Technical Notes 45 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Service Update

TN Number: 
045-21
Subject: 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Service Update
Publication: 
All Elected Members, Corporate Management Team ,Executive Officers, HSCP Management Team, Corporate Communications
Details: 

PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 21 May 2021

ASSETS & FACILITIES

Property Maintenance

Gas Safety inspections are ongoing with all properties having their annual service carried out within the anniversary date. We continue to closely monitor inspections with warrants being sought to access properties as and when required to ensure ongoing compliance across our housing stock.

Excellent progress has been made on reducing the number of void properties, we now have circa 30 properties online and we continue to utilise resources to reduce these numbers further . The implementation of improvement measures has streamlined operations and further measures will be introduced to enhance service delivery going forward. Emergency and essential reactive repairs are ongoing with non-essential repairs now also being carried out as Covid restriction ease.The minor works element of the Care & Repair service has now resumed.

Aids & Adaptation works are ongoing with good progress being made in completing these works. Smoke and Heat detector installation programme continues across the estate as we continue to work towards achieving the Government target date for completion. Heating, Kitchen & Bathroom replacement programmes remain on hold and will restart as soon as is practicable and safe to do so.

Roofing replacement works are on hold at the moment due to material supply issues and will resume as soon as this has been resolved. Good progress continues in carrying out reactive and larger scale refurbishment works across the education and non-housing stock.

The coordination of the recent election went very well and all staff played their part in ensuring that everything went according to plan. We are now assisting in the setting up additional Covid test centres across the district and this will continue over the coming weeks.

Facilities Management

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

The implementation of Cashless Catering in Primary schools is complete with twenty eight schools now operating the cashless catering system and the existing cashless system in all Secondary schools and new build Primary schools has been upgraded, completing the full roll out of this project. The pre-order system is operational in Secondary schools which allows pupils to pre-order lunches from mobile phones and view orders and balances. 

With the hand-over of Oakburn and Lairdsland EYC, cleaning and Janitorial staff are contracted to positions within each premise and are currently supporting Early Years staff in preparation of the opening to staff and pupils.  The lunch provision will be exported from identified Secondary schools and work has been undertaken to ensure all necessary equipment is in place to provide the lunch time service.

The revised nutritional standards for school meals came in to effect from 22nd April and the catering team have liaised with suppliers to source alternative products to ensure the school lunch menu is compliant with the revised nutritional guidelines.

Planning is underway to support Snack n Play during the summer period within six Primary schools and this consists of Janitorial, Cleaning and Catering support.

Assets & Estates

Bearsden Early Years Centre is now complete and is the last of the three new-build Early Years Centres which are now being prepared for their official opening by colleagues in Education.  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 with site start anticipated over Summer 2021.

Design and cost development for the ASN project remains on-going and a Stage 2 Report for the project is due for consideration by Council in 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.  Work remains in progress at Lenzie Academy (3G Pitch Installation) and Hilton Depot (Drying Room / Canteen Refurb).  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 external rendering of properties in Waterside, window replacement and electrical rewire to void properties.  Preparations are underway to re-commence kitchens and bathroom installations later in 2021 with colleagues in Property Maintenance when safe and appropriate to do so, roof replacement to mixed tenure properties and external wall insulation. 

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 (anticipated completion Feb 2023) and Blackthorn Grove, Lenzie (anticipated completion December 2021).

The revised Strategic Housing Investment Plan (2021-26) and the Affordable Housing Investment Programme (2021-26) were both approved by Council at the budget meeting in February and various work streams continue to deliver against these strategic priorities for the service.

Preparations are now underway for the next phase of the Council's Affordable Housing Investment Programme.

HOUSING

Homelessness & Prevention

As part of COVID19 recovery plans, the Homelessness & Prevention Team has returned to the office on a rota basis. Homelessness interviews will continue to be delivered via the telephone and/or video link for the time being.  As restrictions are relaxed, face to face interviews will be considered as part of wider recovery plans. 

Since the start of  the financial year, 26 households have made a homelessness interview.  Demand for temporary accommodation remains low.   There are  no homelessness applicants in bed B&B at this time, while since the start of the financial year only one household (with children) has been accommodated in B&B.  The Council has not breached the Unsuitable Accommodation Order last year or this year so far. The Out of hours service is quieter than last year which was very busy; with only 13 calls having been received this financial year.

Support for households to move to the private sector continues, 3 households have been assisted to move to settled accommodation in the last few weeks, reducing pressures on temporary accommodation and the homelessness list. Mediation training will commence this week for the Team's Project Workers (Project 101).  The training will be delivered online over the next month or so.  Once training is completed,  the Project Workers will work alongside other team members and/or key partners to enhance the Council's approaches to prevent youth homelessness.

Housing Operations (Estates)

The Housing Operations Team continues to work closely with Property Maintenance to minimise the void turnaround period.  There are presently 27 properties with the void team undergoing repairs.  Since the start of this financial year a total of 44 new tenancies have been created and terminations have been received for another 22 properties which are due to become available for allocation within the next 28 days.  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. Link Housing Association has this year released a total of 44 properties for allocation at the new build site at Broomhill, Kirkintillloch, all of which will be allocated from the Council's housing lists.

The team continues to work jointly with Legal Services, Police Scotland and the Community Safety Team to deal with anti-social behaviour and noise complaints of a more serious nature within each of the housing localities.

Rents

The Rents Team continue to engage with tenants to ensure rental income is being maximised. Advice and support is being offered to tenants whose circumstances have changed as a result of pandemic or they are struggling to pay their rent.  There continue 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 as the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act regulations has banned evictions and this is now being reviewed every 21 days by the Scottish Government.  The rents team continue to support and assist as many tenants as they can with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also referring to CAB, where required, ensuring income is maximised where possible. The recent arrears figure was £1,205,365 (week 6).

Tenant Participation

The next online TPWG meeting will be held on Thursday 10 June 2021.

