Technical Notes 2021, Issue 67 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Service Updates

Report by: 
Gerry Cornes, Chief Executive
TN Number: 
067-21
Subject: 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Service Updates (18 June)
Responsible Officer: 
Ann Davie, Depute Chief Executive – Education, People & Business, Thomas Glen, Depute Chief Executive – Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets
Publication: 
This Technical Note will be published on the Council’s website following circulation to Member. Its contents may be disclosed or shared outwith the Council.
Details: 

Please see attached below our service updates.

As previously advised, this is the last prior to the summer recess.

To ensure that you are kept updated on matters arising during the summer recess, we will continue to issue ad hoc subject specific technical notes and we will provide a final comprehensive services update on Friday 30 July 2021. With the planned recommencement of a full cycle of meetings from August, we will revert to our previous communications, including ad hoc subject specific technical notes, and will cease to issue these comprehensive fortnightly service updates.

PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 18 June 2021

ASSETS & FACILITIES

Facilities Management

With the return of all pupils to Secondary, Primary schools and Early Years sites, cleaning and catering staff including day cleaners have returned to normal working arrangements and a hot lunch menu is available daily. Recruitment is on-going to fill various vacant cleaning, catering and Janitorial positions across the Education and Corporate estate.

Oakburn and Lairdsland EYC are operational with contracted cleaning and Janitorial staff supporting the daily operation of these facilities.  The lunch provision is exported from identified Secondary schools which includes a hot meal choice.   Handover of Bearsden EYC has been achieved and FM is supporting Early Years staff in preparation of the opening to staff and children.

Planning is underway to support Snack n Play and Playschemes during the summer period within eight identified Primary schools and this consists of Janitorial, Cleaning and Catering resources.  The service is also supporting the operation of Early Years facilities during the school holiday period with the provision of hot lunches and cleaning resources.

With the extension of free school meals to Primary 4 and 5 pupils (P4 August, P5 January 22), the service has identifying the additional catering resources required to deliver this and a recruitment exercise will commence shortly to ensure resources are in place for the commencement in August.  In addition to this, the service is working with colleagues in Education and Fleet to support the extension of free school meals.

Property Maintenance

Gas Safety inspections are ongoing and we continue to closely monitor inspections to ensure ongoing compliance across the housing stock with all properties having their annual service carried out within the anniversary date. The service's process for gaining access to properties is currently being reviewed with a procedure which will negate the requirement to obtain warrants to be agreed imminently. This will be hugely beneficial to the service and we look forward to implementing this change in the very near future.

Progress continues on reducing the number of void properties with the implementation of improvement measures having a positive impact on operations as we continue to look at ways of improving service delivery in this area. Emergency and essential reactive repairs are ongoing and we are making good progress in addressing the backlog of non-essential repairs and this will continue as restrictions ease going forward. The Care & Repair service is ongoing across the area and has been well received since it's recent resumption. 

Aids & Adaptation works continue with good progress being made in the completion of these works. Smoke and Heat detector installation programme is ongoing across the estate as we remain on track to achieve the Government target date of February 2022 for completion. Heating, Kitchen & Bathroom upgrade programmes are still on hold and will be programmed to re-start as restrictions continue to ease and it's safe and practicable to do so.

Roofing replacement are ongoing as we continue to liaise with suppliers on the supply of materials for these works. Progress continues in carrying out reactive and larger scale refurbishment works across the education and non-housing stock with external decoration works at Hillhead Primary School programmed to start this week. Further decoration works across the estate is being surveyed with programme dates to be agreed in due course. We are due to start larger scale internal decoration works in temporary accommodation properties in the coming days and this will continue going forward as we look to have this work carried out in house.

We are currently assisting with the set up of asymptomatic testing booths across the district with one site recently completed.

Assets & Estates

Good progress continues to be made at Boclair Academy and Allander Leisure and Day Care Centre.  Contractual terms are almost concluded for the new Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex, the re-tendering exercise has now finished and a revised Stage 2 Report was submitted to Council in June.

Design and cost development for the ASN project remains on-going and a Stage 2 Report for the project is due for consideration by Council in due course. Scottish Government has advised that it will not be calling in the Planning decision and this allows consent to be issued by the Council.

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 service across the full estate with a current focus on priority issues within the Education estate.  In the non-operational (commercial) estate, the team continue to support both new and existing SME businesses with their property requirements, including the renewal of leases, coordinating repairs and sourcing premises. 

The Asset Management team continue to deliver a range of capital projects across the property estate.  The new 3G pitch at Lenzie Academy is now complete.  Design work is underway to progress various projects within the School Estate Refurbishment Programme and pre-construction preparations are now underway for a range of works across the school estate during the Summer break 2021.

Housing Capital

The team continue to deliver a range of capital projects across the Housing portfolio, including roof and window replacement, as well as 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.. 

Pre-construction preparations are underway for the delivery of the EES: ABS programme which will deliver further improvements in energy performance to homes across East Dunbartonshire.

Housing New Build

Construction continues to progress well at the former TJ House site, Kirkintilloch and is now underway at the former Lairdsland Primary School site, Kirkintilloch, following completion of the demolition phase in early June 2021 (anticipated completion Feb 2023) and Blackthorn Grove, Lenzie (anticipated completion December 2021). A smaller site is also being delivered at the Loaning with commencement anticipated in the coming weeks.

A procurement route is in the process of being devised for a further 13 sites to be delivered over the next 5 years, with pre-tender activity currently focussed on site investigations and design work.

HOUSING

Homelessness & Prevention

The majority of the Team continues to work remotely from home, however a small number of the team are now working from the Office on a reduced rota.  Homelessness/Housing option interviews have increased in recent weeks; 19 appointments completed last week with a further 7 arranged for this week.  There are currently 207 homelessness applicants awaiting the offer of settled accommodation. The homelessness out of hors service has been quieter than last year when the pandemic started.

First Stop, Ravenswood and Canal Project are at full capacity.  There are no households in bed and breakfast and no breaches therefore of the temporary accommodation order.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week in May, households at our Ravenswoood Service were busy!  This year’s theme was Nature so the group organised nature walks, watched a David Attenborough video where he talked about the Benefits of the natural world for mental health, they organised a mood cafe and had a pizza night that focused on mental health.

As part of the Council's Rent Deposit/Private Sector Scheme, 5 households have been supported to move to settled accommodation since April 2021, reducing the applicants waiting time for settled accommodation and reducing pressure on Council temporary and settled accommodation stock.

The Council's Landlord Registration Officer has arranged mini training sessions (1 hour) alongside Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS) for private landlords in the area, these will take place during June and August 2021. 

  • Preparation for possession actions – Wednesday 30 June 2021 – 2PM
  • Property condition and property management session 1 – Thursday 5 August 2021 – 2PM
  • Property condition and property management session 2 – Thursday 19 August 2021 – 2PM

Housing Operations (Estates)

The Housing Operations Team continues to work closely with Property Maintenance to minimise the void turnaround period.  There are currently 35 properties with the void team undergoing repairs.  Since the start of this financial year 65 properties have been re-let and 66 properties have become void.

There have been 18 new anti-social behaviour cases raised since the start of the financial year and the Estates Team continue to work closely with Police Scotland and the Community Safety Team to deal with these cases. In relation to anti-social behaviour - 1 tenancy has been converted to a short Scottish secure tenancy - this has been converted in line with legislation and with assistance from the Legal department.

Rents

The Rents Team continue to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support is being offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic or they are struggling to pay their rent.  There are still tenants who do not pay and/or engage. The service has been issuing arrears letters since late 2020 and has now restarted serving Notices of Proceedings in an attempt to get responses from tenants who are not paying.  There are no current court actions for rent arrears taking place as Coronavirus (Scotland) Act regulations has banned evictions and is now being reviewed every 21 days by the Scottish Government.  The rents team continue to support and assist as many tenants as they can with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also referring to CAB, where required, to ensure that income is maximised where possible. Rent arrears levels were £1,248,300 (week 10).

Tenant Participation

An online TPWG meeting was held on Thursday 10 June 2021, with the next meeting scheduled for Thursday 26 August 2021.

Systems/Policy

The Policy Team is busy progressing the tender for consultancy work to allow the Local Housing Strategy (LHS) to be reviewed this year, hoping to have the tender out on Friday for 2 weeks.  Working closely with local planning in relation to the Local heating & energy efficiency strategy which will link into the LHS.

ARC return was submitted to the Housing Regulator on the 31st May and any amendments required will be submitted by 30th June.  An update on our submission will be presented to the Tenant Participation Working Group during August.  The meeting will also have a representative from the Scottish Housing Network in to present the benchmarking statistics.  A copy of 'Your Housing News' will be issued to all tenants in late August/early September to ensure that everyone is made aware of the Housing Service's performance in what has been an unprecedented year to date.

The Scottish Government (SG) return was also submitted on the 4th June which provides Housing statistics in depth from the past year. The Integrated Housing Management System tender has been published and will be advertised for 8 weeks, with the aim being to evaluate tenders during August. Lock up refurbishment work has now concluded at Victoria Place in Milngavie and the programme has now come to an end.  The next Project for the team will be the garage ground site review, which will progress from August onwards.  Loft conversion and extension pilots are still running and we hope to progress this work in the coming months now that tenders have been received. Performance monitoring work will start from the end of Quarter 1 to ensure performance is monitored regularly.

The systems team continue to provide daily processing assistance including direct debits, rent account creations etc.

LAND PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT

Planning Applications and Building Standards

The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible.  In accordance with the relevant risk assessment planning and enforcement site visits are continuing to take place under the current local and national restrictions.  Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible.  Similar to Planning, site visits are continuing to take place in accordance with the relevant risk assessment for those properties and sites only where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate.  Monthly updates are now to be provided to the Scottish Government Building Standards Division to help monitor performance of Building Standards at a national level. Both the Planning Applications and Building Standards teams continues to receive the number of applications expected by this point in the financial year. 

Scottish Government have today (18 June 2021) written to the Planning service confirming that they will not call in the planning application for the Additional Support Needs School at Waterside Road in Kirkintilloch. The Council can now determine the application and grant planning permission for the development.

