Technical Notes 2021, Issue 90 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Service Updates (30 July)

Report by: 
Gerry Cornes, Chief Executive
TN Number: 
90
Subject: 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Service Updates (30 July)
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 final comprehensive services update.

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 30 July 2021

ASSETS & FACILITIES

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 has been reviewed with a procedure which will negate the requirement to obtain warrants being agreed and implemented 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. The 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. Kitchen, Bathroom and Heating upgrade programmes remain hold and will be programmed to re-start as restrictions continue to ease and it's safe and practicable to do so.

Roofing replacement works 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 decoration works having started in the school estate. We have carried out some internal decoration works in temporary accommodation properties with more programmed this week and we are looking to have more of this type of work carried out in house going forward.

Facilities Management
Engagement has commenced with all FM employees in relation to the revised FM Service review with matching outcome letters and briefing packs issued. Planning is underway to hold Individual engagement sessions during the summer holiday period with identified employees. Recruitment will commence shortly to fill new positions within the FM Management structure. 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.

Snack n Play and Play-schemes are operating 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 expansion of free school meals to Primary 4 and 5 pupils (P4 August 21, P5 January 22), the service has identified additional catering resources and equipment required to deliver this and a recruitment exercise will commence shortly to ensure resources are in place for the commencement in August. 

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 approved by Council in June. Updated costs are awaited from the contractor and subject to these being within budget officers will move to finalise the construction contract however at this stage there remains a risk that costs will escalate and require a further Council approval.

Design and cost development for the ASN project remains on-going and a Stage 2 Report for the project was approved by Council in on 29th June.

The Estates Management team continue to develop and manage servicing and maintenance contracts across the Estate, with a priority on regulatory compliance and building safety, and this work progresses on a continual basis. The team also continue to deliver a repairs 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 Homelessness & Prevention Team is mainly working from home but also has access to the Office on a reduced rota. As part of wider COVID19 recovery plans the Team is preparing to recommence face to face appointments from September onwards as/when appropriate to do so.

There are currently 191 applicants awaiting offer of settled accommodation; only 3% have been waiting longer than 3 years (reduced from 20% in 2018/2019). There are no households in B&B and the Council has not breached the Unsuitable Accommodation Order to date.

During the 1st quarter of 2021/22:

- 75 homelessness applications made (53 applications during 2020/21; average 100 applications per quarter pre-covid)
- 16 offer appeals were received (during 2020/21 only 22 appeals were received in the full year)
- 19 households were provided with specialist advice in relation to moving to private rented accommodation; 5 households secured accommodation reducing time on homelessness list, reducing pressure on temporary/settled accommodation
- 37 households supported during out of hours (107 households supported in the first quarter of 2020/21)

Landlord Registration

- 57 new landlord registration applications were received
- 9 rent penalty notices issued to landlords who did not satisfy their legal obligations

Project 101 (youth homelessness services)

- 27 new referrals
- Project workers completed accredited mediation training

Temporary Accommodation Officers

- 43 applicants assisted to move into temporary accommodation
- 11 antisocial complaints investigated 

Housing Operations

The Team continues to work closely with Property Maintenance to ensure void properties are turned around as quickly as possible. There are 33 properties with the void team currently undergoing empty house repairs. Since April 2021, a total of 94 new tenancies have been created and terminations have been received for a further 13 properties which are due to become available for allocation within the next 28 days. 5 properties which were purchased from the open market have been allocated since April 2021 and a further 2 properties (awaiting repairs) have been offered to applicants from the housing list. The team also continues to work closely with Housing Associations in the area to provide nominations for void and new build properties in this sector. 33 new tenancies have been created since April 2021 as a result of nominations from the housing list to housing associations. 

Link Housing Association has released the final 23 flats for allocation in the new build site at Broomhill, Kirkintilloch, all of which will be allocated from the Council's housing lists. Work has started on the process of making provisional offers to the successful applicants for the 8 wheelchair flats in the first phase of the new build properties at Tom Johnston Place and also the 6 amenity properties at Blackthorn Avenue. 

There have been 28 new anti-social behaviour cases raised since the start of the financial year and the Estates Team continue to work closely with Police Scotland, Social Work and the Community Safety Team to deal with these cases and also noise complaints received of a more serious nature. In relation to anti-social behaviour - 1 tenancy has recently been converted to a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy (SSST) - this has been converted in line with legislation and with assistance from Legal Services.

Rents

The Rents Team continue to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support continues to be offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic, or, they are struggling to pay their rent. There continues however to be 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 due to Coronavirus (Scotland) Act regulations. The Rents Team continues to support and assist as many tenants as it can with Universal Credit claims/verifications, Discretionary Housing Payment claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also referring to CAB where required, to ensure that income is maximised. Rent arrears as of last week were £1,349,217.81 (week 16).

Tenant Participation

The next online TPWG meeting will be held on Thursday 26 August 2021. 

Systems and Policy

The Team are looking to establish a performance team that can take forward performance monitoring in line with the annual assurance statement. Performance statistics for HIGIOS have been collated to show results for the end of the first quarter of this financial year (April-June).