Systems and Policy

This Team is still working through year end returns - the ARC is due for submission at the end of May and each indicator is being checked to ensure that the service returns are on target for this date.

Team is working through pentana to ensure all statistics are up to date for year end to allow the service to complete HGIOS on time. The Local Housing Strategy (LHS) is also due for review this year and the team is working with procurement to put in place a mini competition to bring in additional external support.

A new Policy Officer, Fiona Robertson, started this week and she will be working closely with Claire McNeil to take forward policy and performance related work within the team. The Systems Development Officer post has been advertised and interviews will take place soon.

LAND PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT

Planning Applications and Building Standards

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

Monthly updates are now to be provided to the Scottish Government Building Standards Division to help monitor performance of Building Standards at a national level.

Both the Planning Applications and Building Standards teams continues to receive the number of applications expected by this point in the financial year. 

Scottish Government have written to the Planning service confirming that they require extra time to consider whether or not to call in the planning application for the Additional Support Needs School at Waterside Road in Kirkintilloch. We therefore can not grant planning permission for the development before the 16 June 2021.  The letter states that this date could be extended and we may be required to refer to Scottish Ministers for them to make a decision.

Officers are currently preparing for the forthcoming Planning Board meeting on the 25th May with an Enhanced Members briefing session taking place via Teams call on the 20th May.

Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS

The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council and consultation took place between October 2020 and 15 January 2021.  Over 2000 representations were received and acknowledged and officers have analysed and drafted the Council’s response.  A Local Development Plan Working Party was held on 28 April 2021 to provide detailed updates and a report has been submitted to PNCA Committee for approval prior to submission of the Proposed Plan and representations to Scottish Ministers. Officers are also working on planning guidance, the historic environment designations review, which is currently being consulted on following a LDP Working Party, and site specific projects such as Kirkintilloch Gateway.

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

A Draft Parking Management Plan has been produced by officers and was discussed at the Transport Working Groupon 22 April 2021. A report has been submitted to PNCA Committee for approval prior to consultation on the Draft Plan taking 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 now under way.  The first stage of this is an early engagement exercise - the ‘Climate Conversation’.  This invites people across our communities to join online events to discuss their concerns about climate change, how it is already affecting them, and the action they think the Council needs to take to respond to the climate challenge.  A number of surveys are available online, tailored to communities and individuals; businesses; young people; and Council staff, to gather views on how the CAP should address climate change and inform its development.  The Climate Conversation webpages went live on 8th March and the consultation will close on 2nd May.  The main webpage can be found at www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/CAP.

Consultation on the draft Glasgow City Region Climate Adaptation Strategy, prepared by Climate Ready Clyde in partnership with East Dunbartonshire Council and other partners, closed on December 24th.  The Strategy is now being finalised and an Action Plan prepared.  This will be presented to Glasgow City Region Cabinet for agreement in June, and will also be reported to a future PNCA Committee or Council meeting for endorsement. 

Work is commencing on a new Greenspace Strategy for the Council, to replace the existing Open Space and Green Network Strategies and will be prepared in the context of the Glasgow City Region Green Network Blueprint.  An audit of our open spaces has been completed and early engagement to inform the development of the draft Strategy is scheduled to take place in June.  A report on the Greenspace Strategy will be presented to PNCA Committee in May.

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

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

City Deal

The City Deal core team is now fully resourced with 3 dedicated Officers and a Team Leader.  Additional resource across the Council is being put in place to progress the projects.  Officers continue to engage with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC and First Bus. 

Work on the outline business case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but progress is being made in relation to: programming of the individual projects and work relating to the OBC and work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval).  Consultants have been appointed to undertake work on the Bishopbriggs Public Realm Plan and have now completed initial desktop research and site visits.  Stage 2 of their programme includes agreement on initial engagement arrangements.  More details will be provided to members in due course.   

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 The design for phase 2 of the Milngavie Public Realm project has been completed so now Milngavie BID with support from the team have procured their contractor to undertake the improvements which are expected to take place during the summer.

The team have secured £1.1m of Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the Twechar Canalside project and the budget has just received a further boost with the team successfully applying for £100,000 from Sports Scotland. The Regent Gardens project is being progressed, working closely with the local community council preparing draft designs for consultation which will run from late May into June.

Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required and an update will be presented to an upcoming PNCA Committee. RTC, Land Planning Policy and landowners have recently started working together to create a masterplan for the Kirkintilloch Business Gateway site in step with the LDP2 process. The aim is to create a coherent deliverable vision for the area which will encourage development in line with Council policies and strategies.  Unfortunately the Kirkintilloch Canal Festival has been cancelled for another year but the team are looking into the possibility of smaller-scale events in local communities - if and when they are permissible under safety guidance.

Business Support

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

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

Discretionary Grant up top-ups of £2,000 have been approved and these will go out to the 300+ successful applicants next week

The team over the last 12 months have now administered over £25m in financial support.

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

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

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

Traffic and Transport

The team has been successful in external funding bids from Transport Scotland, SPT and Paths for All, with over £1.5m of funding confirmed for 2021/22. We await confirmation of other funds up to an additional £0.6m.

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

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

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

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

The team continue to work on the A803 Signal Optimisation Project funded by the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund (BPRDF).

NEIGHBOURHOOD SERVICES

WASTE SERVICES

Household Collection

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

Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection

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

Green Waste Collection

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

Bulky Collections (Special Uplifts)

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

Bin Deliveries

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

Mavis Valley Recycling Centre

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

Booking system Development

Officers from the waste service are currently working with the Business Change Team to develop and procure a new booking system for the Household Waste Recycling Centre. The new booking system, once in place would allow the service to control the number of vehicles on site at any given time and remove the need for traffic management at the entrance to the main Balmuildy Road entrance. 

Recruitment of Full time and Temporary posts

The Waste Team has completed the  recruitment process for all full time and Temporary vacancies for the service. The new staff and recently promoted Squad Leaders have undergone training over the past fortnight, in order to fill gaps within the wider workforce. The additional resource will be essential to continue full service delivery as we move into the busy summer holiday period. 