Officers are preparing for the forthcoming Planning Board on the 22nd June following the Enhanced Members briefing session on the 17th June

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 were received and acknowledged and officers have analysed and drafted the Council’s response.  A Local Development Plan Working Party was held on 28 April 2021 to provide detailed updates and the Council’s response was approved at PNCA Committee on 27 May 2021.  All documentation will now be submitted to Scottish Ministers who will appoint a Reporter to lead Examination of LDP2. Officers are also working on planning guidance, the historic environment designations review, which consultation closed on 31 May 2021, and site specific projects such as Kirkintilloch Gateway.

The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan was reported to Council on 1 October 2020.  The Plan draws together actions across the Council and those being progressed by economic partners as part of delivery of Local Outcome 1. It is a live document, reflecting the ongoing nature of the public health and economic crisis.  Consultation took place in November 2020 and the findings and ongoing data analysis have been used to update the Economic Recovery Plan.  The Economic Recovery Plan has been approved and promotion of the Plan is being undertaken. Work has commenced on initial project planning for a Circular Economy Strategy.

A Draft Parking Management Plan has been produced by officers and was discussed at the Transport Working Group on 22 April 2021. The Draft Plan was considered at PNCA Committee on 27 May 2021, and approved for consultation by Council on the 17th June.  Consultation on the Draft Plan will take place later in the year.  The commencement of the next Active Travel Strategy has been approved and engagement through an ‘Active Travel Discussion’ began in May 2021.   This was also considered at the Transport Working Group in April.  These are two of a number of actions in the Local Transport Strategy, approved in March 2020, which is currently being progressed by the Land Planning Policy Team in conjunction with other Services.

Initial work on the preparation of a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the Council is under way.  The first stage of this was an early engagement exercise - the ‘Climate Conversation’ – which closed on 2nd May.    The consultation exercise invited people across our communities to join online events and complete surveys to share their views on climate change, how it is already affecting them, and the action they think the Council needs to take to respond to the climate challenge.  The outcome of the Climate Conversation was reported to Council on 17 June along with proposed next steps for the preparation of the Climate Action Plan.

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 was subsequently finalised and an Action Plan prepared and these were approved by Glasgow City Region Cabinet on 1 June.  Full details of the new Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan was reported to Council on 17 June for endorsement. 

Work is commencing on a new Greenspace Strategy for the Council, to replace the existing Open Space and Green Network Strategies and will be prepared in the context of the Glasgow City Region Green Network Blueprint.  A report covering work already completed on auditing of open spaces in East Dunbartonshire, and a draft audit and action plan covering the Council’s play areas, along for proposals for the preparation of the new Greenspace Strategy was presented to PNCA Committee in May.   Early engagement on the Strategy will be undertaken in June and July.

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

The GIS Team this week welcomed a new technical officer to the team.  New Priorities are now being set and discussions with other teams to identify where GIS can be utilised to improve collaboration, analysis and workflow are ongoing.   The team have as usual been supporting various departments throughout the council.  With Community Protection, the latest results from the NO2 Air Quality tubes has been received and will be published to allow analysis to be carried out.  Work has continued with the Housing Service on the tendering of a new IHMS, ensuring that the system has the ability to utilise the UPRN for One Scotland Gazetteer Conventions.  The team have also been working with food licencing, developing reports required by HMRC and have completed work on 3 new developments for Street Naming and Numbering.

City Deal

The City Deal core team is now fully resourced and additional resource continues to be put in place across the Council.  Officers are engaging with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC and First Bus. 

Work on the Outline Business Case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but progress is being made in relation to: programming of the individual projects and work relating to the OBC, and work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval).  Consultants have been appointed to undertake work on the Bishopbriggs Public Realm Plan and have now completed initial desktop research and site visits.  Stage 2 of their programme includes agreement on engagement arrangements, and initial public engagement is scheduled to take place mid to late June.  A Technical Note has been provided to members.  Early economics work is underway in order to supplement the approved SBC with an expected 10 week period to produce a draft report of findings. The consultants are also inputting to an early economic appraisal to underpin potential future growth opportunities for the Westerhill Masterplan area.

Regeneration & Town Centres

The team is working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October 2020. Phase 2 of the Milngavie West Highland Way Public Realm Projects is due to commence on site in July with a scheduled completion for late October. The Milngavie BID continue to lead the project with support provide by the team as required.  The team has secured £1.1m of Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the Twechar Canalside project and the budget has just received a further boost with the team successfully applying for £100,000 from Sports Scotland. The Regent Gardens project is being progressed, working closely with the local community council preparing draft designs for consultation which will run from late May into June. 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. The team, Land Planning Policy and landowners continue working together to create a masterplan for the Kirkintilloch Business Gateway site in step with the LDP2 process. The aim is to create a coherent deliverable vision for the area which will encourage development in line with Council policies and strategies.  Unfortunately the Kirkintilloch Canal Festival has been cancelled for another year but the team is looking into the possibility of smaller-scale events in local communities - if and when they are permissible under safety guidance.  Finally - work has kicked off on creating designs for a renovated and extended Campsie Memorial Hall in Lennoxtown. The project is being progressed in partnership with Hall Trust Group and is delivering on actions set out in the Lennoxtown Place Plan.

Business Support

Currently there are no live SG funded business support grants, however we have had early advice from SG that a new programme of Taxi Operator/Driver Grants will become available in the next few weeks.  Once live it will be posted on the Council’s webpage

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/business/business-support-during-corononavirus-emergency

Additional Taxi Driver Support will be provided from the Scottish Government, with local authorities again to administer the grant. It is likely to be a top up grant, with no new application process (exact details are still tbc by Scottish Government). There is also likely to be a Taxi Operator grant created, which again local authorities will administer. Further updates will be provided when information is available from Scottish Government.

Discretionary Grant up top-ups of £2,000 have been issued to over 300 businesses

Over the last 12 months the team have administered over £25m in financial support and continues to support businesses in a variety of means through recovery and all issues as a result of the pandemic.  Our bespoke webinars continue to be well attended and popular, not only locally but with attendees joining from other LA areas as they have no similar provision. 

Updates from Scottish Government officials continue to be provided via SLAED in relation to the rules and criteria surrounding current funds, and any proposed future support.

Currently the provision of internal audit information in respect of grants has been prioritised along with Property Level Data and other reporting provision for Scottish Government.  HMRC have now issued request for data which will require significant time and resource to provide

The Council’s Business support during the coronavirus emergency webpage will continue to be kept up to date.

Traffic and Transport

The team has been successful in external funding bids from Transport Scotland, SPT and Paths for All, with over £1.5m of funding confirmed for 2021/22.

Installation of seven Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) units are ongoing on Milngavie Road, Bearsden, as well as three replacement shelters. The rollout of RTPI will continue into Milngavie Town Centre as part of the 2021/22 Capital Programme.

With the increase in cycling throughout 2020 schools are seeing a huge rise in need for cycle and scooter parking. The team have installed additional shelters at six schools.

The team’s iBike Officers are working with colleagues in Outdoor Education on the roll out of led rides and led walks.

Consultation is underwa[y on design options for the Canniesburn Toll Improvement Project which aims to improve the function of Canniesburn Toll for pedestrians and cyclists making travelling by these modes safer in the immediate vicinity of this roundabout. The project also aims to improve the flow of traffic and reduce journey times with the introduction of traffic signals.  More information is available here: https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/canniesburn-toll-improvement-project.

NEIGHBOURHOOD SERVICES

WASTE SERVICES

Household Collection

The Waste Service continues to deliver all services in line with programmed schedules, with demands remaining consistent over the period.      

Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection

Collections are operating normally for residents with recycling tonnage remaining consistent in line with previous updates.

Green Waste Collection

The Garden Waste Service is operating in line with the routine fortnightly intervals and normal seasonal demand for this service.

Bulky Collections (Special Uplifts)

The Waste team continue to deliver the Special uplift service in line with requests and demand. Timescales for uplift continue to fluctuate depending on available resources however the team continue to monitor performance in this area.     

Bin Deliveries

The service continues to work through requests for replacement bins as resources allow with a consistent demand for replacement bins across a number of areas. In line with previous commitments, priority is given to residual bin deliveries however the team continue to work through all requests as resources allow.

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

The household waste recycling centre is working full summer hours in order to meet the demands from the public. The changes have had a positive impact on spreading the accessibility over the longer working week. Full time traffic management remains in place in order to manage traffic on the main Balmuildy Road. Officers from the waste service continue to work with the Business Change Team to develop and procure a new booking system for the Household Waste Recycling Centre. The new booking system, once in place would allow the service to control the number of vehicles on site at any given time and remove the need for traffic management at the entrance to the main Balmuildy Road entrance. 

Fleet Management

The service continues to manage the legal operation of the Councils fleet including compliance with the Goods Vehicle Operators licence, Drivers hours’ management and maintenance regimes. Officers continue to progress work on the fleet replacement Capital Programme for the coming financial year. Work is progressing through procurement for tenders and orders for new vehicles due for delivery in through 2021/2022 financial year.  The team continue to progress the de-fleet and disposal of outgoing fleet assets in line with the replacement programme.

Fleet Maintenance

The fleet workshops based at the Hilton depot continue to service and maintain all front line Operational fleet vehicles and plant on a rotational shift basis. The service is currently working to meet significant demands for ongoing maintenance and remedial works in support of front line operations. The team continue to prioritise all work based on available staff and the greatest needs in order to deliver through these challenging times. 

Transport Operations

The team continue to support colleagues in Education, HSCP and Facilities Management for Transport activities associated with ASN School Transport, day services and meal deliveries across the Authority. The team also continue to manage vehicle and plant hire activities which have increased significantly over the year, as a consequence of revised working arrangements for services, in delivering through the pandemic response. 

PLACE & COMMUNITY PLANNING

Environmental Health Team

The national vaccination programme and last lockdown had resulted in community transmission of Covid-19 declining for a period of time. There is now, however, an increase in the number of Covid-19 related cases in the Greater Glasgow Health Board area and the emergence of a new variant of concern, which was first identified in India. This has increased the amount of contract tracing that the Environmental Health Service is currently being required to carry out.