The tender is now out for consultancy work on the Local Housing Strategy and we hope to have a contract awarded in the next 4 to 6 weeks - once awarded the team will start the consultation work and pull together Housings' new strategy moving forward.

The new IHMS tender is still live and will close at the end of July when an evaluation stage will begin and a contract will hopefully be awarded in the months to follow (ideally during October 21).

New Systems Development Officer, Karen Bell, started with the team on Monday the 5th July which brings the Systems Team back up to full capacity. 

Loft conversion options for families in over-crowded living conditions continue to progress and the team anticipate having the first one completed by the end of October 21.

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

Unfortunately the Building Standards team are experiencing a higher than normal upsurge in applications and general enquiries. The team are also currently carrying four vacancies within the team. We will be recruiting for the vacancies shortly but unfortunately it will mean longer turn around times than what we usually strive to achieve until we can get these positions filled. 

We are communicating this message to customers to help manage expectations over the coming weeks/months. The Planning team is currently finalising the Planning Performance Framework for the Scottish Government and preparing for the forthcoming Planning Board on the 3rd August.

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 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 was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 15 June 2021 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 2021 has been approved and promotion of the Plan is being undertaken. Work has commenced on initial project planning for a Circular Economy Strategy and will be the subject of a PNCA report in August 2021 subject to agreement on the agenda.

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 report on the Climate Conversation and the proposed programme for the preparation of the CAP was agreed at Council on 17 June. The Glasgow City Region Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan was endorsed by Council on 17 June and launched on 29 June 2021, with opening remarks from Councillor Vaughan Moody, Chair of Glasgow City Region’s Land Use and Sustainability Portfolio. Officers are now working with Climate Ready Clyde to establish a local authorities working group to co-ordinate the delivery of Flagship Action 1 in the Strategy, focusing on joint working to build capabilities and the delivery of collaborative adaptation. The work of this group is supporting the preparation of the adaptation strand of the CAP.

Work is commencing on a new Greenspace Strategy for the Council, to replace the existing Open Space and Green Network Strategies. The Strategy will be prepared in the context of the Glasgow City Region Green Network Blueprint and link into work on the delivery of the Clyde Climate Forest. A report covering work already completed on the open space audit and a draft audit and action plan covering the Council’s play areas, along with proposals for the preparation of the new Greenspace Strategy was approved by PNCA Committee in May. Early engagement on the Strategy, involving an online mapping tool, surveys and online sessions, commenced on 26 July, with online sessions taking place in August and September. A Technical Note with full details of the consultation was circulated to elected members on 23 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. 

Work continues on developing and maintaining various mapping applications including the StoryMap for the Bishopbriggs Town Centre Regeneration Consultation, an updated School Catchment Area Checker and integrating Greenspace and Active Travel consultation mapping opportunities. Work now continues working with officers throughout the council on extending the use and capabilities of the GIS software. The team are also working with partners at IDOX and ICT on a major upgrade to the planning, building standards and environmental health applications. This upgrade will aim to enhance the performance and reliability of the software and enable greater development to aid mobile working.

City Deal

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. 

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 continue to work with the core team on the first phase of the Bishopbriggs Public Realm Plan consultation. 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. A full update will be provided to Council in the Autumn including interim findings from the phase 1 town centre consultation. 

Regeneration & Town Centres

The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October 2020. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required. Phase 2 of the Milngavie West Highland Way Public Realm Project is scheduled to start construction on 26 July with completion due in late October. The Milngavie BID are leading the project with support provided by the Council as required. The team have secured £1.1m of Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the Twechar Canalside project and the budget has just received a further boost with the team successfully applying for £100,000 from Sports Scotland. The Regent Gardens and Union Street project is being progressed, working closely with the local community council preparing draft designs which are being finalised following public consultation. The designs will form part of a RIBA stage 3 report due to be completed in September. The team, Land Planning Policy and landowners continue working together to create a masterplan for the Kirkintilloch Business Gateway site. The aim is to create a coherent deliverable vision for the area which will encourage development in line with Council policies and strategies. Finally – designs have been finalised for an extended and renovated Campsie Memorial Hall in Lennoxtown as part of completed RIBA stage 2 report. The work has been completed in partnership with the Hall Trust Group and Community Planning & Partnerships to deliver on actions set out in the Lennoxtown Place Plan.

Business Support

The Taxi and Private Hire Support Fund opened on 28th June 2021 and following an extension to the application period finally closed on 23 July 2021. 216 application were received out of a possible 389 and numerous issues were encountered due to the online application process as many Taxi Operators were not in possession of appropriate technology. 200 applications have been processed and paid to date with the remainder under query or review.

Due to East Dunbartonshire moving to Level Zero the localised restriction grants also came to an end on 19th July 2021.

Over the last 12 months the team have administered around £27m in financial support and assistance for businesses continues in a variety of means for recovery and all issues as a result of the pandemic. Bespoke webinars continue to be well attended and popular, and a slight increase in start-ups has occurred in the last few weeks.

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.

The provision of internal audit information in respect of grants has been prioritised along with Property Level Data, HMRC reporting and other information requirements for Scottish Government which continues unabated. The SLAED indicators report is close to completion with submission to the Improvement Service due on Friday 30th July 2021

The Business Gateway programme is currently undergoing review but it is unlikely the full impact will be clear until the New Year, at which time services will probably need some level of redesign. The Digital Boost support contract for East & West Dunbartonshire is currently out for tender and support should be live by September.