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 is progressing through procurement for tenders and orders for new vehicles due for delivery in through 2021/2022 financial year.  The team continue to progress the de-fleet and disposal of outgoing fleet assets in line with the replacement programme.

Fleet Maintenance

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

Transport Operations

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

PLACE & COMMUNITY PLANNING

Environmental Health Team

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

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

Despite the increase in cases the area moved to Level 2 of the tiered strategy within The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations on Monday 17 May 2021 This means that hospitality premises can now sell both food and drink indoors, that travel restrictions will be further relaxed and that small groups of people can meet indoors.  Environmental Health will be at hand to respond to increasing enquiries and engage with hospitality businesses. Programmes of visits to monitor compliance and mitigation measures will 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 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 teams Environmental Protection Officer is currently sitting his professional exams with the aim to obtain the qualification necessary to work as an Environmental Health Officer.

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

On 5 April 2021 the reopening of a number of retail businesses was permitted, including barbers and hairdressers premises (by appointment at a specific time), garden centres, showrooms, homeware, baby equipment, electrical repair, key cutting and mobility product shops. All other businesses were allowed to operate a click and collect service. The re-opening of hairdressers and barbers caused a number of compliance issues at premises. As well as having to deal with the resultant enforcement issues, the team also had to respond to a number of business advice requests and complaints.

From 26 April 2021 all other retail premises and mobile services re-opened, working in people’s homes was able to resume, and gyms and swimming pools could reopen for individual exercise. Driving lessons and tests resumed and libraries, museums and galleries were all able to re-open. With the reopening of most retail and leisure, there was a significant increase in workload for the team. Further business advice on the requirements for hairdressers and beauticians was also issued to the close contact services sector.

With effect from 17 May 2021 East Dunbartonshire has now moved into Level 2 restrictions. This allows the following premises to reopen – cinemas, bingo halls, amusement arcades, theatres, comedy clubs and casinos, as well as snooker/pool halls and bowling alleys. In relation to sport and exercise, outdoor adult contact sport and organised activities for adults outdoor is now permitted. Indoor group exercise is now also permitted. Soft play centres and funfairs, along with nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques must still remain closed.

Trading Standards Officers continue to provide individually tailored advice and guidance to all non-food businesses on the emergency health protection Covid-19 Regulations and Scottish Government guidance. Since the restrictions came into place the Trading Standards team have dealt with over 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.

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. The current situation presents additional challenges when mediating between businesses and consumers to satisfactorily resolve complaints.

The Team's Licensing Adviser continues to deal with routine licensing consultations, complaints and enquiries. A large number of occasional licence applications have also recently been handled in light of the reopening of the hospitality sector on 26 April.

Community Safety Team

The Community Safety Team continues to undertake a broad range of work for the benefit of our local communities, with all service delivery activity meeting the requirements of the latest Covid-19 restrictions that are currently in place across East Dunbartonshire.

Investigation of instances of fly-tipping continue to feature heavily and officers have been working closely with colleagues in Police Scotland to take robust enforcement action in relation to a number of offences. Deployment of additional mobile CCTV should now be feasible in the coming weeks in order to assist with offence detection and support the valuable enforcement work being carried out by the Community Safety Officers in relation to fly-tipping issues.

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

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

The introduction of a new cashless payment solution within the Council’s nine off-street charging car parks is also imminent, meaning that motorists will soon 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 is scheduled to go-live on Monday 24 May 2021.  It is envisaged that the new service will be warmly welcomed by motorists and businesses alike - as well as making parking both easier and faster, the ability to pay via smartphone will also help to encourage physical distancing and mean that fewer people need to queue at parking machines.  

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

The team continues to provide a remote service 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.

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 then the team are underway in a process to review the Place Plans in line with statutory guidance and to reflect changed circumstances as a result of the pandemic.

In line with revised guidance for CLD planning in 2020 and further to the requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013, Council Officers are developing a plan for Community Leaning and Development for 2021-24.  The Community Learning and Development Partnership is meeting (online) and the group is collating data on evidence of need in order to formulate themes for the next three-year plan. Emerging priorities include combatting isolation, developing green spaces and financial / digital inclusion for priority groups. 

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

In line with statutory guidance, officers are working on the update to the Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report for 2021-2025.  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 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

Streetscene Operations:

  • Street cleansing operations continue
  • Cyclical grass cutting of open spaces, schools, housing estates, leisure trust and estates properties
  • Clearing of Fly tipping
  • Mechanical street sweeping
  • Clear excess rubbish at bring sites
  • Removal of round bins and installation of new bins at Cowgate and other sites
  • Completion of contractor road street sweeping in Kirkintilloch areas and continuing with other sites
  • Removal of litter from Burn clearances/checking and clearing of culvert grills.
  • Over marking of Football pitches and School Athletic tracks
  • Play area inspections and repairs
  • Responding to CRM issues that arise
  • Graffiti removal
  • Assisting cemeteries when necessary
  • Health screening - operatives attending medical assessments - Medigold bus attended Langfaulds
  • Ongoing cemetery operations including grass cutting & herbicide application within the cemeteries.
  • Contractor organised to clear cemetery spoil bays at Langfaulds.

