Confirmed – Care Workers in Edinburgh are not getting the pay rise promised by the Scottish Government.

Below is a briefing from the Chief Officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership. It confirms that it has not been given the funds to meet the 3.3% pay rise pledge made by the Scottish Government – proof that headlines are cheap.

The Evening News deserves great credit for the work it has done in recent years to raise awareness of the social care crisis our capital has been facing. The pandemic has further highlighted, however, just how important social care workers are. Frankly, I think that it is incredible that it took a pandemic for the Scottish Government to offer care workers the living wage – it is the absolute minimum they deserve. The revelation that the service is so underfunded in Scotland’s capital that care workers won’t get the living wage like their counterparts elsewhere is an insult to care staff which should shame us all.

Update (7pm on 14th May 2020) – The Evening News has now spoken to the Scot Gov and Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, and they have said:

“The Scottish Government has agreed to fund the additional costs required to meet this commitment. We are working closely with Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership on delivering the payments and have every expectation that these hard working social care staff will be paid at least the new Real Living Wage of £9.30 backdated to 1 April.”

The Scottish Government

We recognise the importance of compensating health and social care workers suitably for the key roles they undertake. Planning is well underway to implement the 3.3% salary uplift outlined by the Scottish Government in April and we have been working closely with them to finalise the funding arrangements which underpin this commitment.”

Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership

I am hopeful that as well as funding the pay rise, the Scottish Government will now fully fund social care provision in Edinburgh.

Briefing
Many of our providers have been in touch asking what our plans are for implementing the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to fair work and the living wage in adult social care by agreeing a national contractual uplift of 3.3%.  As soon as the announcement was made, my team contacted the Scottish Government and we have been working closely with them to finalise the funding arrangements which underpin this commitment. 

Here, in Edinburgh, we are extremely conscious of the contribution all heath and social care staff make towards keeping vulnerable people in our city safe and this is more true now than ever.  Every day my team and I hear heart-warming examples of the extra mile colleagues in this extended workforce are going to to support people in the most testing circumstances.  We therefore recognise the importance of enabling providers to maintain a fair working regime to suitably recompense workers for the key roles they are undertaking.

This desire, however, needs to be set against the financial challenges facing the public sector in Scotland and the rising costs of all services which regularly outstrip the income we receive.  For 20/21 we are facing an opening budgetary gap of c£24m and, as yet, have not fully identified how we will meet this.  As such, it would be extremely difficult for us to increase this funding gap, which is why agreeing funding with the Scottish Government is so crucial for us.  Our calculations show that we would need around a  further £5m to fund an across the board increase of 3.3% on all our contracts so I’m sure you will understand our need for assurance. 

As soon as we get confirmation from colleagues in the Government we will move quickly to implement.

A mandate for safer travel for all in Colinton, Oxgangs & Fairmilehead

Introduction
The Scottish Government have given Councils £10m to improve travel safety during the Covid-19 crisis and in the recovery phase. In addition to this, the UK Government has launched £2bn fund which will also support safer travel. These investments are really to solve two problems:

  1. Lots of people have embraced healthier lifestyles – more walking, jogging and cycling. However, footpaths are often too congested for people to keep a safe distance from others when walking and many cyclists are finding the roads unsafe.
  2. As the lockdown lifts, it appears unlikely (in the short term at least) that people will go back to using the bus as they did before. The Council therefore wants to make the city safer to walk and cycle.

The City of Edinburgh has received some criticism for failing to consult on how this money is being spent. This blog is about how I have consulted people in my Ward on the way forward.

Although the Council has done nothing in my ward yet to make walking and cycling safer, I have received many ideas from local residents for making travel easier for everyone. In short, these focus on making residential areas safer and improving safety for cyclists on key arterial routes through (and into) my Ward. Rather than take the proposals straight to the Council I wanted to give people a chance to rate the ideas and make further suggestions of their own. This is important as, hopefully, it will make the Council more likely to take the proposals seriously.

The Survey
I complied a survey of all the ideas on Google Forms and issued it on my Blog and via my mailing list at around 8pm on Tuesday (5th of May). I did not share the blog post until 8pm on Wednesday (via Twitter – see below). I posted it on my Facebook page at around 8pm on Thursday.

Releasing the survey on this phased way meant that if it was somehow hijacked on social media, I would know the first 24 hours would not be impacted. The responses were as follows: Day 1 – 179, Day 2 – 63 and Day 3 – 50.

The people responding to the survey were encouraged to give their postcode and 175 did so. When plotted, it can be seen that the vast majority of the respondents live in my Ward.

Let me be clear, I think this is the most authoritative survey of the public in Edinburgh on how we improve safety on our footpaths and roads within the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Results
The survey focused on three key issues:

  1. Safer streets for residents – blocking rat runs.
  2. Extra protection for cyclists on key routes.
  3. Reviews of parking in key areas

Safer streets for residents – The focus of these proposals was making it safer for people in residential areas to move around by stopping drivers cutting through the area. People were asked if is this was a “Good Idea”, “Bad Idea” or if they were “Unsure”.