Traditionally there is always a dip in service demands during July/August however there is likely to be increased demand from September onward when the full effect of the pandemic, withdrawal of furlough and other business support initiatives have come to an end.

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

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 on design options for the Canniesburn Toll Improvement Project has been completed, and the project consultants and reviewing feedback to help the next stage of design.

NEIGHBOURHOOD SERVICE

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

There has been an increase in demand over recent months in this area which has led to a strain on stock for some bins. Suppliers lead times have been extended however bins have been delivered recently and the service continues to work through outstanding requests in the system. Additional resources are working through these requests in order to catch up in this area. As always, priority is given to residual bin deliveries as resources allow.

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

The household waste recycling centre continues to work summer hours in order to meet the demands from the public. The changes have had a positive impact on spreading the access to the site over the longer working week. Full time traffic management remains in place in order to manage traffic on the main Balmuildy Road.

Booking System Update

The booking system has now been procured and officers with waste service continue to work with the Education People and Business Team on the implementation and roll out for the Household Waste Recycling Centre. The system, once in place will 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 SERVICES

Fleet Management

The service continues to manage the legal operation of the Councils fleet including compliance with the Goods Vehicle Operators licence, Drivers hours’ management and maintenance regimes. Officers continue to progress work on the fleet replacement Capital Programme for the coming financial year. Work has now been completed to allow the procurement team to issue tenders and orders for around 3 million pounds of new vehicles and items of plant 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 transport team are currently supporting Additional Support Needs for snack and play activities through the summer holidays. The Fleet management team also continue to manage vehicle and plant hire activities which have increased significantly over the year, as a consequence of the ongoing revised working arrangements for services, in delivering through the pandemic response.

PLACE & COMMUNITY PLANNING

Environmental Health Team

Rapid community transmission of the new Delta (Indian) variant of Covid-19 in recent weeks has increased the amount of contract tracing that the Environmental Health Service is currently being required to carry out. In the past 2 weeks there have been significant case numbers and clusters for the service to respond to and this work continues to create a huge additional demand for Environmental Health Officers. The team are working with Education colleagues to deliver contact tracing within schools and summer out of school clubs 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 investigation 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 and will remain in this level until 19 July 2021 at least. Environmental Health will continue to be at hand to respond to enquiries and engage with hospitality businesses trading under the current requirements. 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. 

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 has recommenced in known fly-tipping hotspots and we are hoping that in the coming weeks these cameras will 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.

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. At the moment the main focus for the Parking Wardens and Community Wardens in relation to Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) is our town centre areas, particularly since it is now the school holiday period.

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

In addition, a number of mobile CCTV cameras have again been deployed across the Council area to try and help tackle ongoing issues in terms of antisocial behaviour as well as more serious criminal offences.  These cameras have been deployed in conjunction and agreement with colleagues in Police Scotland.

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.

Officers continue to support the implementation of the Community Asset Transfer Policy. An asset transfer notice, of asset transfer under the Community Empowerment Act has been published. The request has been made by Antermony Development Trust and relates to Antermony Loch. The team have convened the multi-officer steering group to support and advise the community transfer body to provide additional information to enable the steering group to score and make recommendations.

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

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 20 August.
  • 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.
  • Carrying out CCTV survey at Canniesburn Toll, which revealed collapsed drainage on Drymen Road that is being attended to as an emergency.
  • Preparatory works to line drains on Switchback Road, Bearsden.
  • Further investigation regarding septic discharge on Antermony Road, Milton of Campsie
  • Responding to customer communications regarding flooding at the start of July

Development

  • Alan Houston has started as the Development Officer.
  • 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

  • A new Traffic Officer has been appointed, subject to a successful disclosure check.
  • The first average speed camera system within East Dunbartonshire has been installed on Auchinairn Road and has now gone live.
  • Meeting with Safety Camera Partnership to discuss potential new safety camera sites. 
  • 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.
  • Installation of traffic calming on Newdyke Road Kirkintilloch.

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 complete.
  • Easter Garngaber Rd Lenzie, Carriageway Resurfacing completed
  • Lennox Crescent, Bishopbriggs Carriageway Resurfacing Completed
  • Switchback Road Carriageway Resurfacing Programmed Completed
  • Newdyke Road Carriageway Resurfacing and Installation of Speed Tables Ongoing
  • Birdston Road Carriageway Resurfacing programmed for week commencing 2nd August

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 operations, mechanical sweeping, graffiti removal, fly posting removal, uplifting fly tipping.
  • Ongoing cemetery operations, including preparing & carrying out interments, grass cutting, herbicide application of monumental borders, installing headstone foundations. Assisting with funerals when required.
  • Cyclical grass cutting of open spaces, school grounds, housing estates, football pitches (initial marking).
  • Checking & clearing of culvert grills as determined by weather conditions.
  • Play equipment inspections & maintenance.
  • Seasonal flower bed maintenance.
  • Watering of hanging baskets.
  • Cutting of Right of Ways.
  • Shrub & hedge pruning in response to complaints & enquiries.
  • Roads Herbicide contract has been completed
  • Contract Road sweeper now attending to main roads and estates
  • Dealing with crm enquiries and service requests.