Streetscene Technical Support:

  • Afton View play area upgrade completed
  • Replacement equipment (basket swing and multi-play unit) being installed at Mains Park play area
  • Cairnhill Woods path upgrades project developed, start date 19th May for 2 weeks
  • Kilmardinny House wedding venue works ongoing – bedding areas and lighting
  • Wet pour play area safety surfacing repairs ongoing
  • Preparation of Drainage works at Cadder cemetery to begin week of 24th May
  • Contractor appointed for repair of Campsie Cemetery Wall, works to start end of May.
  •  Bishopbriggs and Westerton open space and play area consultation still live until 28th May – https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/bishopbriggs-and-bearsden-parks-consultation
  • Team continues to deal with large volume of open space and tree enquiries as well as correspondence and site meetings with community groups

Mugdock Country Park:

  • Visitor Centre is open but people are reluctant to come indoors so footfall, and sales, are lower than usual;
  • The bbq sites are being booked up as they provide an outdoor space.  National guidance is being followed regarding numbers permitted;
  • Planting of native trees continuing across the Park;
  • Mugdock Trust progressing VR project at Mugdock Castle;
  • Cafe and Tearoom now opening indoors with reduced seating capacity;
  • Schools booking end of term visits

Roads Technical and Engineering Team

Structures

Allander Bridge No.1 Glasgow Road Milngavie. Glasgow Road closed on 12 February following inspection by structures staff. Construction of retaining wall to support Auchenhowie Road, and Scottish water apparatus progressing, as well as further repairs to bridge.

Continuing with Principal and General Inspections,
Emergency repair to expansion joint on Oxgang Bridge, Waterside Road, Kirkintilloch completed
Minor emergency repairs to three footbridges completed

Drainage and Flood Prevention

CCTV contract has been awarded to Ipsum who are currently carrying out inspections.
Providing technical support for other civil engineering works e.g. carried out drainage investigation on Canniesburn Toll in preparation for the redesign
Investigating upgrading gullies on Glasgow/Auchenhowie road while it is under temporary traffic management
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.
Golf View Flood Alleviation Scheme - Landscaping and preparation is on going and completion is expected by the end of May 2021.
Bencloich Road, Lennoxtown. Additional culvert works should be complete by May 2021. Landscaping will follow.

Development

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.
Working with developers to reduce snagging and allow the Twechar site to go into maintenance prior to adoption.
Working with developers at a site at Back O' Loch Road , Kirkintilloch that commenced in 2009 but has still not been adopted due to snagging issues. 
Demolition of Lairdsland Primary School at Kerr St, Kirkintilloch is in progress. Officers are looking for a time Capsule in the foundations from the early 1900s.

Traffic

Assisting with the design and implementation of the first average speed camera system within East Dunbartonshire. System is currently being installed on Auchinairn Road and should go live over the next few weeks.
Ongoing procurement of a traffic survey contract to continue the monitoring of traffic volumes/speed on EDC
roads.
Ongoing procurement of a new system to host, interrogate and report on road crash data within EDC.
Ongoing procurement of a road markings contract to assist the in house facility.
Regular liaison with Police Scotland Traffic Management department.
Continuing with identifying and refurbishment of lining/signing on the road network 
Continuing to respond to Legal Services on licensing applications and processing dropped kerb and disabled bay applications.
Providing observations to Planning on applications.

Roads Operations

In line with current restrictions the Roads Network Team will continue, on a rota basis, to carry out essential road safety repairs where social distancing can be maintained. The Operations Team resources have been prioritised to the repair of road defects reported over the last few weeks to ensure the safe use of the network 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
Marshalling at the various Vaccination Centres
24 hour emergency response to Network issues
Footway/Verge maintenance along Duntocher Road and Balmore Road to provide additional space for walkers
Structural Patching Kirkintilloch Road, Lenzie
Townhead Area, Carriageway Resurfacing
Maxwell Avenue Traffic Calming and Structural Patching Works

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
24 hour response to electrical defects on the lighting network

EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 21 May 2021

EDUCATION

Schools and early years centres are continuing to focus on supporting children and young people in both learning and health and well being as part of the recovery from the Covid pandemic and lockdown.   There have been a number of positive Covid cases and Education have worked with Environmental Health to carry out contact tracing. 

Secondary schools are under considerable pressure due to the requirements of the Alternative Certification Model which replaces the examinations for the National Qualifications.  Teachers are working to gather assessment to build on the evidence that schools already have of pupils’ demonstrated attainment.  There are clear requirements by the SQA and schools and the local authority require to have a robust moderation and quality assurance processes.  All schools have put an assessment calendar in place as the assessments have to be done under controlled conditions.  Considerable support is being provided by the Quality Improvement Team to schools both in regard to quality assurance and moderation and managing workload.  As part of the national review by HMI, inspectors reviewed the implementation within the Council and praised the clear strategic approach that had been taking working in partnership with parents, the Teacher Trade Unions and senior staff in schools.  It is recognised that this is a stressful time for pupils and support is being provided by the school.

The Early Years’ Team continue to work towards the implementation of the expansion of early learning and childcare.  The new centres, Oakburn and Lairdsland, have opened for children.  The centre at Bearsden has been handed over to the Council.  Some issues related to health and safety require to be addressed and the learning areas set up.  It will open for children in August 2021 when the full roll out of the expansion of early learning and childcare will take place.  This will ensure transition arrangements are in place for children who are currently in other centres.

The Education Service is carrying out an extensive self-evaluation exercise to inform recovery planning both in schools and within the local authority.  Schools and early years centres will be supported, through Learning Partnership Groups, to evaluate the impact on children’s wellbeing and attainment.    Across the authority a review of provision for care experienced children, mental health, additional support needs, nurture and parenting and family learning is taking place.  This will inform strategic planning and ensure focused deployment of the additional resources provided to support recovery.

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

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 and other needs across services such as Education, Housing, Business & Digital Change Projects, and Roads. Renewal and award of various contracts continue with various key ICT system requirements being progressed at this time.

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

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

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

The team continues to process Free School Meal Payments for the period of School closures and are supporting ongoing applications in line with Scottish Government Guidance.  Work is progressing on planning for payment arrangements over the school summer holidays. Financial tracking of costs for Free School Meals, Hardship and Isolation Payments is ongoing, and associated Grant claims to Scottish Government are being monitored.

Health & Safety

The Health and Safety team continues to prioritise areas for support based on identified requirements and prioritisation across all Council, EDLCT and HSCP services.

