com/edunbartonshirecouncil/videos/3971754956176509
The Emergency Response Centre continues to provide customer support 24/7 for the hour care alarm service, CCTV monitoring and emergency communication across services out of hours as required.
The wider Customer Services team continues to respond to changing priorities and fluctuating numbers of daily enquiries, predominantly in response to local and national measures in relation to Covid-19. Call volumes and response times have stabilised following the post-Christmas high demand in relation to Christmas tree recycling and free school meal and hardship grant enquiries and requests. Customer service resources continue to be deployed flexibly across the channels with greatest demand and call waiting times are continually monitored.
Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance with a strict appointment-only based approach for the necessary face to face elements required for licensing at Bearsden Community Hub, which continues to work effectively for the final checking of original documents ahead of issuing of plates/licences.
Registration services (delivered by Customer Services Agents/Assistant Registrars) continue to provide 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase, in line with current guidance. Death registrations continue to be delivered remotely through telephone appointments from Kirkintilloch Community Hub. Birth registrations are being undertaken in real time with a preliminary telephone appointment prior to a face to face appointment for the final stage and signing of the register. A strict appointment system is also in place for marriage paperwork submission. Ceremonies are being delivered at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been risk assessed and appropriately signed for those attending. Ceremonies are in strict compliance with current lockdown guidance and maximum numbers permitted.
Shared Services continue to support the National Assistance Helpline providing advice and support to residents on the shielding list and vulnerable individual. In addition to incoming calls, the team are also making outgoing calls to residents who have been asked to self-isolate. The high levels of infection in the community has been reflected in more than double the number of outgoing calls when compared to the weeks before the festive period. The Education support team are reviewing the bills for Early Years customers to provide updated bills from February. The transport team continue to administer changes to requirements for ASN, main stream and Social Work requirements.
Revenues and Benefits
The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to cope with high demand on the services we deliver, particularly Crisis Grants. Additional resources are being redirected to support this area of work as a priority. There remains an increased number of cases across all areas of benefits including DWP ATLAS lists. The Benefits area is 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.
The team are working with colleagues in Business Gateway on all the various Scottish Government grants to support businesses during the current period. Non Domestic rates is still continuing to see higher than normal levels of work considering the pressures facing local businesses. Work also continues on preparations for the financial year-end and Council Tax annual billing, working with Business and Digital Change colleagues.
The ICT Team continue to provide support across all areas of the Council including those working from home. The Education support team are continuing to provide support within schools for staff and pupils, as well as pupils that have been issued with devices for home learning.
Work is ongoing to support pupils learning at home and an additional 150 devices have been distributed since the last Members’ update.
The Team have been working with the Business & Digital Change colleagues to implement recommendations after a health check on the e-Business suite (Oracle Financial System). The team have also been supporting Democratic Services in the planning for our mass vaccinations centres and continue to support the major asset team in planning for the delivery of new build projects for the Council.
FINANCE & AUDIT
Work continues on a number of business as usual activities as previously reported to Elected Members. These efforts continuing throughout our teams. Some opportunity was taken during the holiday period to reduce annual leave balances however with urgent payments requiring to be made for new Scottish Government priorities and essential ledger maintenance many Officers managed holiday commitments alongside supporting the ongoing Council efforts
Having previously moved into Tier 4 the Council is now managing new Lockdown arrangements. The Finance Team continues to engage with services to understand the impact of these arrangements and the attributable costs. This work will inform future discussions about funding with new announcement on funding. Otherwise the process of business grants administrations continues to be challenging to manage with new forms of funding requiring administration and the development of guidance. This continues to increase the workload of all supporting teams with enhanced financial monitoring being required. With work ongoing in relation to a number of additional grants it will be necessary for the Council’s internal audit team to validate and consult on new control processes. The results of this work have now been reported to the Audit & Risk Management on the 10 December with this generally being reported as satisfactory. 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 represent the best interests of Local Government and the Council as efforts increasingly turn to budget setting and year end outturn. Work is also ongoing to review the requirements, guidance and notifications required to put in place a number of additional fiscal flexibilities to assist the Council as part of its future financial planning. The team is actively working with COSLA to inform the Scottish Government budget process making representations in a number of core areas for future funding.
The team continues to work on maintaining and improving the Council's financial systems and controls. The focus of this work may change with the potential for new processes to be developed following recent 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. A number of new grants, reporting requirements and other policy initiative continue to ensure that the work of the team continues at a pace and to support other teams within the Council.
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. Period 8 monitoring is now being finalised and will likely be reported via a technical note in the near future.
With new restrictions in place following the Tier 4 and Lockdown 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. This work has now been consolidated into a single tracker and circulated to Executive Officers to ensure good governance and to aid reporting. In addition the team is starting to compile more detailed expectations and documentation in relation to the 2021/22 budget with benchmarking information being collated between all 32 Councils as well as through external economic advice. This is being applied within the Council’s financial model to provide initial expectations of future financial gaps albeit this remains at a very high level given the variability within the economy.
The Revenue Team has also completed to consolidation of the high level budget for 2021/22 which will inform the next steps of the Budget Setting process.
Treasury, Capital & Housing
The team is now focused on the impacts of Tier 4 and Lockdown 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 is now completed all audit requests and are now working on completing various year end returns for Scottish Government, Capital Budgets and the submission of our City Deal claim. The 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 continued to work on audits included in the original audit plan for the year including Corporate Health and Safety, the Highways Code, Control Self Assessments and School Funds (Education) and the team is also seeking to finalise the last of the audits that were commenced pre-Covid. Appeals have been received from some businesses whose applications for the Strategic Framework Business Fund were rejected and Internal Audit are again providing an appeals service which has required the rescheduling of some audits. The Team and the audit plan remains flexible, whilst recognising the need to review adequate evidence for the Chief Internal Auditor's annual opinion. The Team is also providing support to transitional the operation process for reviewing HSCP provider additional cost claims based on the previous work undertaken by Internal Audit.