Covid-19 public health work continues to create a significant additional demand for Environmental Health Officers. The team are working with Education colleagues to deliver contact tracing within schools in liaison with health board colleagues through local Problem Assessment Groups (PAG’s) and Incident Management Teams (IMT’s).  The service is also being advised of clusters within occupational settings that require to be investigated to ensure the adequate mitigation measures are being put in place by businesses to prevent virus transmission.  To this end, the service takes part in additional meetings with Health Board colleagues to agree investigation plans.

The area moved to Level 2 of the tiered strategy within The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations on Monday 17 May 2021 This means that hospitality premises can now sell both food and drink indoors, that travel restrictions are further relaxed, and that small groups of people can meet indoors.  Due to the recent rises in Covid-19 cases, the East Dunbartonshire area will remain in Level 2 w/b 21st June.  Environmental Health will continue be at hand to respond to enquiries and engage with hospitality businesses. Extensive programmes of visits to monitor compliance and mitigation measures are also be delivered with assistance being provided by the new Public Health Compliance Officers.  This includes evening visits to the hospitality trade with Police Scotland.

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 also continue to deal with other environmental regulation and public health in terms of Air Quality, Contaminated Land and numerous noise, odour, smoke, housing and dampness service complaints.  The team are also assessing relevant incoming planning applications and providing comment for planning colleagues on environmental public health considerations to be accounted for.

The EU Exit Deal and its implications continue to be monitored, as there are implications to the import and export of food products.   Food Standards Scotland has given advance notice of the expectation for the Official Food Control Recovery Plan to be implemented by Councils. This is likely to generate very significant extra work over coming months with the presumption that inspection programmes can begin again in autumn.

Trading Standards Team

East Dunbartonshire currently remains in Level 2 restrictions. In level 2, the majority of retail premises have been permitted to re-open. Soft play centres, nightclubs, and discotheques must still remain closed.

Trading Standards Officers remain able to provide individually tailored advice and guidance to non-food businesses on the emergency health protection Covid-19 Regulations and Scottish Government guidance. Since the restrictions came into place, the Trading Standards team have dealt with over 500 complaints and business advice requests on Covid-19 related matters and have also delivered over 2000 interventions under the emergency Regulations.

Further, there has been an increase in the workload in the areas of scam prevention, product safety, fair trading, metrology and petroleum. Unfortunately there has been surge in the number of Coronavirus scams circulating via email, Facebook and text messages. These scams are wide ranging and some examples include advising you are a priority group due to family genetics or that you need to confirm your NHS vaccine appointment, all of which involve clicking on a link which then asks for a payment and/or personal details. Working with the Corporate Communications team Trading Standards are posting regular warnings on social media to alert residents.

The Trading Standards team continues to deal with a number of complaints relating to bogus workers and continues to work closely with colleagues in Police Scotland in relation to complaints of this nature. The Trading Standards team have recently worked with the Corporate Communications team to arrange for an advert warning consumers of the dangers of contracting with bogus workers to be published in all local newspapers and for the same advert to be promoted on social media to raise awareness and inform residents.

Having now exited the EU, Trading Standards are also receiving a number of enquiries in relation to the legislative changes that are relevant in terms of their remit.  Officers continue to receive training in relation to the wide range of changes that have resulted from the withdrawal agreement, with areas such as fair trading, e-commerce, metrology, product safety, animal health, and cross-border matters all being the focus of on-going e-learning sessions.

The Team's Fair Trading Officers have continued to provide advice to consumers and traders in relation to contractual disputes.  Many of these instances have arisen as a consequence of the coronavirus restrictions impacting on performance of contracts, particularly home improvement complaints. This has resulted in a significant rise in complaints that can't be easily resolved, due to the problem of tracing and identifying traders from out with East Dunbartonshire. This has increased the urgency for the team to look at the possibility of introducing a trusted trader scheme for local residents.

The Team's Licensing Adviser continues to deal with routine licensing consultations, complaints and enquiries. An increased number of variations to licenses have been made as the licensed trade industry adjusts to the re-opening of the hospitality sector.

Community Safety Team

The Community Safety Team continues to undertake a broad range of work for the benefit of our local communities, with all service delivery activity meeting the requirements of the latest Covid-19 restrictions that 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. Deployment of additional mobile CCTV should now be feasible in the coming weeks in order to assist with offence detection and support the valuable enforcement work being carried out by the Community Safety Officers in relation to fly-tipping issues.

Control of Dog matters continue to be investigated and an essential pest control service has also been delivered for residents on an on-going basis since the start of the original lock down in March 2020. In terms of pest control, regular visits to all of our permanent bait sites have now also recommenced in order to support both general recovery and the Council's on-going public health response in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic.

For Community Wardens on-street enforcement for parking offences recommenced in the middle of August 2020.  Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced 14 September 2020. During the current period of Covid-19 restrictions, the focus for the Community Wardens in relation to Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) has largely been centred upon our town centre areas, but due to ongoing complaints about parking issues at a number of our Primary Schools the team will be continuing to ensure that patrols are carried out at these locations during drop off and pick up times over the next few weeks.

The new cashless payment solution within the Council’s nine off-street charging car parks has also commenced meaning that motorists now have an alternative method of paying for parking in addition to use of the existing pay and display machines. The new PayByPhone service in East Dunbartonshire went live on Monday 24 May 2021.  It is envisaged that the new service will be warmly welcomed by motorists and businesses alike - as well as making parking both easier and faster, the ability to pay via smartphone will also help to encourage physical distancing and mean that fewer people need to queue at parking machines.  

Essential patrols in relation to environmental incivility breaches as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in and around identified issue areas have also continued.  Complaints in relation to the issue of dog fouling have increased significantly in a number of areas throughout ED over recent months and an increased number of targeted patrols (including plain clothes patrols) have therefore been delivered in these areas in order to tackle the problem and Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued to a number of offenders. 

The team continues to provide a remote service for neighbour complaints/disputes, providing advice by phone and email and liaising regularly with colleagues in other services including Housing, Social Work and Police Scotland.  As part of this the team will continue to carry out antisocial behaviour visits in the most serious of cases in order to tackle the significant increase in the number of complaints that have been received in recent months - however, alternatives means are still being utilised wherever possible with face to face visits only being carried out where absolutely essential.

The Community Wardens are again assisting in delivering leaflets and posters to a number of premises (retail and other) across the Council area in order to promote and advertise the asymptomatic testing facility which has now been re-located to the War Memorial Hall in Bishopbriggs.  This facility is for testing people who have no Covid-19 symptoms but who could still be infectious and spreading the virus without knowing it.

Community Planning and Partnerships Team

Officers continue to develop actions relating to outcomes in our Local Outcomes Improvement Plan (LOIP), via online engagement with community groups and partners / individuals during lockdown. EDVA also works in the community and has strong links. The Council continues to develop the Place plans for Auchinairn; Lennoxtown; Twechar; and, Hillhead and Harestanes.  Working with key partners of EDVA and HSCP the team are developing a communication and engagement plan to support the process of reviewing the Place Plans in line with statutory guidance and to reflect changed circumstances as a result of the pandemic.

The team have delivered a successful ‘Health Issues in the Community Course’ (HIIC) in partnership with colleagues from the HSCP. The course is usually delivered in a community venue, however due to restrictions it was delivered digitally.  This was the first time the HIIC course has been delivered online.  By delivering this course, the team reached out to those whose voices are seldom heard and supported increased participation. The course will help us to explore with the community what worked during lock down and where were the gaps. What was their experience of Covid? How did it impact on their lives what is it legacy?  The course also builds capacity on a personal level and collectively. The interactive workshops enable people to start to explore inequalities, barriers, equity the social model of health, the impact poverty and your social circumstances and the environment has on your health and well-being. The learners then presented their Group Presentation to a wide audience, and the intention is to support progression of participants, who have identified connection with the community garden run by Hillhead Housing Association, and in which they are keen to volunteers and promote and regenerate to the local community going forward.

Campsie Community Council has been holding on online meetings for several months now and has seen increased in participation from the wider community.  Members of the team are supporting building the capacity of the community council enabling greater insight into their understanding of their new roles through online training.

In line with revised guidance for CLD planning in 2020 and further to the requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013, Council Officers are developing a plan for Community Leaning and Development for 2021-24.  Community Learning and Development Partnership is meeting (online) and a sub-group has been agreed to progress identification of high level outcomes and priority actions, which will support effective delivery of CLD across East Dunbartonshire.

Our Resettlement Officer continues to offer full-time support to our resettlement families e.g. providing access to essential services.  

In line with statutory guidance, officers are working on the update to the Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report for 2021-2025.  Corporately services across the council are collating evidence of their action on outcomes, and also submitting details on future outcomes to the team for collation.

As per the mandatory requirements issued to public bodies under the BSL Scotland Act 2015, EDC have produced a British Sign Language Plan with an update required in October 2021.  The team continue to support reporting on the Child Poverty Action Plan

The 2021 Best Value Audit, which includes Community Planning remits, is ongoing and the team is currently working with a range of colleagues and partners to record case studies and evidence for those meetings and focus groups as part of the BV process. 

ROADS & ENVIRONMENT

Roads Technical and Engineering Team

Structures

  • Allander Bridge No.1 Glasgow Road Milngavie. Glasgow Road closed on 12 February following inspection by structures staff. Construction of retaining wall to support Auchenhowie Road, and Scottish water apparatus progressing, as well as further repairs to bridge.  Road due to reopen 27 June.
  • Continuing with Principal and General Inspections,

Drainage and Flood Prevention

  • Glazert River Restoration - Progressing to detail design stage and reviewing detail plans etc. As part of these works Officers are proposing to realign the path past the point where it collapsed
  • Bishopbriggs Climate Ready Park - Detail design is progressing.
  • Park Burn Flood Protection Works has been awarded and the Contractor is looking to commence works on site in the coming weeks. Proposals are to de-silt, re-profile and regrade the section from Southbank Road Kirkintilloch to the open section of Burn to the rear of Westergreens Road. This work will minimise flood risk in the upstream section of the Park Burn catchment.
  • Providing technical support for other civil engineering works e.g. carried out drainage investigation on Canniesburn Toll in preparation for the redesign
  • Auchenhowie Road - upgrading gullies as part of the works for bridge repair
  • Further investigation regarding septic discharge on Antermony Road, Milton of Campsie

Development

  • Interviews for a new Development Officer take place this week.
  • Attending sites to ensure compliance with construction consent approval.
  • Road Opening/Closure applications being processed. All indicators for road works reporting for this quarter are green.