Support and advice continues to be provided to:

Education with updated COVID-19 guidelines for level 3, updating and reviewing measures in place as well as outbreak case management alongside Environmental Health and Education officers.

various services such Legal and Democratic services in the run up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, its arrangements, risk assessments and supporting procurement in the selection of items required for safe elections.

Waste and Roads to address H&S requirements for upcoming operations.

develop and carry out Covid-19 training for all services and specific training for Roads, Property Maintenance and HSCP.

HSCP Adult services in the preparations for re-start of services.

the Asymptomatic Testing Site with participation in ‘train the trainer’ programme with the British Army to support ongoing delivery and future requirements. 

Health and Safety team continues to develop and carry out training for duty holders. Fire safety training and Toolbox talks coverage and scope continues to grow as training needs are recognised throughout services.

The Team continues to engage with our Health Surveillance providers and the management of the health surveillance records. It continues to support on site clinics. Review of vibration work equipment is being organised with tool tags for all vibration tools across services. Individual vibration risk assessments are being progressed with the review of HAVS REACTEC system to improve recording.

The team has attended sites to support Assets & Estates and contractors relating to statutory Health & Safety requirements and has continued to carry out Fire risk assessments of all operational and non-operational buildings.

Health and Safety inbox queries, accident and incident recording and RIDDOR, investigations, task based and DSE risk assessments continue to support all services throughout the council. The team continues to work alongside HR with Individual Risk Assessments and support at meetings to assist in the return to work of staff in vulnerable categories.

Social Work Commissioning Team

Planning & Development team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations to ensure services continue, resume safely, remain flexible and responsive to changing needs and are sustainable in the longer term.  

The team has an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Adult Services Oversight Group which meets daily.   The group has responsibility for providing assurance across key service areas including care homes, care at home, supported living and day care.  Planning & Development responsibilities includes monitoring (daily analysis/reporting, service & financial monitoring, compliance, risk management) and supporting providers/market management/facilitation.  Monitoring the impact of C-19 vaccination and weekly testing across care homes, community based services and the recently introduced testing across non-registered services remains a priority for Planning & Development.

Planning & Development continues to support the closure of Campsie Neuro care home and is liaising with providers and commissioners to identify suitable alternative placements for local residents who require 24hr support with accommodation. 

Planning & Development monitors providers Business Continuity Plans and intervenes if/where required to help mitigate service continuity risks.  Provider’s business continuity plans are reviewed and updated regularly, and aligned to the HSCP’s overarching Business Continuity Plan.  The HSCP’s Local Resilience Management Team (LRMT) meets fortnightly to review resilience planning, surveillance and reporting across all HSCP / commissioned services

Assurance visits to care homes are now complete with very few recommendations and/or compliance issues arising.  Any issues that were highlighted have been progressed with individual care homes. 

Planning & Development continues to support Social Care Sustainability Payments & Care Home Occupancy payments for providers who, as a direct result of Covid-19, have incurred additional costs relating to infection control, PPE and/or losses due to reduced occupancy. The HSCP and Council convened a Governance Panel last week to consider and approve the latest round of claims that will captured within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan.  Sustainability payments have been extended to 30th June 2021, subject to the Scottish Government’s & Cosla’s review and update Scotland Excel’s National Flexible Framework for care and support services is now live and Planning & Development is liaising with providers to support the mobilisation of services and to help address any outstanding issues or concerns. Going forward, the team will monitor the performance and compliance of providers on the framework.

Planning & Development is currently implementing the Scottish Living Wage across care sectors.  The Scottish Government recently announced an uplift of 2.2% across the market with the exception of older people care homes which has been awarded 7.5% in recognition of the increasing cost of providing care - particularly for people with dementia and underpinning requirement to pay all care staff a minimum of £9.50 per hour.

Human Resources & Organisational Development

Following announcement by the Scottish Government (SG) that all Health and Social Care workers will receive a ‘£500 Thank You’, the HR&OD team have been working through the guidance in the context of the HSCP. Trades Union engagement, communications and leadership updates have been completed, with payments being processed in the May payroll for eligible employees. 

Trades Unions engagement continues on a weekly basis and has been focused on strategic issues such as election planning, 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.

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

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

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

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

Key statutory training is being scoped out and delivered and work has commenced in relation to reviewing the Council’s e-learning platform. Moving and Handling (M&H) training is a key requirement within HSCP. A number of employees from across HSCP, Health and Safety, and People Development are participating in a ‘train the trainer’ programme for M&H. This will allow for broadening delivery capacity.

Business & Digital Change Team

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

Phase 2 of our Smart Working M365 project is ongoing. We have engaged a Microsoft Gold Partner to support the Council in developing our Smart Working capability. As previously highlighted, this phase of the project will focus on our business and technical readiness and will be concluded by June 2021.  

New eforms are continually being developed to meet demand.  The latest addition is a Council Tax Discount/Exemption form which is due to go live over the next week.   

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

The Business Systems team has completed the first phase of Elections software upgrades enabling the postal voting approval process to begin this week. End of year reporting has also been completed enabling services to submit performance stats for external auditors. The team also continue to support ongoing Transformation projects and ensure Business Systems remain available and promptly respond to system incidents. 

LEGAL & DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

Democratic Services

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

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

The Team continues to lead in planning and oversight of the Council’s involvement for both mass vaccinations and community testing within East Dunbartonshire.  Members will recall that both centres (Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre and Allander Leisure Centre were structured to allow both the hours of operation and number of vaccinators to be scaled up as required.  Activity varies from week to week depending on vaccine supply but will pick up over coming weeks due to concerns around the latest variant and the shortening of the period between first and second doses.  Information will shortly be available detailing the take up of the vaccine broken down to HSCP levels and this will be shared with Members once available.  What is known just now is that women are more likely to be vaccinated than men and that differential is increasing as the programme moves on to younger cohorts.    Discussions with colleagues in NHS GG&C and other local authorities continue to take place in order that centres are able to provide vaccinations as planned and the EDLCT workforce continues to provide excellent support to the clinical operation, in a manner which is flexible and responds to the ever changing supply chain.  Feedback from attendees continues to be positive and colleagues in the Leisure Trust are managing the throughput of vaccines efficiently and without any significant queues or delays.  The latest roadmap for easing restrictions is such that work has been undertaken develop dual operation arrangements and so some leisure services are set to recommence in tandem with the centres continuing to operate as vaccination clinics.  These arrangements have been the subject of rigorous risk assessments.  In addition, discussions are now starting to focus on post October and a booster programme.  Members will be updated once more information is available. 