The Internal Audit Team are also progressing the recruitment of resources to the vacant Auditor post with an offer now being made and accepted. This recruitment will assist with the additional audit work now being required as new operational, control and governance processes are implemented to react to the Council’s approach to Covid-19.
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 29 January 2021
HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning
All departmental and overarching Business Continuity Plans continue to be in place. A Covid-19 annex to the HSCP Business Continuity Plan provides more detailed information on essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements, arrangements to support and sustain commissioned services, arrangement for sustaining staff capacity and communications. These business continuity frameworks will continue to be updated in response to presenting and projected pressures and developing guidance. Local resilience planning, surveillance and reporting continue to be undertaken through the HSCP’s fortnightly Local Resilience Management Team. Virtual management team meetings are also well established. At present active consideration is being given to applying risk rating to service delivery as a result of the workforce impact of infection, the resumption of shielding, and general sickness absence. As transmission rates have increased again since December and in response to Scottish Government correspondence on the matter, the HSCP Board has established temporary revisions to normal business processes from its meeting on 21 January, in order to reduce the duration of meetings, with a reduced focus.
Performance and activity reports continue to be prepared for consideration by the HSCP Board as normal. These provide indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19 across HSCP functions and services, as well as reporting on normal business activity and performance. A Quarter 2 performance (July to Sept 2020) report was considered by the HSCP Board at its meeting in January 2020. An updated risk assessment was also presented for consideration 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 HSCP is also linking with the Council and NHSGGC on ensuring consistent decision-making and communication on service prioritisation and transition planning.
The targeted Covid-19 vaccination arrangements for high risk groups are now well underway. All care home residents that were clinically fit to receive their vaccine and consented to it have now been vaccinated. The HSCP has also been supporting GP practices in the delivery of vaccinations to the over 80s. These are being delivered across two main sites at Kirkintilloch and Milngavie Town Halls, in addition to GP surgeries. These are due to complete within the first days of February. GPs will then move on to vaccination of those aged 75 to 79 using the same delivery model.
Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it.
Public protection work, which includes child and adult protection, drug and alcohol services, and a range of justice services, continues to be prioritised. Protection referrals are exceeding pre Covid rates.
The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) continues its more frequent meetings, but with an agenda focussed primarily on key areas of risk, but with an increasing return to business items. The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued to meet fortnightly and reports directly to 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, 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. A number of these services are now resuming, or have already resumed, working on a revised and much reduced capacity basis, including Kelvinbank Resource Centre. The service has been working to provide alternative forms of support where possible.
A weekly report is prepared to highlight delivery status across all HSCP essential services, staff availability levels and operational team contingency arrangements.
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 place to take this forward, which sits 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 less than during the first wave. This is not a reflection of operational capacity, but a reduction in presentations. Numbers of East Dunbartonshire residents going to and being admitted to hospital are now climbing significantly again and delayed discharges are becoming a significant pressure again, and are now above pre covid levels, largely due to challenges in moving people to appropriate long term care settings which are closed for covid reasons. The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services, mostly working from home, with physically distant customer contact wherever possible.
Contact and Monitoring is being maintained through digital mechanisms and phone calls wherever possible, whilst fulfilling the requirements of statutory orders and public protection requirements, although in line with Scottish Government guidance face to face contacts for the most vulnerable and at risk has been increased.
The Persons at Risk Database (PARD) that was been established to identify HSCP service users requiring ongoing contact during the Covid-19 response time period continues to be actively used. Numbers on the PARD remain static at around 5700 people. Those who do not receive a direct and ongoing care package e.g. home care, are contacted on a frequency that is defined by the assessed level of risk to their welfare and levels of need.
All of the Council’s in-house social care services continue to operate, with the exception of day services which are operating on a very limited basis only, for a small number of individuals with particularly complex needs. The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis.
Staffing pressures have been felt within some in-house services due to Covid-19 infection management procedures, particularly since December. The home care service and learning disability supported living services have been most affected, with contingency arrangements being escalated to ensure priority cover and service continuity. Joint working with trade union colleagues has been very positive in responding to issues on the ground.
A pan NHSGGC group on day services has been convened, led by the ED Interim CO, and has produced a document setting out the shared and collective approach to day services over the winter period.
Testing for Social Care Staff
There continues to be access to testing for all social care staff who are symptomatic and regular weekly testing is now being rolled out to all social care services who support at risk adults. This is 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. The national testing strategy continues to develop and we continue to respond to any new requirements this brings. In addition, vaccination opportunities are now being rolled out in line with Scottish Government prioritisation.
Support to Care Homes
A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP is routinely provided 5 days a week and over the weekend where this is required. In line with Scottish Government requirements the HSCP has in place a daily safety ‘huddle’ to oversee the position of each local care home. Following publication of the national social care winter plan this group’s remit has expanded to cover all registered care services, with an action plan in place to take forward these provisions.
No care homes in our area are currently subject to either a Large Scale Investigation under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 or Enforcement Action by the Care Inspectorate. A number of homes have experienced Covid outbreaks since December and currently seven homes in our area are classed as having an active outbreak. Appropriate support is being provided.
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-positive 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.