Traffic

  • Interviews for a new Traffic Officer take place this week.
  • The first average speed camera system within East Dunbartonshire has been installed on Auchinairn Road and will go live following installation of camera signs.
  • Ongoing procurement of a traffic survey contract to continue the monitoring of traffic volumes/speed on EDC roads.
  • Ongoing procurement of a new system to host, interrogate and report on road crash data within EDC.
  • Ongoing procurement of a road markings contract to assist the in house facility
  • 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.
  • Providing observations to Planning on applications.

Roads Operations

In line with current restrictions the Roads Network Team will continue on a rota basis to carry out essential road safety repairs where social distancing can be maintained. We have also been able to commence with our capital resurfacing programme this week. The Operations Team resources have been prioritised to repair  road defects reported over the last few weeks to ensure the safe use of the network and are currently undertaking the following operations

  • Road Defect repairs;
  • Routine Gully Cleaning on Primary Restricted and Secondary Routes
  • Road Marking/Relining Operation
  • Street Lighting repairs & column replacements
  • Marshalling at the various Vaccination Centres
  • 24 hour emergency response to Network issues
  • Footway/Verge maintenance  Balmore Road to provide additional space for walkers
  • Shirva Rd, Carriageway Resurfacing ongoing.
  • Easter Garngaber Rd Lenzie, Carriageway Resurfacing to commence Monday 21st June.

Technical and Inspection Team

  • Inspectors continue to complete our statutory safety inspections
  • Process of Roads Permits applications
  • Monitoring and Inspection of Utility operations
  • Response to customer enquiries and reported network issues
  • Asset updates and national asset management returns
  • Preparation of tender documents assist in completion of capital programme

Street Lighting

  • Continue to process planning applications
  • Inspection of new development street lighting installation
  • Advanced capital designs for new street lighting installation prior to a return to these activities
  • Inventory updates on the lighting management system
  • Column replacements working alongside operations team
  • 24 hour response to electrical defects on the lighting network

Streetscene Operations

  • Continuation of street cleansing ops, mechanical sweeping, graffiti removal, fly posting removal, uplifting fly tipping etc.
  • Ongoing cemetery operations, including preparing & carrying out interments, grass cutting, herbicide application of monumental borders, installing headstone foundations etc.
  • Cyclical grass cutting of open spaces, school grounds, housing estates, football pitches etc.
  • Cutting of daffodil / spring bulb areas.
  • Marking of school athletic tracks.
  • Checking & clearing of culvert grills as determined by weather conditions.
  • Play equipment inspections & maintenance.
  • Emptying & preparing seasonal flower beds.
  • Shrub & hedge pruning in response to complaints & enquiries.
  • Dealing with crm enquiries and service requests.

Streetscene Technical Support

  • Drainage works at Cadder Cemetery ongoing
  • Pitch summer renovations ongoing
  • Play area safety surfacing repairs ongoing
  • Sowing of annual meadows complete
  • Repairs to Luggie Park skate park ongoing
  • Litter pickers delivered to schools and community groups on request
  • Team continues to deal with large volume of open space enquiries, tree enquiries and planning consultations as well as correspondence and site meetings with community groups

Mugdock Country Park

  • Work to bandstand steps and paths in Walled Garden completed with painting to the bandstand and up-lighting to be carried out;
  • Mugdock Strategy 2022-27 out for tender at present;
  • New directional signs installed at key locations across the Park;
  • Seasonal jobs - mowing, strimming, weed killing etc being carried out;
  • Seasonal surveys - bird, bat etc completed;
  • Ongoing maintenance tasks to buildings and natural environment eg toilets, drainage, BBQ sites, play park fence, quarry fence;
  • Period poverty boxes installed in toilets;
  • What's On guide for outdoor events over the summer has been finalised;
  • Forest schools and activities with schools have started up in line with Scottish Govt guidelines.

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 18 June 2021

EDUCATION

Schools and early years’ centres are looking forward to the end of term after a very difficult and challenging year.  The usual end of term events have taken place but with changes due to the Covid restrictions.  The number of cases in the last two weeks has continued to rise due to the new variant and the rising level of infection in the community.

Secondary schools have completed the quality assurance processes with the support of the authority and pupils will be issued with their provisional results by Tuesday 22 June.  There will be an opportunity to discuss the results with teachers in schools before schools close on 24 June.  The final result will be issued by SQA in August.  There will be no change to the provisional grades this year.  There is then an appeal process; this can be done by young people directly and there are clear criteria for an appeal.

Plans are in place for an enhanced summer provision to support children, who have been most impacted by the Covid pandemic.  There will be provision for all primary and secondary children who are eligible to attend either the Snack and Play programme or leisure activities in the Council’s Leisure centres.  There is also provision in Campsie View and Merkland for children with additional support needs.

The plans for the roll out of free school meals is underway.  Food vouchers will be provided to all eligible families over the summer and all children in Primary 4 will receive a free school meal from August.  In January 2022, all children in Primary 5 will be provided with a free school meal.  Education will work with Facilities Management to implement this expansion.

ORGANISATIONAL TRANSFORMATION

Procurement Team

The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services with significant workstreams around major assets, City Deal, Property Maintenance contracts, Community/Employability Grant applications and other needs across services such as Education, Housing, Business & Digital Change Projects, and Roads. Renewal and award of various contracts continue with various key ICT system requirements being progressed at this time.

The team continues to monitor supply chains for PPE stocks and other critical supplies. The operating arrangements and support to services have been updated for all services to ensure sufficient supplies and emergency procedures where required. PPE demand is monitored from the Stores location, and is managed/facilitated by the Procurement team.  Work is currently in progress to prepare for the Summer period.

Procurement are also currently supporting key work streams, these include Mass Vaccinations, City Deal, the new Integrated Housing Management System, Transport Service arrangements, Remote Digital Solutions for Education, Pandemic Support Payments and Supplier/Partner provider support in line with COSLA guidance. Care at Home and Supported Living Contract renewals have been completed, supporting the Commissioning team and HSCP. Contract Standing Orders are currently being reviewed in alignment to the Council Administrative Scheme update and will be reported to Council later in the year.

Business Grants, School Clothing Grants, Education Trip repayments, Early Years grants, Pandemic Support Payments, and Care providers additional funding requests continue to be processed via the Procurement Support team to support Scottish Government payment requirements.  Prioritised processes for invoices and grant payments are currently in progress and resources aligned to support the increased demand on the Service.

The team are currently preparing the Free School Meal Payments for the period of the Summer School closure and are supporting ongoing applications in line with Scottish Government Guidance.  New applications for School Clothing Grants & Free School Meals for the 2021-2022 School Terms will be supported by the Team.  Financial tracking of costs for Free School Meals, Hardship and Isolation Payments is ongoing, and associated Grant claims to Scottish Government are being monitored.

Health & Safety

The Health and Safety team is working alongside council services supporting identified and statutory requirements across all services as well as organising and managing safe access, egress, T&P requirements for Broomhill and other operational sites.

The H&S Manager has supported recent COVID-19 visits to schools alongside senior Education and Environmental Health Officers to investigate transmission and support schools in reviewing control measures where necessary.

Health and Safety team continues to develop and carry out training such as safe use of ladders, working at heights, safe electrical isolation among other relevant training pertaining to review and refresh of safe methods of working.

The Fire Safety team has supported HSCP and their care providers with review of fire safety arrangements in care homes and residential units and continues to carry out with fire risk assessments throughout our estate.

The Team continues to engage with our Health Surveillance providers and the management of the health surveillance records. It continues to support on site clinics at various operational depots. Review of vibration work equipment and tool tagging for all vibration tools across services is still ongoing. Individual vibration risk assessments are being prepared where diagnosis reports indicate a need.

The team continues to work alongside Assets & Estates with advice and support for safe contractor management, development of policies and procedures and procurement team with review of relevant H&S sections for framework contracts.

The team continues to carry out day to day Health and Safety tasks such as inbox queries, accident and incident recording and RIDDOR, investigations, task based and DSE risk assessments.

The team has provided advice and support to:

·       Registration services with site visits to identify social distancing requirements for lets.

·       HSCP with updated risk assessment for KHCC.

·       Property Maintenance with Health and Safety plan and risk assessments for works to be carried out at schools.

·       Roads and Property Maintenance by developing and carrying out training including induction for new employees

·       EDLCT in preparation of libraries reopening.

·               HR with individual risk assessment, return to work plans and support in wellbeing meetings.

Social Work Commissioning Team

Planning & Development (P&D) team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations to ensure services continue, re-mobilised if/where required, and remain sustainable in the longer term.   

P&D has an integral role in the HSCP’s Adult Services Oversight Group that has responsibility for providing assurance during C-19, across key service areas including care homes, care at home, supported living and day care.  Planning & Development responsibilities includes: service and financial monitoring, compliance, risk management, recovery planning / supporting providers to re-mobilise in line with Public Health guidance – and general market support/management/facilitation.  P&D also monitors and reports on PCR & LFD testing across care homes, care at home, community based services and non -registered services.   Abbotsford Care Home is currently in outbreak status following positive test results for two staff (identified via test and trace) – all residents tested negative.  The home continues to take all necessary and precautionary measures in line with Public Health guidance

Planning & Development continues to monitor providers Business Continuity Plans and identification of associated risks.  The HSCP’s Local Resilience Management Team (LRMT) meets fortnightly to review resilience planning, surveillance and reporting across all HSCP / commissioned services

Planning & Development continues to support Social Care Sustainability Payments & Care Home Occupancy payments for providers who, as a direct result of Covid-19, have incurred additional costs relating to infection control, PPE and/or losses due to reduced occupancy. The HSCP and Council continue to consider all claims via regular Governance Panel meetings and thereafter, capture approved claims within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan.  Current guidance extends to 30 June 21, updated guidance is due imminently regarding future arrangements.