Similarly, the Team is leading on planning for community asymptomatic testing across East Dunbartonshire.  This is where the Council is required to set up a testing facility in communities where there is a significant spike in infection rates and/or where there are persistently higher than average rates.  These centres will be used to test those who are asymptomatic and are intended to identify where individuals have COVID-19 in order that they can quickly self-isolate and contact tracing can be triggered.  Members will be aware that an ATS has been established at the Auchinairn Early Years & Community Centre.  This site has seen a reasonable footfall to date.  The MACA, which resulted in military support, has now ended and we are being assisted by colleagues from NHS GG&C in staffing the centre at present.  Planning for the medium to longer term is in hand and Members will be updated once this is developed further.  It is intended to relocate the fixed ATS to the War Memorial Hall – detailed planning is under way and it is anticipated that the operation at Auchinairn will cease on Friday 4th June, making the facility available for community use.  The War Memorial Hall ATS will formally open on 7th June, however there may be a soft opening in the days before that. A detailed Technical Note will be issued to Members in advance of this.  Officers are also developing plans for both a mobile and portable solution which will enable greater access and a speedy response in the event of an outbreak or concerns around transmission rates in any part of East Dunbartonshire.  A bus has been adapted by colleagues in Fleet and will be fitted out as a single booth testing facility.  In addition to supporting testing linked to community outreach activities, it is envisaged that the bus will regularly visit town centres across the authority to encourage regular testing.  Again a more detailed Technical Note will be issued in advance of the launch.  As before, the Team is well supported by colleagues in Corporate Comms and continues to liaise with colleagues in Community Planning & Place to engage with local community groups and also colleagues in Education with a view to encouraging testing via the various local schools. 

In the last few week, the team has been engaging with Scottish Government in relation to the identification of sites for walk in symptomatic testing in East Dunbartonshire.  Members will be aware that a symptomatic test site is now operational at Milngavie Station Car Park.  This is a UKG operation and so officers do not currently have details of uptake but this has been requested. 

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

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

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

Between 23 April & 20 May - 74 Births, 102 deaths were registered.  8 wedding ceremonies were conducted with several more being re-arranged due to changing Scottish Government Covid guidelines.  Enquiries and bookings for weddings and civil partnerships over the summer months are increasing.  From June the Registrar will conduct Mixed Sex Civil Partnership Ceremonies in accordance with the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020.

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

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

Following months of preparations, the team led the successful and safe delivery of the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election ensuring that the constituents of East Dunbartonshire contributed to the election of 2 Constituency MSPs and 7 West Scotland List MSPs.  Public interest in electoral events remains high in East Dunbartonshire, with approximately 90% of Postal Votes returned (Approx 13k each of Constituency & Regional List papers).  Furthermore Strathkelvin & Bearsden had the second highest percentage turnout (72%) in Scotland and fourth highest by volume of votes cast per constituency.  Feedback on the election has been positive in terms of the efficiency of the process and importantly in relation to the various measures put in place to ensure that voters, candidates and their teams, press, observers, and those working at the election felt safe.

Initial planning has begun for the 2022 Local Government Elections scheduled for 5 May 2022.

The team are now in the midst of work supporting the last cycle of Council and Committee meetings prior to the summer recess and planning is underway for the 2021/2022 term Placing Request Appeals with hearings scheduled for 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18 June (subject to the volume of PR Appeals received)

Information Management

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

SMT Support & Members Support Teams

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

Legal Services

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

In tandem with this, the team is also guiding the Housing Service in respect of delivery of its many capital projects and in the recommencement of open market purchases and shared equity buy-backs to increase the provision of affordable housing within East Dunbartonshire. 

The team is also heavily involved in the contracts required for the City Region City Deal project with the recruitment of a team to support this well underway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition to the above, the Team is now turning attention to this year’s placing requests.    Members will be aware that the Council normally receives a significant number of placing request appeals which result in several weeks of Appeal Hearings.  This is time consuming and labour-intensive for both the Litigation & Licensing Team and also the Democratic Team  Accordingly, the Team, along with colleagues in Democratic Services are liaising with Education to agree a time line and process for dealing with these appeals.

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

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

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

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

CUSTOMER & BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES

Corporate Performance & Research

A key focus is finalising the year end performance reporting for 2020/21 across all Executive Officer portfolios, the HSCP and EDLC Trust for consideration at the scheduled June Council meeting.  Work is also progressing on the review of corporate performance, expanding and developing the corporate performance aspirations highlighted in the strategic review of strategic planning and performance previously considered by Council. The detailed analysis of the LGBF report, including the now complete childrens’ services data, is also being finalised.

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

The insurance renewal process is also concluding in advance of the new policies being in place for the start of next month.

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, including FACTS to avoid increases in infection and potentially returning to more stringent protection levels.

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 new page for the publication of Technical Notes on the Council website, introduced in early April, has seen a further 29 Technical Notes published in the last four week period.

Delivery of the Scottish Parliamentary Election communication plan was a key priority over the last four weeks, including the preparation of signage for polling places and the count venue and managing media attendance at the count and publishing the results to the Council website and social media channels in real time given the limited capacity for media attendance.
The Employee Zone, which can be accessed by all Council employees whether they are office-based or on the frontline, continues to be regularly updated with key information, including Health and Safety updates and Wellbeing support.  The May programme of Healthy Working Lives initiatives has been published to this section, and key campaigns for May shared with employees and wider where applicable through social media channels.