Streetscene Technical Support Team

  • Initial investigation completed on malfunctioning pump/fountain at Milngavie Library Pond
  • Clearance of drainage ditch and pipe completed at Kilmardinny Loch. Monitoring of Mosshead Park to be carried out in wet weather to determine impact of works on drainage of the play area.
  • Second herbicide application completed at wildflower meadow creation sites with ground preparation and seeding being carried out next week.
  • Spot treatment of invasive weeds at meadows at Meadowburn and Tantra bed completed.
  • SOR completed for cutting and lifting of meadows at the end of the season.
  • Landscaping and electrical works ongoing at Kilmardinny House.
  • Fencing contract for play area at Colquhoun Park has been awarded.
  • New seating installed at Kilmardinny House, Kilmardinny Loch, Colquhoun Park and Brackenbrae House. 3 old benches from Kilmardinny Loch donated to the Bearsden Men's Shed. Picnic bench ordered for Adamslie Park
  • Doune Crescent, Meadowburn North and Woodhead Park Project Tender briefs have been published and await returns
  • Wetpour Repair Project involving repairs to 25 play areas throughout East Dunbartonshire has been completed.
  • King George V New Zipline Mini Competition has been completed and a winning company chosen.
  • External Annual Inspection of all East Dunbartonshire Play Areas has been completed and reports for all areas received
  • Consultation on Climate Ready Park, Bishopbriggs concept designs is now live: https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/climate-ready-park-bishopbriggs-concept-design-consultation
  • Requests for quotes issued for tree surveys at Bishopbriggs Park and Roman Park
  • Ongoing meetings and correspondence with community groups including Lenzie Development Trust, Bearsden in Bloom and Gavin's Mill.
  • Team continues to respond to high volume of open space, tree and bereavement enquires, along with planning application consultations.

Mugdock Country Park

  • Summer events programme includes Sensational Safaris, Wildlife Weans, Craft with Clay, Forest School, Big Game Adventure, History and Mysteries, Dog Agility, Map Reading, Guided Walks and Go Batty events;
  • Additional patrols of the Park, in particular the quarry, by Mugdock staff and EDC Wardens, funded by NatureScot;
  • Ongoing repairs and maintenance programme to fences, bbq sites, play areas, Castle boardwalks etc;
  • Summer landscaping programme by Wardens;
  • Invasive species eradication and tree planting by Countryside Rangers;
  • Land hires continuing for bbqs, filming, small ceremonies;
  • Tender returns for new Mugdock Strategy scored and contract awarded;
  • Work to Walled Garden continuing with bandstand painting and up-lighting.

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 30 July 2021

EDUCATION

Schools remain on summer break with almost all Early Years centres remaining open. There has been a significant decrease in the amount of Covid-19 cases during the past few weeks. As yet, we await the new guidance for schools reopening and plans for testing of staff and secondary aged pupils are in place for the week before starting back.

Final SQA results will be issued in August. There will be no change to the provisional grades this year. There is then an appeal process, which can be done by young people directly, and there are clear criteria for an appeal.

The enhanced summer provision for all primary and secondary children who are eligible to attend either the Snack or Play programme or leisure activities in the Council’s Leisure centres has been well received with positive feedback from parents and children. A full evaluation is currently underway and will be reported to Education Committee later in the year. The provision in Campsie View and Merkland for children with additional support needs has also gone well and as part of the evaluation process, we will seek to views of parents as to how this facility can be enhanced in future.

Recruitment to Education Leadership Team has been undertaken during the summer break. Some key posts have already been appointed and are noted below:

  • Quality Improvement Manager for Early Years – Yasmin Ashby. Yasmin comes with significant experience as a Quality Improvement Officer of the Council. Yasmin’s background is strongly embedded in Early Years and she will be a major asset to the team. 
  • Quality Improvement Manager – Quality Assurance (Primary) – Annamarie McIntosh, former Head Teacher of Thomas Muir Primary School will commence this interim post when her current post is filled. Annmarie has a wealth of experience as Head Teacher of two schools within the Council. She also has a high level of experience in quality improvement processes.
  • Quality Improvement Manager – ASN and Children’s Rights – This new post will be filled by Jackie Swan, previously the ASN Service Manager. This role will allow the strategic overview of ASN and Children’s Rights in line with wellbeing recovery, The Promise, ASN Review and the Care Review in order to develop Council policy and quality assurance of mainstream and specialist provisions for children with additional support needs.
  • Jan Pollok, Gavin Haire, Gillian Dury and Drummond Stewart all remain in their substantive posts, as part of the existing Education Leadership Team.

Recruitment of Quality Improvement Officers and the Head Teacher vacancy for Thomas Muir Primary School are in process.

Ongoing work for Universal Free School Meals, free Instrumental Music provision and the additional Scottish Government announcement, as part of ‘100 days commitment’ to end charges for the core curriculum are underway. Officers will be undertaking scoping for each of these developments and will report on progress throughout the session.

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 ongoing supporting Services during the Summer period.

Procurement continue to work with Health & Safety on key contractual requirements, risk assessments and method statements.