Scotland Excel’s National Flexible Framework for care and support services is now live and Planning & Development is actively engaging with providers to support the mobilisation of local services and to help address any outstanding issues or concerns. P&D is responsible for monitoring & reporting local service performance and on-going compliance. Going forward, P&D is supporting the HSCP to progress block contracts across commissioned homecare services.  The benefits includes: efficient allocation of business via geographical Lots, continuity of care for service users, guaranteed levels of business and more security for providers.  Block contract arrangements are due to in place by 1st April 2022.

P&D continues to support the progression of a number of HSCP Strategic Reviews including; Learning Disabilities, Mental Health & Alcohol & Drugs and Older People Social Support Services.  P&D is instrumental in establishing the reviews, co-ordinating engagement & consultations events, developing strategic plans & financial frameworks and supporting the progression of agreed commissioning priorities.  Recovery Planning and lessons learnt will be a key feature across all reviews to help inform and shape services going forward.

Human Resources & Organisational Development

Following announcement by the Scottish Government (SG) that all Health and Social Care workers will receive a ‘£500 Thank You’, the HR&OD team have processed payments in the May payroll for eligible employees, with the focus moving to eligible leavers.  

More recently, the Scottish Government has issued guidance to Local Authorities regarding the £400 for Teachers to support delivery of the Alternative Certification Model that is replacing National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2020/21. HROD will work with Education colleagues to interpret the guidance and to identify employees eligible for the payment. 

Trades Unions engagement continues on a weekly basis and 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 the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.  Planning is progressing for the implementation of Services reviews within the Business Partner and Job Evaluation teams.

As the Council continues to promote to the use of Annual Leave to ensure employees have meaningful periods away from work, updated Annual Leave Guidance has been agreed with Trade Unions for circulation. A key update included within the guidance, is the reinstatement of Annual Leave, where an employee has had to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19 and has been unable to take their planned leave.

Engagement continues with Managers on the support for Individual Risk Assessments and Occupational Health Assessments based on updated regulations and Scottish Government advice.  This has been a particular focus with the reopening of schools.

The HR Operations team continues to work on concluding discipline and grievance cases as timely as possible whilst always ensuring early intervention and informal resolution principles apply. 

Absence analysis and support continues with priority focus within HSCP.  Detailed scrutiny of the absence performance across all services continues with engagement taking place to understand required support and actions for improvement. The team continues to receive daily calls on COVID reporting for various circumstances.  The implementation of a 7 day cover rota remains in place.  Advice and guidance to employees and managers on COVID related issues and absences continue to be supported by the HR & OD teams.

Work continues to enhance the Employee Zone pages with updates and additions to the Wellbeing page to reflect Healthy Working Lives campaigns going forward. 

Key statutory training is being scoped out and delivered and work has commenced in relation to reviewing the Council’s e-learning platform. Moving and Handling (M&H) training is a key requirement within Education to support the transition of children and young people into new schools, and to capture those that require refresher training.

Business & Digital Change Team

The Business & Digital Change Team continue to lead the delivery of a range of multi-disciplinary projects across the Council.  

Business Systems have implemented interim mid-year patches for a number of systems ensuring the Council’s systems remain secure and compliant. Work has commenced to upgrade the Council Tax Systems underlying database to a new version over the next 1-2 months.  Procurement of services required to upgrade the Council's Planning and Building Control system have concluded and the upgrade will now be scheduled for implementation as soon as possible. Work continues to increase capacity and supportability of the Council's financial management system in advance of onboarding additional Education accounting & budgeting workload scheduled to be complete by end of September this year.  

All Smart Working M365 sessions have now been scheduled and 20 of the 38 sessions/workshops have been held. The majority of technical sessions have been completed providing the Microsoft Gold partner with required information.  The remaining sessions are focused towards aligning the M365 service offerings to the Council's strategic priorities and will include Senior Officer consultation and engagement.  All workshops are scheduled to be complete by mid-August. This phase of the project will conclude in September with a stakeholder review of our discovery and implementation plans which will inform our next steps. 

Discovery work for the Analogue to Digital Telecare project continues.  The Project Team have captured details of the existing set-up and supporting processes which will now be analysed.  Engagement is ongoing with West Dunbartonshire Council, other Local Authorities and the Digital Office to share plans and best practice.  Envisioning and planning workshops are due to be scheduled over the July / August timeframe to define the project scope and future state of the Telecare service. 

Work is underway to develop business cases for the procurement of a Supplier to deliver our Managed Stores facility, Mavis Valley Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) – Booking System and a Cleaning Inspection app, which is a mobile based app for on-site building cleaning inspections to measure the quality and effectiveness of cleaning in a range of establishments. 

Discovery work is also underway to build a Business case for an Employability Management System to provide more accessible management information on employability performance and to track learners. 

Work continues in the delivery of new solutions for the replacement of legacy Education systems with a wide range of new solutions being developed to allow the delivery of essential functions across the Education sector.    

Work continues to develop a Business case for our Web Content Management System (CMS) and integrated Customer Relations Management (CRM) system which will enhance our digital customer interactions and customer journey’s.   

The team continue to lead the roll out of the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme which will fund a daily portion of plain fresh cow’s milk (or specified alternative) and a healthy snack (fruit or vegetables) for pre-school children spending two hours or more in the care of a regulated day care provider and/or childminders from the 1st August.  

The requirements specification for a new Housing Management solutiohas been finalised and the invitation to tender published with a closing date of 30th July.  The team are currently responding to supplier clarification questions.  

LEGAL & DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

Democratic Services

The team continues to support the Council’s COVID-19 civil contingencies response, supporting command structures at Council, local, regional and national level as previously reported. 

In addition to the above, work is continuing on support for the most recent recurrence of COVID.  Regular meetings are taking place both locally and at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at current issues and also future planning e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary. 

The Team continues to lead in planning and oversight of the Council’s involvement for both mass vaccinations and community testing within East Dunbartonshire.  Members will recall that both centres (Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre and Allander Leisure Centre were structured to allow both the hours of operation and number of vaccinators to be scaled up as required.  Activity varies from week to week depending on vaccine supply etc – in the last couple of weeks additional drop in clinics have taken place at both the Allander and Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre.  These sessions were aimed at those who have missed their first appointment and those who have waited more than 10 weeks for a second appointment.  Information will shortly be available detailing the take up of the vaccine broken down to HSCP levels and this will be shared with Members once available, however indications from the initial 9 cohorts is that uptake rates in East Dunbartonshire are very good and the amongst the highest in the Greater Glasgow & Clyde area.  What is known just now is that women are more likely to be vaccinated than men and that differential is increasing as the programme moves on to younger cohorts.  Officers have met with GG&C to discuss the further roll out of the vaccine and how best to target harder to reach communities.  The EDLCT workforce continues to provide excellent support to the clinical operation, in a manner which is flexible and responds to the ever changing supply chain.  Feedback from attendees continues to be positive and colleagues in the Leisure Trust are managing the throughput of vaccines efficiently and without any significant queues or delays.  The latest roadmap for easing restrictions is such that work has been undertaken develop dual operation arrangements and so some leisure services are set to recommence in tandem with the centres continuing to operate as vaccination clinics.  These arrangements have been the subject of rigorous risk assessments.  In addition, discussions are now starting to focus on post October and a booster programme.  Members will be updated once more information is available. 

Similarly, the Team is leading on planning for community asymptomatic testing across East Dunbartonshire.  This is where the Council is required to set up a testing facility in communities where there is a significant spike in infection rates and/or where there are persistently higher than average rates.  These centres will be used to test those who are asymptomatic and are intended to identify where individuals have COVID-19 in order that they can quickly self-isolate and contact tracing can be triggered.  Members will be aware that an ATS has been established at the War Memorial Hall, Balmuildy Rd., Bishopbriggs.  This site has seen a reasonable footfall to date and is currently supported by colleagues from NHS GG&C, however a recruitment exercise is ongoing.  .  Officers continue to develop plans for both a mobile and portable solution which will enable greater access and a speedy response in the event of an outbreak or concerns around transmission rates in any part of East Dunbartonshire.  A bus has been adapted by colleagues in Fleet and will be fitted out as a single booth testing facility.  In addition to supporting testing linked to community outreach activities, it is envisaged that the bus will regularly visit town centres across the authority to encourage regular testing.  Again a more detailed Technical Note will be issued in advance of the launch.  As before, the Team is well supported by colleagues in Corporate Comms and continues to liaise with colleagues in Community Planning & Place to engage with local community groups and also colleagues in Education with a view to encouraging testing via the various local schools.  Planning is also underway to provide accessible testing for Snack and Play and other summer activities.

In the last few weeks, the team has been engaging with Scottish Government in relation to the identification of sites for walk in symptomatic testing in East Dunbartonshire.  Members will be aware that a symptomatic test site is now operational at Milngavie Station Car Park.  This is a UKG operation and so officers do not currently have details of uptake but this has been requested.  These units require a large site and so work is ongoing to identify a further location for a second LTS within East Dunbartonshire.  In addition, given recent fluctuations to the infection rate locally, officers are engaging with NHS GG&C and Public Health colleagues with a view to securing Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) coverage in East Dunbartonshire. 

Given recent surges in the south of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire, the Team is also working with colleagues across a number of services to develop a contingency plan in the event of a similar surge in an area of East Dunbartonshire.  Colleagues in Glasgow required to react overnight and create additional testing and vaccination capacity in a matter of days.  In addition, staff and volunteers have been mobilised to go door to door with testing kits.  Plans are being developed which identify potential workforce, health and safety measures, security issues and training etc. so that this Council can react as quickly as possible in similar circumstances.

The Team continues to be involved in the strategic management of Registration Services at a local and regional level to inform the national picture regarding the management of additional deaths during this pandemic and working with partners to support a Greater Glasgow & Clyde-wide response.  The registration of births and marriages/civil partnerships continues to be supported by colleagues in Legal Services and significant progress has been made to address the backlog of birth registrations.  In addition, the Team is feeding into discussions at a regional and national level, which seek to embed some aspects of the move to remote/online registration where possible and practical to do so.  The Team continues to monitor the national position and infection rates so that additional resources can be deployed if necessary and plans for cover over the holidays are being finalised.