Communications support for community asymptomatic testing centre in Auchinairn continues.  In addition to the dedicated community testing webpage with a ‘what to expect’ video, messaging through social media channels continues to encourage those who live, work, visit or go to school in the wider Bishopbriggs area to attend for testing to identify any asymptomatic cases, support their self-isolation and break community infection spikes.

A busy four week period for media management has seen a total of 29 media enquiries, all responded to by deadline and 18 media releases have been issued resulting in predominantly positive coverage online and print media for the Council. Media releases over the past four weeks, in addition to those around the Scottish Parliamentary Election on 6 May, have included: the publication of the Council’s Economic Recovery Plan, the opening of our new Oakburn Early Years Centre in Milngavie and Lairdsland Early Years Centre in Kirkintilloch, the completion of the new Boclair Academy steel framework in Bearsden and the commemoration of International Workers Memorial Day 2021. All 29 media releases are available in the News Section of the Council website.

Consultation and engagement activity over the four weeks has included the creation of consultation web pages and the promotion of the Canniesburn Toll improvements, the Active Travel Plan consultation, a Play Park consultation for Bishopbriggs and Bearsden and the ongoing Historic Environment Designations Review.  All current consultations can be found on the Consultation Page of the Council website.

Social Media messaging remains a key focus and effective channel for engaging with East Dunbartonshire communities with a total of 511 posts over the past four weeks (266 posts on Facebook (52.3%) and 244 posts on Twitter (47.7%).  Twitter currently has 18,875 followers and a total reach of 4.98 million in the last four weeks with the Active Travel consultation having the highest reach of 37,500.  Scottish Parliamentary Election related posts also showed wide reaches and the Milngavie BID Business Walking Champion post also attained a high Twitter reach..

Top Twitter Posts for reach:

Top twitter posts

On Facebook, the 211 posts reached 1.11 million people and there has been a slight increase in Facebook fans to 17,880.  The highest reaching post was in relation to play park consultations in Bearsden and Bishopbriggs.  Posts about the new Early Years centres at Oakburn in Milngavie and Lairdsland in Kirkintilloch and the campaign to encourage residents to clean up after their dogs, all scored highly in terms of interactions with the posts.

Top Facebook Posts for interactions:

Top facebook interactions

The Graphic Design service has created a number of engaging videos over the past four weeks, to support polling and the opening of the fabulous new Early Learning Centres, in addition to high volumes of digital posters and publications.  Campaigns in the current period have included cleaning up after dogs and the recruitment of new foster carers.          

New build New early years centre Child holding hands of two adults Child sitting on ground with poo in front of him round about

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. 

Call volumes also reflect national announcements and local service changes, and resources are allocated as available to address peak periods.  Calls in relation to vaccination are being signposted to the national helpline, NHS Inform and the dedicated Council webpage with details on transport and travel to centres.  Customer service resources continue to be deployed flexibly across the channels with greatest demand and call waiting times are continually monitored. 

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

Shared Services

The school support co-ordinators continue to support the primary, nursery and education units including covering office staff absence.   They are engaging with the Business Change Team to devise interim processes due to the retirement of the SEEMIS Finance module.  Homecare and Residential Teams are uplifting rates following the introduction of a new framework for care providers.  They continue to process paperwork for all services for the more vulnerable people within EDC to ensure providers receive their payments at these new rates.  The Transport Team are collating paperwork for Round 2 of the ASN tendering process.   Round 1 has now been analysed and returned to Procurement who will liaise with Legal prior to awarding the contracts.  The team are liaising with SPT for the mainstream transport contracts that are required from August.  The EMA Team continue to process the final payments for this school session in preparation for the Scottish Government announcing the EMA criteria for the next school session in August. 

The Early Years team, in conjunction with the Business Change Team, continue the preparations for the new SEEMS Early Years system.  The Education Team issued all placing requests outcomes by 5 May in line with statutory requirements.  The team are now working on the preparatory work for the Appeals process.

The General Team continues to support the Test & Protect Service through the National Assistance Helpline while providing assistance to the Scottish Welfare Fund team. 

The Letting Team continue to bring community lets back online and have started the annual letting process for year 21/22 subject to the Scottish Government Covid restrictions.  The team are reviewing the Blue Badge applications process changes due to introduction of new Scottish benefits systems.

The Social Work Team continues to process all referrals for social work, including Homecare and Child Protection. New admin processes have been successfully implemented as part of the SCRA system and the new DAISy system within ADRS has now been successfully rolled out.

Revenues and Benefits

The Scottish Welfare Fund continue to place extremely high demand on services we deliver.  The team are anticipating a significant increase in the numbers of applications for the self-isolation support grants due to a change in the criteria. Community care grants continue to increase but the team are progressing decisions on these cases within the required timeframe. Crisis grants appear to have stabilised although this is now at a 30% higher level each week than pre pandemic.

Non Domestic rates has higher than normal levels of workload and additional resource is allocated to this area.  The team will publish the Non Domestic Rates Relief cases by 1 July 2021 as required by Scottish Government.

The Benefits Team are still seeing high levels of applications, particularly for Council Tax Reduction, however, we continue meeting our performance objectives in this area. The Housing Benefit Accuracy Initiative is now live for our area and we will be reviewing cases in line with requirements for the Department of Work and Pensions.

The Council Tax Team are working through the high workload on a date priority order.   Recovery timetables are now back to normal schedule with summary warrants before the Sheriff Courts for signing.  We anticipate the warrants will be issued next week.

We are currently preparing a plan and timetable to process the Low Income Pandemic Payments in line with the Scottish Government guidance.  The team continue to work with our colleagues in Business Gateway on all the numerous Scottish Government grants to support businesses during the current period. 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 have completed all requests for laptop and chromebook devices for pupils issuing 407 laptops, 1244 Chromebooks, 516 ipads and 272 Mifi devices. 