The results showed that there was overwhelming support for stopping vehicles using Oxgangs Road North as a local shortcut. When unsure responses were removed, there was also clear support for addressing the other local rat-runs.

Extra protection for cyclists on key routes – The focus of these proposals was making it safer for people using bikes to commute to elsewhere in the city. Again people were asked if is this was a “Good Idea”, “Bad Idea” or if they were “Unsure”.

The results showed that there was overwhelming support for improving routes for people on bikes. Even with “Unsure” responses included, there was a clear desire for cycle lanes to be introduced on key routes.

This question also asked if there was support for immediately reducing the speed limit on all 40mph roads in my Ward to 30mph – the response was clear.

Reviews of parking in key areas – The focus of these proposals was dealing with parking problems – those generated by the crisis (e.g. people driving to beauty spots to take exercise), and planning for the recovery phase.

The results showed that there was overwhelming support for reviewing parking around all schools in my Ward to ensure social distancing can be maintained when they reopen, with 95% of people backing the measure.

Support for reviewing parking elsewhere, however, was dominated by uncertainty. Nonetheless, when “Unsure” responses were removed, there was a clear majority in favour of dealing with some of the problems these communities are facing.

Crossing Points – I also took the opportunity to ask if there were any road crossing points where it may be difficult for pedestrians to maintain social distancing. The word-cloud diagram below shows the responses, but crossing points in Colinton Village were mentioned by 18 people, with one saying:

Colinton Village Pedestrians crossing outside Coop supermarket: path width either side is 1.5m, and southern footpath is not suitable for physical distancing. Worse, the guardrail steals up extra space, pushing pedestrians into live traffic.

Colinton resident

Many others raised Fairmilehead crossroads:

The Fairmilehead crossroads (where the A702 meets the B701) is terrible for pedestrians. The metal barriers make distancing really difficult, and the lights are very unfriendly to pedestrians. It really needs an “all-cross” mode in the sequence. A lot of people cross on red,, but vehicles can travel fast around the bend.

Fairmilehead resident

A number also raised Oxgangs Avenue:

The end of Oxgangs Ave leading onto Oxgangs Road North. The island for pedestrians is very close to where cars are trying to turn – often groups of school children trying to cross at the same time.

Oxgangs resident

Narrow Footpaths – The last question asked people to identify areas where the footpath is simply too narrow. The word-cloud diagram shows the responses, but Braid Road (just outside my Ward!) was mentioned 20 times. The narrow footpath at the crest of Braid Road was a common concern:

Brow of hill on braid road – pedestrians always having to walk in the road and can’t be seen by cars and pedestrians can’t see cars either. Lots of families walking that route to access braid hills entrance there.

Buckstone resident

Others raised concerns about the Walkway beside the Braid Burn:

The path along the Braid Burn from Oxgangs Road North up to Colinton Mains Road, continuing up to Redford Road alongside the care home is narrow and fenced in by flood management defences so not currently a usable alternative to the road if trying to socially distance.

Colinton Mains resident

Woodhall Road was mentioned by 11 people:

Woodhall Road after Bonaly Road. Several times I have seen children having to go onto the road to allow people past who have chosen the ‘wall’ side, with traffic travelling well over the 20mph limit.

Colinton resident

The width of footpaths in Colinton Village was also a concern:

Almost all footpaths are not wide enough to maintain social distancing. Key trip generators and busy roads need to be prioritised. Significant areas that draw in people that are inadequately supported is Colinton Village centre ( this public realm and provision for access by non motorised users is already poor and does not cater well for those with protected charteristics and any area where services are positioned by carriageway.

Colinton resident

Conclusion
With almost 300 people completing the survey over a three day period, the the results offer the most credible understanding of the extent to which the community wants the Council to take action to improve everyone’s safety in my Ward. The survey gives the Council the mandate to develop a six point plan to:

  1. Reduce rat-running in residential ares;
  2. Improve cycle safety on key routes;
  3. Review parking in key hotspots;
  4. Cut 40mph speed limits to 30mph;
  5. Bring forward measures to enable social distancing at key crossing points; and,
  6. Review locations where the footpaths are not wide enough for pedestrians to safely pass each other.

What Next?
I shall be forwarding this blog to the Council and request a formal response. In the interim, if you have not done so already, please complete my survey.

Cllr Scott Arthur, 9th of May 2020

A Survey – Safer Travel for all in Colinton, Oxgangs & Fairmilehead

The Scottish Government have given Councils £10m to improve travel safety during the Covid-19 crisis and in the recovery phase. This is really to solve two problems:

  1. Lots of people have embraced healthier lifestyles – more walking, jogging and cycling. However, footpaths are often too congested for people to keep a safe distance from others when walking and many cyclists are finding the roads unsafe.
  2. As the lockdown lifts, it appears unlikely (in the short term at least) that people will go back to using the bus as they did before. The Council therefore wants to make the city safer to walk and cycle.