Wedding and Civil Partnership ceremonies continue to take place at 21 Southbank Road for now.  In addition, the Team continues to closely monitor the ever developing situation around restrictions and what they mean for ceremonies and receptions.  This will be continuously under review in light of changing restrictions. 

Between 1 – 14 June, 31 Births and 69 deaths were registered.  13 wedding ceremonies were conducted with several more being re-arranged due to changing Scottish Government Covid guidelines.  Enquiries and bookings for weddings and civil partnerships over the summer months are increasing.  From 30 June the Registrar will conduct Mixed Sex Civil Partnership Ceremonies in accordance with the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020.

Notwithstanding the pause in some of the workstreams around Care for People and Shielding, the Team continues to work to support governance matters and civil contingencies input in relation to Outbreak Management & concurrency issues and will continue to do so as more services are “switched back on”, and restrictions are eased. 

On top of the above, there are other emerging civil contingency concerns in relation to which the Team continues to participate in various local and regional awareness and planning meetings including the review of strategic infrastructure and fulfilment of the “All Risks” approach to the various concurrent risks across the country. 

Initial planning is in train for the 2022 Local Government Elections scheduled for 5 May 2022.

The team are now in the midst of work supporting the last cycle of Council and Committee meetings prior to the summer recess and planning is underway for the 2021/2022 term Placing Request Appeals with hearings scheduled for  16, 17,18, 21 & 22 June (subject to the volume of PR Appeals received)

Information Management

The team continues to support to services in relation to information management, data protection and data sharing, which are critical in these circumstances and has supported various services in the ongoing development and amendment of Privacy Notices and Privacy Impact Assessments for new workstreams and the establishment of information sharing agreements and protocols which assist the Council in its work to protect some of the most vulnerable residents.  In addition to supporting the Council’s postal mail services, the Team remains busy with print activity in support of schools and Committee cycles.  In addition to the foregoing, the Team is working with in relation to the classification and preservation of information generated by the Council’s response to the COVID pandemic

SMT Support & Members Support Teams

The SMT Support team is working with the CMT and SMT to assist in the re-introduction of services across portfolios and continue to support other areas of the wider service and beyond as required.  The Team continues to support the CMT, SMT and Departmental Management Teams with processes for remote meetings, production of Committee Reports and Elected Member Technical Notes.  The Members Support Team also continues to support Elected Members. 

Legal Services

Legal Services continue to guide Major Assets in the negotiation and conclusion of the Council’s capital projects with negotiations well underway for the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Hub project, including the complex leasing structure that underpins the project.  Work is also ongoing in relation to the contract for the new ASN school at Waterside.  Due to the nature of these contracts (in terms of complexity, scale and value) these are particularly time and resource intensive.  Separately, whilst full details of the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU upon labour, materials and exchange rates emerge, specific drafting is required to future-proof the Council’s interests in these projects.  A number of new instructions have also come from Major Assets in the last month in respect of other capital project which are in their early stages.

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 heavily involved in the contracts required for the City Region City Deal project with the recruitment of a team to support this almost in place.

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

The team also works closely with the procurement team in ensuring procurement processes are complying with the changing law in this area and that the flexibilities offered by Government guidance are appropriately used.  This also involves the drafting and documentation of contracts with suppliers of goods, works and services to the Council and the contractual clauses on the risk to the delivery of contracts caused by Covid-19 and the EU exit have to be tailored to fit the individual nature and circumstances of each contract.  At the moment the team is assisting with some urgent procurements which have some complicated features and, as such, need detailed legal advice to ensure compliance and minimisation of risk. 

The team is also playing a key role in the project team appointed to deliver a new Integrated Housing Management System for the Housing Service.  The market for such systems is such that procurement of this project is complex and requires a high degree of legal project management and support.  Coupled with this is the drafting and negotiation of bespoke IT terms and conditions to ensure that the system delivers as required.  The contract has now been advertised and legal services are dealing with many of the, often complex, clarification questions that have come in from bidders. 

The team negotiates, drafts and concludes the majority of contracts that the Council enters into for supplies, goods and services.  A particular highlight at the moment is the contract for the new Committee Management system. 

On top of this, the Commercial team is endeavouring to carrying out its “business as usual” activities where required in support of a Council priority.  These include land transactions and commercial agreements, which seek to improve the Council’s commercial position.    The team has also been involved in many data sharing and IT agreements, including licences to other partnering local authorities in respect of applications developed by the ICT team for education purposes.

In respect of litigation, at present the team is usually representing the Council’s interests by way of virtual hearings.   There are, however, some matters which necessitate team members physically appearing in court.  Current ongoing actions in court relate to housing, social work, licensing and employment matters.  The team also continues to support the Council’s services in the management of various complex matters, which are currently at the pre-litigation stage, in an effort to mitigate effects on the Council.  In addition, the team is currently preparing for a public inquiry in relation to a compulsory purchase order.  This is the first compulsory purchase order that has been promoted by the Council in some time and the team, having limited previous experience of the process, is navigating it ably. 

A significant amount of work is dedicated to the running of quasi judicial boards.  In conjunction with colleagues in Democratic Services, virtual meetings of the Planning Local Review Body, the Licensing Boards and the Civic Government Appeals Board are now taking place – with meetings of each of these boards having now taken place or scheduled for the next few weeks.  The team is also busy with dealing with applications, renewals and queries from application/agents.  Liquor licensing is particular busy at the moment in light of recent easing of restrictions on hospitality and the increase in demand for outside areas where alcohol can be consumed.  

Both Legal & Democratic Services were heavily involved in the Pre Determination Hearing and special meeting of Council which recently took place.  The team are now involved in moving this project forward and dealing with any residual legal issues.

The team also support the planning service in respect of the drafting and negotiation of planning agreements and the varying of agreements already in place as well as provided tailored advice on planning law.

Following the recent relaxation of restrictions the team is reviewing previous arrangements for licensed premises to ensure that these are up to date and reflect any changes.  This work will be carried out in conjunction with colleagues in Environmental Health, Customer Services and Planning and will ensure that up to date advice is available to the licensed trade.  Importantly, procedures will be as pragmatic as possible so as to facilitate reopening, whilst still ensuring public safety.  In addition, procedures to support the processing of public entertainment licensing are also under review.

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

The team is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of the initial lockdown and other matters which have arisen since.  There is, however, one complex and important heritable court matter that is being allowed to proceed due to its serious nature and the team are acting on the Council’s behalf to ensure the best outcome for the many different parties involved. 

In addition to the above, the Team is now turning attention to this year’s placing requests.    Members will be aware that the Council normally receives a significant number of placing request appeals which result in several weeks of Appeal Hearings.  This is time consuming and labour-intensive for both the Litigation & Licensing Team and also the Democratic Team.  The meetings are taking place over the next few weeks and the Team, along with colleagues in Democratic Services, are providing support to these.  The team is also on standby in the event that there are any challenges in the Sheriff Court.  These require a significant time and resource commitment in both preparation and appearing in court to defend decisions taken. 

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

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

As always and due to the nature of the work of the team, there are many matters which the team is working on which are confidential and sensitive and further detailed information cannot be given on these.

Resources in Legal Services have been depleted recently and the sharp increase in demand for its services has put significant pressure on the team.  In addition to existing projects, the team will be required to support the delivery of the City Region City Deal project.   This has necessitated investment in the team in the form of a substantial recruitment exercise to fill a variety of new and existing roles.  That process is well underway and the first new members of the team have now joined, including a new Team Leader for the Litigation and Licensing team, with others to join in the coming weeks and months.  The intention is that by late Summer 2021 the team will be much better resourced to be able to continue to support the Council through the projects and challenges which lie ahead. 

CUSTOMER & BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES

Corporate Performance & Research

The finalised 2020/21 year-end HGIOS performance reports across all Executive Officer portfolios, the HSCP and EDLC Trust, co-ordinated by the Corporate Performance & Research Team were approved by Council on 17 June.  An annual performance summary has also been provided for the Unaudited accounts which will be considered by Council at its Special Meeting on Tuesday 29 June.

The Action Plan to implement corporate performance aspirations in line with the strategic review of planning and performance was also agreed by Council on 17 June. From the end of June engagement will begin with Executive Officers for the preparation of Quarter 1 performance reports for 2021/22 in line with the current approach to reporting and in advance of the further planning and implementation of the new approach in relation to corporate performance aspirations. 

The comprehensive overview of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework (LGBF) publication was also considered and agreed by Council on 17 June.  This more detailed analysis built on earlier reports to Councillors of the LGBF findings, issued in February and included the Children’s Services data which is published in April.  Further analysis of the performance indicators in the bottom quartile is being prepared to better understand these.  Guidance on returns for the 2020/21 LGBF publication has been provided to Executive Officers.  Returns are due over the Summer with the 2020/21 LGBF publication due in February 2022.

The Corporate Performance & Research Team also continues to support data collation and quality assurance for performance reporting including the preparation and submission of statutory returns and local performance indicators as well as wider data analysis across Council services and HSCP social care services and ongoing reporting requirements. The team supports the response to FOIs across the social care service, and volumes of these have increased in recent months. Quality assurance improvement and data cleansing activity is ongoing to ensure accurate data and confidence in data returns.

Communications & Engagement

The Communications Team continues to provide 24/7 communications support for emergencies and essential out of hours messaging.  Sharing messaging in relation to restrictions being lifted in line with the Scottish Governments Framework for Recovery timeline remains an important focus, including messaging reminding residents to continue to follow guidelines.

The website continues to be updated daily in line with service requirements, and to link to the latest guidance and Covid-19 support initiatives. Two more business grant initiatives have been prepared for launch with updated information and application forms prepared for the website as required.  The publication of Technical Notes on the Council website, introduced in early April, has once again seen 10 Technical Notes published in the last two week period.