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

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

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

FINANCE & AUDIT

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

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

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

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

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

Technical Accounting

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

The team continue to provide support the discharging of 5,730 grants to businesses totalling £26.535 million and reclaiming that from the Scottish Government. Current VAT issues including adapting the Council's VAT return to meet HMRC's requirements under Making Tax Digital and the construction reverse charge have been implemented.  The scale and timing of developments in these areas ensure that the work of the team to support other teams in the Council continues at pace.

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

Revenue Team

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

The team has finalised and submitted the POBE (provisional outturn against budget estimates) return and are now fielding government queries many of which relate to the impact of Covid-19.  Under normal circumstances this would provide for a reasonable approximation of the year end position however with expenditure based on Period 10 and the subsequent variation immediately before the year-end this remains a work in progress.  In this respect the team continues working towards on the financial year end report, including that for Mugdock, as well as finalising the Election costs and return.

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

Treasury, Capital & Housing

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

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

Internal Audit and Fraud

Internal Audit have continued to work on planned audits including VAT, Social Work Charging, Corporate Health and Safety, Buildings Regulatory Compliance, the Highways Code, and School Funds (Education).  The VAT audit has been finalised and a low risk action agreed with management relating to updating procedures. Full details of recently completed internal audit work will be provided at the Council meeting in June.

The appeals Service for the Strategic Framework Business Fund is nearing completion and has involved reviewing appeals from some businesses whose applications for the Strategic Framework Business Fund were rejected. The majority of these appeals are from businesses that are affected directly or indirectly by the current restrictions. However, as their business types were not listed in legislation as being required to close under Tier 4 or as a hospitality business to modify their services under Tier 3 through early closure or by ceasing to serve alcohol they were not entitled to this grant. The Council had no discretion regarding the eligibility criteria and was required to apply the Scottish Government's guidance in this regard.  Of the 48 appeals received for this fund, the rejection has been upheld for 45, whilst three were passed back to the Business Support Team for further assessment. The Internal Audit Team has also commenced providing an appeals process for Discretionary Grants. 29 appeals have been received and the original decision to reject has been upheld in 26 cases to date as the applications were deemed to have been assessed in accordance with the Council's criteria and guidance. One case is on hold pending receipt of further information which has been requested from the applicant. A further case was passed back to the business support team as the email from the applicant was a complaint, rather than an appeal and one case was referred back to the business support team for a reassessment in the first instance as the appeal included additional information that had not yet been assessed by the Business Support Team.

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

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 21 May 2021

HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning

All departmental and overarching Business Continuity Plans continue to be in place.  A Covid-19 annex to the HSCP Business Continuity Plan provides more detailed information on essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements, arrangements to support and sustain commissioned services, arrangement for sustaining staff capacity and communications.  These business continuity frameworks will continue to be updated in response to presenting and projected pressures and developing guidance. Virtual management team meetings are also well established.  In response to Scottish Government correspondence on the matter, the HSCP Board has established temporary revisions to normal business processes from its meeting on 21 January, in order to reduce the duration of meetings, with a sharpened focus.   This approach will be reviewed again post recess.

Performance and activity reports continue to be prepared for consideration by the HSCP Board as normal.  These provide indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19 across HSCP functions and services, as well as reporting on normal business activity and performance.  A Q4 full-year report will be presented for consideration at the IJB’s June meeting. The full annual performance report will be presented in September.    

In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, an HSCP Transition and Recovery Plan has been developed, with a focus on service remobilisation wherever safe and possible to do so.  This is updated iteratively in line with Scotland’s updated routemap.  The HSCP is also linking with the Council and NHSGGC on ensuring consistent decision-making and communication on service prioritisation and transition planning.  A number of business continuity response and tracking arrangements have now been de-escalated to standby status in order to re-direct resources to recovery planning, they can be re-escalate immediately if necessary. 

The HSCP has completed the vast majority of its components of the vaccination programme with arrangements for younger housebound over 18s remaining to roll out. Vaccination opportunities continue to be offered to all health and social care staff, and those in supporting roles, who are front facing, and arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it. 

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.

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, bus 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. 

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

Service Delivery Impacts

Most social care services continue to be delivered on a business as usual basis e.g. statutory assessment and supervision services, care at home and residential care. Building based day and respite services are now resuming, or have already resumed, working on a revised and much reduced capacity basis, including Kelvinbank Resource Centre and Milan day centre.  Alternative forms of support are provided where possible.   

A fortnightly business continuity report is prepared to highlight delivery status across all HSCP essential services, staff availability levels and operational team contingency arrangements.  

Assessment and Care Management

Social Work assessment and care management referrals 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 are currently high with a resulting pressure around people’s whose discharge from hospital is delayed. The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services. 

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

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

Direct Services

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

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

The ED Interim CO continues to lead pan NHSGGC on shared work on care at home and day care services

Testing for Social Care Staff

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

Support to Care Homes

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

Processes for regular staff testing and enhanced outbreak testing of residents where required are well established. At the time of writing no homes in the area are experiencing an outbreak. Indoor visiting in care homes began to be reintroduced from early March. As of the 16 April six people from six different households are permitted to visit a resident outdoors, as long as the care home area is in level 3 or lower as per Scottish Government rating, and the home has no outbreak. From this week guidance has been implemented that sets out how day and overnight trips out of care homes for residents can be safely arranged.

The process for the close down of Campsie Neurological Unit and relocation of its residents nears completion. One resident remains to be relocated which is scheduled to take place in time for the planned closure date of 26 May 2021.  

Support to Home Care 

The Care at Home service continues to be increasingly busy, with a noticeable trend towards referrals for more complex and staff intensive care support.  All required PPE and support for safe use of this continues to be in place.  Weekly testing for our care at home workforce is in place. 

Other

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