Procurement are also currently supporting key work streams, these include New Build Housing Projects, City Deal, the new Integrated Housing Management System, Managed Stores, 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, Taxi Operators Grants, Pandemic Support Payments, and Care provider’s 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 processing 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 are also being 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.

Key system and database upgrades are ongoing, testing for Iproc processes and Invoice Payments are being ran in conjunction with the scheduled works.

Health & Safety

The Health and Safety Team has been carrying out throughout the summer, educational establishment inspections for the start of 2021-22 session at the same time as Contractor Site Surveys in all educational establishments undergoing refurbishment work

The team provided support, guidance and assistance to all services throughout the council while it continued to put into place the occupational health program and manage H&S enquiries, responding and recording of incidents, fire safety risk assessments and carrying out investigations.

Risk Assessments, Guidance and review provided to:

- Justice Services restart
- Community Protection Team
- Quality Assurance FM Team
- Waste review
- Property Maintenance summer works in schools
- Cemetery staff safe system of work
- Assets and Estates Team by reviewing all contractor work documentation pre commencing projects and liaison with new Boclair Academy contractors
- Procurement, along services requiring tender reviews to include H&S information
- Community Testing bus and portable site
- HR by supporting and carrying out RTW and workplace assessments
- EDLC with re opening of Libraries and summer program
- Customer Services restart and re-opening of hubs

Creation and review of procedures and training:

- Natural Gas and Carbon Monoxide Escape Procedure
- EDC DSE Assessment procedure & guidance
- Property Maintenance Trade Specifications
- Contractor management system
- Creation of Contractor Dust TBT

Training

- Ladder training for Rangers & Wardens at Mugdock Country Park.
- Safe electrical isolation for Property Maintenance Heating Engineers and Electricians
- New Starts Health & Safety Inductions

Occupational Health

- Continued management of the Health Surveillance program within all services of the council.
- Released report on the risk of NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss) amongst musical services employees and initiated the Hearing Conservation program
- Reprogrammed Greenspace & Streetscene Vibration Tags

Social Work Commissioning Team

Planning & Service Development Team continues to pro-actively lead and manage the commissioned market and guide and support providers through Covid recovery and re-mobilisation. Providing stability and sustainability across the market remains a daily priority for the team. 

P&D has an integral role in the Adults Services Oversight Group that has lead responsibility for monitoring and providing daily assurance across key internal and external service areas including care homes, care at home, supported accommodation and day care services. Although infection rates have increased locally, services continue to manage and adapt - in accordance with Public Health guidance, resulting in minimal outbreaks and little or no impact on service continuity. In addition to other reporting requirements, P&D monitors provider’s vaccination and weekly testing programmes along with PPE and any other infection control concerns and reports directly into the daily Oversight group to discuss and agree collective response. 

The Team is also instrumental in progressing a number of Health & Social Care priorities including: Strategic Plan (2022/ 2025), Commissioning Strategy and Market Facilitation Plan, Strategic Reviews including: Older People Social Supports, Learning Disabilities and, Mental Health & Alcohol & Drugs services. Engagement and consultation across the market will be a key focus over the coming months for the team and feedback from these events along with recovery planning and lessons learnt will feature heavily across reviews and help to inform and shape services going forward.

Following the successful transition of Care at Home services to Scotland Excel’s Flexible Framework, P&D has continued to support new providers to establish local services. Moving Forward, P&D is working with the HSCP to progress the re-modelling of homecare services into geographical Lots / block contracts – which are due to be implemented 1st April 2022. The benefits of moving to block contracts include; a more streamlined and efficient allocation of business, ensures and protects continuity of care and delivers value for money. 

P&D continues to facilitate Provider Sustainability Claims - and in line with national guidance, has recently engaged with providers to progress Retrospective Reconciliations. Work has also commenced to identify 5% efficiency savings across the Third Sector - revised service delivery models, reduction in overheads, increased use of technology and wider access to alternative funding streams are all areas that Services can identify required savings without adversely affecting service provision. 

On a daily basis, P&D receives and responds to service notifications and supports the HSCP with Child & Adult Support & Protection enquiries and investigations. P&D recently liaised with the Fire Service due to concerns raised across several supported accommodation services. The Health & Safety Team provided guidance and support to P&D and the HSCP in terms of required actions to help mitigate risks.

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, with payments being made in July/August. 

More recently, the Scottish Government announced a payment of £400 for Teachers that supported delivery of the Alternative Certification Model that replaced National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2020/21. In July, COSLA issued further guidance on the eligibility. HROD will work with Education colleagues 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 and issued. 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. 

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 requirements specification for a new Housing Management solution was finalised and the Invitation to Tender published with a closing date of 30th July. The team have responded to supplier clarification questions and are confirming the list of evaluators from associated services and arranging evaluation training. 

34 of the 38 Smart Working M365 sessions have now been held. 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 

Work is underway to implement a new Committee Management system. This will transform the process of collating and preparing committee documents for electronic publication, provide greater engagement with the public and improving the access to council documents online. 

Work is underway to develop a new booking system for Mavis Valley Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) 

The team are working in partnership with Property Maintenance, Streetscene & Greenspace and Roads to finalise the requirements specification and issue an Invitation to Tender for a new Managed Stores supplier. 