Communications support for community asymptomatic testing centre continues, with a media release and photocall to promote the change in location and expansion of target audience to all those living, working and visiting East Dunbartonshire.  Messaging has also been prepared for all East Dunbartonshire schools to advice of testing availability throughout the school summer holidays and where to access home testing kits.  

Media management has seen the team respond to 13 media enquiries over the last fortnight, all meeting publication deadlines.  A total of eight media releases have been issued since the last update resulting in predominantly positive coverage online and print media for the Council. The media releases issued included: Clean Air Day on 17 June with a call to all do our bit for air quality; the Summer Leisure & Lunch programme for eligible children and young people; the new location for Community Asymptomatic Testing at War Memorial Hall in Bishopbriggs; the new 3G rugby pitch at Lenzie Academy, first of its kind in East Dunbartonshire; and the unveiling of the mural in tribute to the achievements of Robert Millar in Lennoxtown, attended by Phillipa York who previously competes as Robert Millar.  These and all media releases are available in the News Section of the Council website.

Social Media messaging remains a key focus and effective channel for engaging with East Dunbartonshire communities with a total of 274 posts over the past two weeks (151 posts on Facebook (55%) and 123 posts on Twitter (45%)).  Twitter currently has 18.8k followers and a total reach over the fortnight of 2.4 million. The moving of the community test centre to War Memorial Hall achieved the greatest reach of 38,234 and the mural to Robert Millar was next with a reach of 24,222.

Top Twitter Posts for reach:

twitter posts

On Facebook, the 151 posts reached over half a million people (515k) and there 19,996 followers on the Council’s Facebook page.  The highest reaching post the move of the Asymptomatic Testing Centre to War Memorial Hall with a reach of 22,663 (a further post also reached over 17,000 on the same theme) and the new Lenzie Rugby pitch was next highest with a reach of 19,471.

Top performing Facebook Posts:

facebook posts
councillors at war memorial hall     cyclist in front of mural      councillors at lenzie academy

The new Consultation & Engagement Strategy 2021 - 24 was agreed by Council on 17 June, building on the previous strategy and setting out the approach to ensure consistency and inclusion in all consultation and engagement activity. Work is progressing with Place and Community Planning colleagues to better involve community outreach activity in wider Council community engagement.  Current consultation activity in line with the Consultation & Engagement plan for 2021/22 can be found on the Consultation Page of the Council website.

The Graphic design section has provided new signage and promotional materials, including a new video to support the move of the Community Testing Centre and wider graphics and document design in support of the Council’s services.

Customer Services

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

The wider Customer Services team continues to respond to changing priorities and fluctuating numbers of daily enquiries, predominantly in response to local and national measures in relation to Covid-19 including vaccination and testing and to service changes and announcements as these are communicated and promoted. 

Digital channels as well as phone calls are responded to, and in the past fortnight there were a total of 50 direct messages on social media channels.  A total of 19 were received and 16 sent through Facebook and 10 were received and five sent through Twitter.

Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance with a strict appointment-only based approach remains in place and is working effectively for the necessary face to face elements required for licensing applications at Bearsden Community Hub.  Likewise, Registration services (delivered by Customer Services Agents/Assistant Registrars) continue to effectively provide a 5-day service delivery in line with current guidance.  Death registrations are delivered remotely through telephone appointments from Kirkintilloch Community Hub where documentation can be issued.  Birth registrations are being undertaken in real time with a preliminary telephone appointment prior to a face to face appointment for the final stage and signing of the register.  A strict appointment system also remains in place for marriage paperwork submission.  Ceremonies are being delivered at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been risk assessed and appropriately signed for those attending.  Ceremonies are in strict compliance with current stay at home guidance and maximum numbers permitted. Guidance and advice for ceremonies is provided in line with current guidance and the road map out of lockdown.

Plans are progressing to look at customer service delivery through the Community Hubs once restriction levels permit these to be reopened.  This will be on an appointment basis with appropriate Covid-19 measures in place and will be communicated to the public once plans have been finalised and elected members briefed.

Shared Services

The school support co-ordinators are working with Business and Digital Change colleagues to implement interim finance processes due to the retirement of the SEEMIS Finance module while continuing to provide support to primary, nursery and education units including covering office staff absence.   Homecare and Residential Teams are processing paperwork for all services for the more vulnerable people within East Dunbartonshire ensuring that the new framework rates are applied.  The Transport Team are continuing preparations for the next academic year by collating paperwork for Round 2 of the ASN tendering process whilst awaiting the award of Round 1 contracts.  The team are liaising with SPT for the mainstream transport contracts that are required from August.  The final EMA payments for this academic year have been processes by the EMA Team.  They have also started preparations for the next school session in August. 

The Early Years Team, in conjunction with the Business Change Team, continue the preparations for the new SEEMS Early Years system.  SEEMIS anticipated that the new system would go live in time for the new academic year.  The implementation plan for the Council included the some data processing for the new system instead of the existing system.  The team are now undertaking the data processing and preparing final invoices for this academic year resulting in an increased workload at this time. 

The General Team continues to support the Test & Protect Service through the National Assistance Helpline while providing assistance to the Scottish Welfare Fund Team.  The increase in cases is reflected in an increase in the number of calls required from Test & Protect.  The team are reviewing the Blue Badge applications process changes due to introduction of new Scottish benefits systems.  The Social Work Team continues to process all referrals for social work, including Homecare and Child Protection.

The Letting Team are working to bring Community Lets back in line with COVID protocols and current legislation.  The process is much more complex than normal as each let has to be assessed against the guidance from governing bodies such as Sport Scotland, capacity restrictions for each space and the capacity of the overall building. Lets must also be staggered to manage the number of people in communal areas during entrance and exit while increasing the time between lets to accommodate additional cleaning.  The Team have consulted with Health & Safety and Facilities Management colleagues to ensure the safety of all users of the community facilities. The Team have also been in touch with groups to discuss their requirements for return and will work to bring indoor lets back over the coming weeks.  

Revenues & Benefits

The Scottish Welfare Fund continue to place a high demand on services we deliver, with an increase in the numbers of ‘Self-Isolation Support Grant’ applications, which are prioritised along with the crisis applications. Community care grants have stabilised, however, we are still administering 30% more crisis grants compared to pre Covid figures.

Non Domestic rates is still continuing to see higher than normal levels of workload and additional resource is allocated to this area.  The Non Domestic Rates Relief are now published on the website as required by Scottish Government.  The team continue to work with colleagues in Business Gateway on all the numerous Scottish Government grants to support businesses during the current period.

The Benefits Team are still seeing high levels of applications, particularly for Council Tax Reduction. We are continuing to meet our performance objectives in this area. The Housing Benefit Accuracy Initiative is continuing in line with the DWP requirements.

We are currently preparing a plan and timetable to process the Low Income Pandemic Payments in line with the Scottish Government guidance.

Council Tax and Council Tax Recovery is processing a large volume of customer interactions with the process continuing as normal.  The team have prepared the first summary warrants for 21/22 which will be issued issued this week. Debtors’ invoices and recovery are continuing as normal and the team have completed the billing for Milngavie BID for 21/22.

ICT

The Infrastructure Team continues to support the major assets programme and various transformation projects across the Council. The team are also planning upgrades to the schools network infrastructure and device replacement programme. 

The Council requires an annual compliance check to allow us to connect to the Public Service Network (PSN).  The ongoing patch process that all EDC users are aware of is one strand of the compliance, however, we are also required to have a third party security specialist complete an annual survey of our corporate ICT estate and submit that report as part of our certification process.  The 3rd party have completed their survey and we are awaiting the findings from the report.

The team have also been involved in a series of workshops with our support partner for the implementation of Microsoft Office 365.  The current discovery phase allows the partner to understand our current infrastructure and prepare a report outlining the work required to prepare for the transition to Office 365.

The Support Team continue to provide support across the Education and Corporate estates working to agreed SLAs.  The team are in the process of replacing all of the Homecare mobile phones to meet the required security standard for the latest version of the CM2000 system. 

FINANCE & AUDIT

Work within the finance team continues to move closer towards statutory year-end tasks and the preparation for financial reporting and subsequent audit.  This work covers the Council’s main financial statements as well as Mugdock Country Park, Charitable Trusts and support for the IJB.  Ongoing developments and technical guidance continue to inform the year-end position which will be presented to Council in draft prior to the end of June 2021.  Whilst the provisions of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act have been extended work continues on the basis that options to extend deadlines for draft financial reporting will not be exercised albeit the final annual audit report will likely be delayed until the end of October.  Despite more challenging circumstances and increased technical guidance at the year end and extension to draft accounts has not been planned for although at the time of writing this is remains finely balanced.  To action such a delay would have implications for future planned work including the teams ability to support the Council's Covid recovery.  Whilst the Accounts are acknowledged as being vitally important it should be noted that the first June deadline is for draft accounts.  Whilst we work toward producing a quality output teams are gearing up to work with Audit Scotland throughout the audit process to ensure that any issues identified and points raised are included in the audited version later in the year. 

The work of the team also continues to support the Council’s ongoing Best Value Review due for reporting to the Accounts Commission later in the year.  This work covers all aspects of the Council work including governance, finance, workforce and performance.  In addition specialist Best Value auditors have now met with Partners to provide a more detailed assessment of work within Community Planning and Partnerships.  This work covers much of the Council’s response to Covid-19 and provide an important assessment of the Council demonstrating Best Value up to and throughout the last year.  All initial meetings with Officers, Members and Partners have been concluded with the report currently being drafted with residual points or clarifications being provided.

In addition work continues on a number of business as usual activities as previously reported to Elected Members.  These efforts continuing throughout our teams.  Significant work is ongoing to support payments, the administration of new grants and systems developments to support the ongoing Council efforts.

The Finance Team continues to engage with services to track the impact of Service arrangements and the attributable costs of Covid; this work is being finalised for reporting at the year end.  This work will inform future discussions about services with new announcement on funding occurring on a regular basis.  Otherwise the process of business grants administrations continues to be challenging to manage with new forms of funding requiring administration and the development of guidance.  This continues to increase the workload of all supporting teams with enhanced financial monitoring being required.  With work ongoing in relation to a number of additional grants it will be necessary for the Council’s internal audit team to validate and consult on new control processes. 