Business cases are in development for a new Web Content Management System (CMS) and integrated Customer Relations Management (CRM) system and a new Employability Management System to provide more accessible management information on employability performance and to track learners. 

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 August to define the project scope and future state of the Telecare service. 

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

The team continue to lead the roll out of the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme for pre-school children spending two hours or more in the care of a regulated day care provider and/or childminders. 

Work is under way to help deliver a new e-Learning management system (LMS) to transform the learning experience for staff through the provision of an accessible, responsive e-learning platform. 

Work continues to develop a roll out plan for a pilot of Parents Portal to schools within the Lenzie cluster. 

Work has commenced to implement improved reporting of road traffic incidents within East Dunbartonshire which help to inform decision making processes for upgrading the road network within the Council area. 

Business Systems have implemented interim mid-year patches for a number of systems ensuring the Council’s systems remain secure and compliant. The Oracle database upgrade for Council Tax was successfully completed we are now running the latest application version. Work has also commenced on upgrading the Council Planning and Building Control systems. The team are also working with Procurement colleagues to issue new support and maintenance contracts, including some additional features. This work is at an advanced stage with contracts expected to be issued within 2-4 weeks for Servitor and Council Tax Citizens Access. 

LEGAL & DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

Vaccinations Community Testing

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 a change in approach has seen all appointed clinic sessions also double up as drop in sessions in order to make vaccination as accessible as possible. This is aimed at encouraging and/or removing barriers to younger age cohorts taking up the opportunity for vaccination. In addition, the NHS GG&C vaccination bus attended Chapel Road car park in Lennoxtown on Friday 23rd July. Both the drop in sessions and the bus were and continue to be aimed at those who have missed their first appointment and those who have waited more than 8 weeks for a second appointment.Officers still await detailed information which breaks down the take up of the vaccine across various indicators, however it remains the case that generally uptake rates in East Dunbartonshire are good and that women are still more likely to be vaccinated than men and that differential is increasing as the programme moves on to younger cohorts. 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 and logistical changes which are often intimated by NHS GG&C at short notice. 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. 

Officers in both Legal & Democratic and the HSCP are now planning for booster clinics and details will be shared once more information is available. 

Community Testing

Similarly, the Service is leading on planning for community asymptomatic testing across East Dunbartonshire. These centres are 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. 

Following a recruitment exercise, the Council’s mobile and portable testing solutions will be rolled out in the next week or so. These will enable greater access to asymptomatic testing and home testing kits, 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 has been 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. It is currently undergoing clinical sign-off and it is intended to soft launch next week - a more detailed Technical Note will be issued in advance of the launch once the sign-off process is completed. 

The portable option is also subject to clinical sign off and comprises two booths which can be set up in different locations across East Dunbartonshire for a defined period. Planning for the initial locations is ongoing and further details will be shared once this is concluded. 

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. 

In the last few weeks, the team has been engaging with Scottish Government in relation to the possible development of symptomatic testing within the car park at the War Memorial Hall in order to compliment the asymptomatic testing and provide a better wrap around service where people with symptoms or identified through track and trace attend the War Memorial Hall in error. These discussions are ongoing.

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. 

The Team continues to be involved in the strategic management of Registration Services at a local and regional level. 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 and bookings are starting to increase as a result of the easing of restrictions. The Team continues to closely monitor the ever developing situation around restrictions and what they mean for ceremonies and receptions. This will be continuously under review in light of changing restrictions. Between 15 – 26 July, 114 Births and 173 deaths were registered; 34 wedding ceremonies were conducted with several more being re-arranged due to changing Scottish Government Covid guidelines. From 30 June the Registrar has been conducting Mixed Sex Civil Partnership Ceremonies in accordance with the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020.

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. In addition, the Team was involved in the response to the recent incident at Santander in Kirkintilloch and as recently as this week, was involved in contingency planning in response to amber weather warnings.

Initial planning is in train for the 2022 Local Government Elections scheduled for 5 May 2022. This will intensify in August to include plans for both the election event its self and for the initial weeks of the new Council post 5th May. Members will be regularly updated as plans develop.

The team is now in the midst of work supporting the new diary of Council and Committee meetings. The initial stages (draft agendas etc) commenced earlier this month. Prior to this, the Team delivered an intensive programme of Placing Request Appeals and continues to deal with late appeals. 

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

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 will assist the evaluation team with the legal questions that are likely to arise during that exercise and before appointment.

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 physical appearances in court by the team are becoming more commonplace following the easing of restrictions. 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 involved in 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 only the second hearing conducted in-person in Scotland since the pandemic began) 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 regularly. 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 the easing of restrictions on hospitality and the increase in demand for outside areas where alcohol can be consumed.

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. 

In addition to the above, the Team is currently involved in 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 have now taken place and the Team, along with colleagues in Democratic Services, provided support to these. The team is now 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 almost compete and a number of new colleagues have joined legal Services. It is hoped that by Autumn 2021 the team will be much better resourced to be able to continue to support the Council through the projects and challenges which lie ahead. 