The Council’s Chief Finance Officer continues to work with COSLA and the Directors of Finance to represent the best interests of Local Government and the Council as efforts increasingly turn to budget setting and year end outturn.  Work is also ongoing to review the requirements, guidance and notifications required to put in place a number of additional fiscal flexibilities to assist the Council as part of its future financial planning.  The team is actively working with COSLA to inform the Scottish Government budget process making representations in a number of core areas for future funding including new Human Rights Legislation.

Technical Accounting

Work is increasingly focused on the delivery of a comprehensive set of Financial Statements working with other Finance Teams, Internal and External Audit to set the parameters and agree the application of technical guidance to be included in the current year.  Work is also ongoing to maintain and improve the Council's financial systems and controls, including alterations required to the Oracle ledger system and ongoing financial year end work.

The team continue to provide support the discharging of 6,045 grants to businesses totalling £27,163 million and reclaiming that from the Scottish Government. Existing schemes are now being finalised with work ongoing to prepare for new schemes from the new government.  The timescales for these continue to be challenging.

Current VAT issues including adapting the Council's VAT return to meet HMRC's requirements under Making Tax Digital and the construction reverse charge have been implemented.  Due to the nature of the pandemic the last two VAT returns have required further information to be provided to the HMRC with subsequent requests for information on Business Grant awards which has the potential to require significant additional time to accommodate.  The scale and timing of developments in these areas ensure that the work of the team to support other teams in the Council continues at pace.

The compliance and systems team continues to work with the Business and Digital change team to improve the Council's income systems to provide a better service to customers and to secure the Council's income streams against the effects of Covid. This extends to providing support for the post-Seemis system development within Education and the finalisation of VAT issues and user support.

Revenue Team

The team continue to support the finalisation of expenditure expectations in relation to Covid.  This includes tracking the various income streams to establish whether funding is additional to support the anticipated financial gap or in the form of a grant to offset new, additional and required expenditure.  This is being constantly reviewed and will is being included for year end analysis and reporting.  This work has now been consolidated into a single tracker and circulated to Executive Officers to ensure good governance and to aid reporting.  The tracker has also formed the basis for Elected Member Reporting as part of the year-end outturn report.

The team continues working towards the financial year end report, including that for Mugdock, as well as finalising the Election costs and return.  Mugdock accounts are now largely complete for issue in Draft format for Auditors.

The Teams is also supporting the development of solutions to manage Seemis retirement of budgeting functions for schools.  This is a technically challenging task lead by Organisational Transformation teams

Treasury, Capital & Housing

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

The Capital & Housing Team are now focussed on year-end activities including the outturn for the Council’s Capital Programme as well as that relating to the trust.

Internal Audit and Fraud

Internal Audit have continued to work on planned audits including Social Work Charging, Corporate Health and Safety, Buildings Regulatory Compliance, the Highways Code, and Business Grants Testing.  Full details of recently completed internal audit work will be provided at the Council meeting in June.  The appeals work on the Strategic Framework Business Fund and Discretionary Grants has been completed, although there may be an organisational requirement for further support which will be provided in the event of any future grant schemes. The completion of the appeals work has enabled more of a return to business as usual. The team are liaising with the various services to understand where risks and pressure points are and seeking to schedule in 2021/22 planned audit work.  In addition, the team have been working on year end reports and assurance for both the Council and the HSCP and providing ad hoc advice and support where required.

The Corporate Fraud Team is focusing on National Fraud Initiative (NFI) matches, and business grants and school places investigations.  The Team has continued assessing the NFI matches and commencing investigations, focussing on the high priority matches and those that are most likely to yield results which at present are the single person discount matches for Council Tax.  Further data matches, relating to Covid Business Grants distributed in the year, are expected imminently. The team is also working with Corporate Health and Safety to perform risk assessments for the resumption of face to face work, which will allow the progression of cases which are currently limited through desk based working.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 18 June 2021

HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning

All departmental and overarching Business Continuity Plans continue to be in place.  A Covid-19 annex to the HSCP Business Continuity Plan provides more detailed information on essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements, arrangements to support and sustain commissioned services, arrangement for sustaining staff capacity and communications.  These business continuity frameworks will continue to be updated in response to presenting and projected pressures and developing guidance. Virtual management team meetings are also well established The HSCP Board has resumed normal business processes, albeit virtually.   This approach will be reviewed again post recess.

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 Q4 full-year report will be presented for consideration at the IJB’s June meeting. The full annual performance report will be presented in September.    

In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, an HSCP Transition and Recovery Plan has been developed, with a focus on service remobilisation wherever safe and possible to do so.  This is updated iteratively in line with Scotland’s updated routemap.  The HSCP is also linking with the Council and NHSGGC on ensuring consistent decision-making and communication on service prioritisation and transition planning.  A number of business continuity response and tracking arrangements have now been de-escalated to standby status in order to re-direct resources to recovery planning and delivery of services. They can be re-escalated immediately if necessary. The recent upturn in covid prevalence in the community has not impacted service delivery to date. 

The HSCP has completed its aspects of the vaccination programme with occasional mop up for housebound patients where required. Consideration will have to be given in the near future to how the 2021 flu immunisation programme and any further covid ‘booster’ programmes will be delivered. National and NHSGGC guidance is awaited in these areas. Opportunities continue to be offered to all health and social care staff, and those in supporting roles, who are front facing, and arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services.

Public Protection

Public protection work, which includes child and adult protection, drug and alcohol services, metal health, and a range of justice services, continues to be prioritised. Incoming referrals for adult and child concerns are at a high and sustained level.

The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) continues but has returned to a frequency closer to normal levels.  The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued, but as with the COG meetings, has reduced frequency.  This ensures ongoing management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection, in a manageable manner.  The local Child and Adult Protection Committees have resumed consideration of expected business items, alongside data and emerging risks and issues. The newly appointed Joint Independent Convener of the committees has commenced in role.

Practices and processes for protection functions are updated in line with revised national guidance and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 as and when required. A specific public protection covid-19 risk register has also been developed to support ongoing work.  Items of concern are noted and escalated to COG. Work will commence to bring local child protection guidance in line with a refreshed national approach, once that is published. This is anticipated over the summer.

Service Delivery Impacts

Most social care services continue to be delivered on a business as usual basis e.g. statutory assessment and supervision services, care at home and residential care. Building based day and respite services have all now resumed, working on a revised and much reduced capacity basis, including Kelvinbank Resource Centre and Milan day centre.  Alternative forms of support are provided where possible. It has been noted that the levels of need and complexity of care required for people accessing our care at home and rehabilitation services is particularly high.

Assessment and Care Management

Social Work assessment and care management referrals are operating at or exceeding pre-pandemic levels with notable upturns in drug and alcohol, mental health, community care and community nursing service requirements. Numbers of East Dunbartonshire residents going to and being admitted to hospital continue to be high with a resulting pressure around people whose discharge from hospital is delayed. People delayed while awaiting legal powers to be put in place to enable discharge to a care home continue to make up 50% of the current delays. Largely this is out with the control of staff within either the HSCP or EDC. The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services. 

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

The Persons at Risk Database (PARD) that was been established to identify HSCP service users requiring ongoing contact during the Covid-19 response time period continues to be actively used. Numbers on the PARD remains fairly static at close to 6000. Those who do not receive a direct and ongoing care package e.g. home care, are contacted on a frequency that is defined by the assessed level of risk to their welfare and levels of need.

Direct Services

All of the Council’s in-house social care services continue to operate.  Our day services are operating on a limited basis.  The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis.  The oversight of all day services, including those delivered by 3rd and independent sector partners is monitored via the HSCP Registered Care Services Oversight Group which has input from public health and the Care Inspectorate.

Joint working with trade union colleagues continues to be very positive in responding to issues on the ground.

The ED Interim CO continues to lead pan NHSGGC on shared work on care at home and day care services and has also agreed to take a lead role on the Adults with Incapacity hospital discharge issues.

Testing for Social Care Staff

Covid testing is now embedded in routine practice for social work and social care staff.

Support to Care Homes

A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP is routinely provided 5 days a week and over the weekend where this is required. In line with Scottish Government requirements the HSCP has in place a regular safety ‘huddle’ to oversee the position of each local care home. Following publication of the national social care winter plan this group’s remit has expanded to cover all registered care services as described above, with an action plan in place to take forward these provisions. Scottish Government have confirmed that the additional scrutiny and assurance is required to remain in place until March 2022.

Processes for regular staff testing and enhanced outbreak testing of residents where required are well established. At the time of writing one care home in the area is experiencing an outbreak, however it is limited to specific identified members of staff, who are now self-isolating. Resident health and wellbeing has not been impacted. Indoor visiting in care homes began to be reintroduced from early March. As of the 16 April six people from six different households are permitted to visit a resident outdoors, as long as the care home area is in level 3 or lower as per Scottish Government rating, and the home has no outbreak. From this week guidance has been implemented that sets out how day and overnight trips out of care homes for residents can be safely arranged. The guidance is being implemented in all homes in the area.

Support to Home Care

The Care at Home service continues to be increasingly busy, with a noticeable trend towards referrals for more complex and staff intensive care support. There are particular challenges arising in capacity in the west of the locality linked to specific issues that two key west locality providers have. This may begin to impact on hospital discharge delays for people awaiting home care in that area. All required PPE and support for safe use of this continues to be in place.  Weekly testing for our care at home workforce is in place.

Other

The HSCP Board (IJB) has agreed for the HSCP Strategic Plan 2018-21 to be rolled forward for an additional 12 months, with the addition of Covid-19 critical response, transition and recovery to be added as an additional strategic priority for 2021-22.  This arrangement was agreed with the Scottish Government through the provisions of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.  A review of the 2018-21 Strategic Plan has been completed and preparatory work has now commenced on the new substantive HSCP Strategic Plan 2022-25. A one year ED HSCP Delivery Plan will be considered by the IJB in June.

Distribution List: 
All Elected Members, Corporate Management Team, Executive Officers, HSCP Senior Management Team General Manager, EDLCT, Corporate Communications