CUSTOMER & BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES

Corporate Performance & Research

The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues to support data collation and quality assurance for performance reporting across all service areas 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 including responding to FOI requests, volumes of which have continued to be high in recent weeks. The team have also continued to provide day to day support in regards to insurance queries providing a first point of contact for escalations with our claims handlers and our brokers.

In the last fortnight HGIOS reporting has been a particular focus for the team with Q1 reports for all service areas due to go to the first committee cycle following recess, additionally the team have completed the Annual East Dunbartonshire Area profile 2021, a comprehensive document providing an up to date overview of local area based statistics to inform future service delivery. This area profile has been supplemented with the production of area profiles for our four place areas which will be used to inform the upcoming reviews to our locality plans.

Work is also underway in implementing the performance improvement action plan approved by Council in June. Including preparation of further supplementary LGBF reporting and Improvements to the performance pages of our website. The team have also collated appropriate data to inform the annual LGBF return to the Improvement Service in August.

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. The publication of Technical Notes on the Council website, introduced in early April, has seen three Technical Notes published in the last two week period.

Communications support for Covid-19 drop-in vaccination centres continues, with social media messages to promote their locations. Media management has seen the team respond to 10 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: a consultation on a Climate Ready Park for Bishopbriggs with a call for residents to have their say on plans for Woodhill and Etive Parks; the return of browsing at EDLC Libraries as they welcomed back customers; the location for the visit of a Covid-19 vaccination bus to Lennoxtown; and the launch of the Greenspace Strategy Consultation with residents being encouraged to get involved and have their say. 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 342 posts over the past two weeks (179 posts on Facebook (52%) and 163 posts on Twitter (48%)). Twitter currently has 18.9k followers and a total reach over the fortnight of 3.2 million. A tweet about the locations of Covid-19 drop-in clinics in East Dunbartonshire achieved the greatest reach of 49,885 and the Council's litter prevention campaign was next with a reach of 26,615.

Top Twitter Posts for reach:

top twitter

On Facebook, the 179 posts reached over six hundred thousand people (612k) and there are 19,996 followers on the Council’s Facebook page. The highest reaching post was one about Switchback Road in Bearsden reopening early with a reach of 15,596 and a post about the visit of Covid-19 vaccination bus to Lennoxtown was next highest with a reach of 15,223.

Top performing Facebook Posts:

top facebook

The Graphic design section continues to provide new signage and promotional materials, including a new summer safety booklet 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. 

A full range of customer services are now being delivered from all Community Hubs (Kirkintilloch, Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and Lennoxtown) through appointments and drop-ins with appropriate Covid-19 health & safety measures in place. Licensing and Registration services (delivered by Customer Services Agents/Assistant Registrars) are also now available on an appointments basis across all four Community Hubs. The numbers of customers attending the Community Hubs since the reopening are still relatively low and we continue to prioritise telephone calls as the main point of contact for customers. We also continue to develop and promote our online services.

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 Covid-19 guidance and maximum numbers permitted. Guidance and advice for ceremonies is provided in line with current guidance and the road map out of lockdown.

Digital channels as well as phone calls are responded to, and in the past fortnight there were a total of 168 direct messages on social media channels. A total of 66 were received and 57 sent through Facebook and 43 were received and 22 sent through Twitter.

Shared Services

The school support co-ordinators continue to be involved in testing the interim processes due to the retirement of the SEEMIS Finance module including the development of a new supply timesheet process as part of the supply booking system. The school support co-ordinators are also creating work records for the new intake of probationer teachers for the next academic year. The Homecare Team are uplifting rates following the introduction of a new framework for care providers and the Residential Team are issuing their annual financial assessment letters following the changes in benefits/rates. The Transport Team have collated paperwork for Round 3 of the ASN/SW tendering process and are now advising operators and parents/service users of the new contract details for the Social Work Contracts that start from 1st August. The team are finalising arrangements with SPT for the mainstream transport contracts that are required from August including concessionary transport applications. Now that we have received the Scottish Government EMA criteria for the next school session in August, applications are being submitted online which the EMA Team are assessing and processing for payments in line with the start of the new school session.

The Early Years team have issued the final invoices for 20/21 and continue preparation for new SEEMIS Early Years system. The Education Team have supported colleagues in the handling of placing request appeals. The General Team continue to support the Test & Protect Service through the National Assistance Helpline. The team are preparing to implement a new version of the helping hands system which should streamline the processes. The Community Letting Team are processing the annual lets for 21/22. This is later than normal due to the changing COVID regulations which require policy decisions as we become aware of them. In the interim, the team have returned a number of lets on a short term basis pending the full allocation for the new academic year. The new Scottish Milk & Health Snack Scheme has been successfully launched between Shared Services and the Business Change Team. The Social Work team continues to process all referrals for social work, including Homecare and Child Protection.

Revenues & Benefits

The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to place extremely high demand on services we deliver. In particular we have seen a significant increase in ‘Self-Isolation Support Grant’ applications since June 2021 and we are giving priority to these claims along with the crisis applications. Crisis grants now seem to have stabilised but are running at 27% higher than pre-Covid levels.

Non Domestic Rates cases are higher than pre-Covid levels, however, they are now at a consistent level.

The Benefits area continues to deal with high levels of enquiries and applications, particularly for Council Tax Reduction. We are continuing to meet our performance targets in this area. The Housing Benefit Accuracy Initiative is continuing in line with the DWP requirements.

We have now issued 6,500 Low Income Pandemic Payment letters and residents are required to complete the form and return them in the reply paid envelopes. The returns will then be collated for payments to be made starting late August.

Council Tax and Council Tax Recovery continues to be busy with significant numbers of customer interactions. The second summary warrants for 21/22 are currently with the courts for signature and will be issued when this is signed.

Debtors’ invoices and recovery are continuing as normal.

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 security patch process that we regularly undertake is an important part of the compliance, however, we are also required to have a third party security specialist complete an annual review of our ICT systems and submit the report as part of our certification process. The recommended actions from the report have now been completed and the paperwork is being prepared for submission to the Cabinet Office.

The team have also been involved in a series of workshops with our support partner for the implementation of Microsoft Office 365 attending the next phase of workshops which are highlighting the range of features available.

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 has now moved past the statutory year-end tasks with finalisation of draft financial reporting completed and the audit process now starting. 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 were used to finalise the year-end position which was presented to Council in draft at the end of June 2021. Whilst the provisions of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act have been extended work continued 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 an extension to draft accounts was not applied which is a testament to the work of the finance teams. To action such a delay would have implications for future planned work including the team’s 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 was 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 (likely September). 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 progressing through Audit Scotland’s internal processes with residual points and clarifications now being finalised.

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 the administration and reporting of business grant payments 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 now being finalised and reporting at the year end. This work will inform future discussions about services with new announcement on funding occurring on a regular basis (notably the first 100 days commitments). 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 for 2022/23 and beyond the 2020/21 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 Final Financial Statements following the completion of the Draft Accounts. This continues to include working with other Finance Teams, Internal and External Audit to refine 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 post-SEMIS systems development and ongoing financial year end work.

The team continue to provide support the discharging of around 6,100 grants to businesses totalling £28.2 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 includes ensuring Covid hardship payments are appropriately recorded and ongoing efforts to keep income figures up to date across the Council.

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 has been 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. Further work also includes:

  • working towards the Period 3 reporting, including that for Mugdock, as well as finalising the Election costs and accounts. Mugdock accounts have been issued in Draft format for Auditors.
  • work ongoing in relation the roll out of the Free School Meals to understand the extent to which additional costs incurred will be offset by the grant received remains a crucial consideration with escalation of costs in relation to some supplies.
  • 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 team are also currently processing all the summer pandemic /school meals/isolation grant payments within the required time frame.

The Capital & Housing Team are now focussed on preparing the period 3 committee reports for council , they are also engaged in providing all working papers for external audit and resolving any queries they may have .

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. Work has commenced on a number of additional audits including a review of the Adults with incapacity fund management process and Total Mobile. A new Auditor has now started in the team, which will allow the pace of completion of the audit plan to be accelerated in the coming months. To this end the team are liaising with the various services to understand where risks and pressure points are and seeking to schedule in remaining 2021/22 planned audit work. In addition, the team have completed year end reports and assurance for both the Council and the HSCP and are continuing to provide 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 have worked with Corporate Health and Safety undertaking risk assessments which has allowed for the resumption to face to face work, which allows the progression of cases which were previously limited through desk based working. This work includes house visits, interviewing witnesses and interviews under caution

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 30 July 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 was 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 seen an impact on staff availability for front line services, as a result of the contact tracing process, but to date the level of the impact has not required direct service reductions. Close monitoring is in place to ensure a live understanding of the position, as part of the business continuity planning. 

The HSCP now has some clarity on its expected role in the 2021 flu immunisation programme and the covid ‘booster’ programmes, which will be focussed on care home residents, housebound individuals, and health and social care staff. Details re timing and delivery model still being established. Joint planning work is underway with Council colleagues in legal service in their capacity as lead for the Council’s components of delivery.

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, with some fluctuation, are at a high and sustained level. Statutory mental health interventions with individuals have also been at a high 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.

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, due end July/early August.

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 reduced capacity basis, including Kelvinbank Resource Centre and Milan day centre, albeit capacity increases are being implemented where it is safe and appropriate to do so. Alternative forms of support are provided where possible. Referral rates for day care services for older people have been higher than usual, thought to be reflective of a combination of carer fatigue for families who have been supporting individual themselves during the most restrictive phases of lockdown and a reluctance to access residential respite services which may be because of the requirement to isolate within the services following admission.

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.

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 and our care at home service, and those we commission, are stretched. The west of the area is particularly affected and there is a risk of a knock on detrimental effect on hospital discharges. This would be very challenging for NHSGGC as hospital capacity is also very limited, reflective of a national position. Discussion is taking place at a national level on potential options to better support care at home services Scotland wide.

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.

The Care Inspectorate have undertaken an Inspection of the in-house service. The resulting report is due in August. Verbal feedback indicated many very positive aspects but with some specific procedural points where it was considered there could still be room for improvement. Meeting these requirements in the way the inspectors would prefer to see it, has been impacted by the additional pressures of the pandemic response.

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 and 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 no care homes in the area are experiencing an outbreak. Indoor visiting in care homes is in place in all services in the area.

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 was approved by the IJB in June.

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