I have received some ideas from local residents for making travel around my Ward safer for everyone. In short, these focus on making residential areas safer and improving safety for cyclists on key arterial routs through (and into) my Ward. Before I speak to the Council about this, I wanted to give people a chance to rate the ideas and make further suggestions of their own via this survey. 

You can find the survey here.

Briefing – Waste and Cleansing Service Recovery Plan in Edinburgh

Below is an update from the Council on the status of the waste collection system in Edinburgh. The key points are:

  1. Recycling centres remain closed due to Government restrictions, but a plan is ready for their safe operation once they can reopen.
  2. The special uplift service should return in the near future.
  3. There are no plans to reopen public toilets as yet.

Briefing

This briefing outlines the steps we’re taking to review and reinstate Waste and Cleansing Services during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. It also highlights some of the assumptions being made in the reinstatement of services, particularly any relaxation of current Government guidelines.

A number of services were suspended during the outbreak both as a result of reductions in available staff, and the requirement to ensure physical distancing to reduce risks to collection staff. This reduced the numbers of staff who can occupy a vehicle cab. As a result, the service had to adapt and change the way in which collections were carried out. 

It is particularly important to note that the current intention is to maintain physical distancing controls for crews until such time as we are comfortable that normal crew arrangements can be reinstated.

In Edinburgh, our focus was on maintaining the most critical services which were required to maintain public health, including general household waste, food collections, mixed recycling and all communal bin services.

Absence levels due to Coronavirus currently appear to have reached a plateau within waste collection. Staffing availability will continue to be tracked daily and forecast for the weeks ahead.

The following outlines the current position with regards to each of our collection services.

Kerbside and communal services

With the exception of blue box and garden waste collections all the remaining kerbside and communal services have been fully maintained. In some cases, across communal collections, the collection frequency has been enhanced to reflect people staying at home and generating more waste than they might normally.

There has been some media coverage suggesting an increase in rat/vermin sightings and reports.

The number of rat complaints received between 13 March 2020 and the 24 April 2020 was 27. For the same period in 2019 there were 81 requests for service.

Blue box collections

Blue box collections of glass were the first to be suspended. As staff numbers have stabilised over the last two weeks this service was reinstated with effect from 28 April. 

Communications messaging has focused on residents assisting collection crews by not presenting excess glass waste outside of their boxes and instead asking residents to filter additional glass over the course of their next few collections. 

Early indications are that we are collecting double the glass tonnage each day than would be collected under normal circumstances. 

Garden waste collection

Those garden staff who remain at work have been used to support the core functions of collecting residual waste, mixed recycling, food and communal bins alongside allowing the service to provide additional collections to high rise properties to prevent increased fire risk.

Garden waste collections will be reinstated in the week commencing 11 May.  Relevant communications to the public have commenced. Customers are being emailed or written to in order to confirm reinstatement.

It is currently proposed to extend a customer’s permit to cover the number of missed collections resulting from the suspension.

Household Waste Recycling Centres 

All three household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) in Edinburgh remain closed and all HWRCs in Scotland are currently closed. This is in line with Government guidance that people should only leave their homes for defined essential activities and the provision of HWRCs is not considered by the Government to be essential at this time. 

There has been discussion around a co-ordinated reopening of HWRCs in Scotland when the appropriate time comes to avoid any mass surge in visits to any particular Council sites should they be the first to re-open. This approach has not yet been confirmed on a national basis, although as a minimum Edinburgh are actively holding discussions with neighbouring Councils to establish their intentions.

The service is currently working to an assumption that the HWRCs will re-open following a relaxation of the current Government guidelines, however are awaiting further guidance.

At this stage we are assuming that when the sites re-open there will be a requirement for some form of social distancing to protect both customers and staff. Current proposals being considered are:

  • initially opening two of the three sites which may be defined by staff availability
  • restricting the range of materials accepted to core garden, black bag, bulky and possibly cardboard
  • restricting staff assistance to customers (to move materials to skips)
  • requiring physical distancing measures to be followed at all times and therefore restrictions on the number of customers on the site at any one time and following a one in, one out policy.

Communications messaging will need to focus on increased wait times and new site working arrangements to avoid additional frustration for customers. It is important to note that the way in which HWRCs operate, and the way in which customers use them, is likely to change significantly.

When a reopening date is confirmed a further briefing will be provided to Elected Members and will focus on the arrangements that will be in place to protect staff and customers.

Special uplifts of bulky waste

At the current time we are working towards a reinstatement date in the near future, although the precise date is yet to be confirmed. There is an element of direct support required from colleagues in Customer and their current working arrangements are being considered.

Online booking forms would likely go live one week ahead of the first job being carried out. It is highly likely we would be unable to provide assisted special uplifts (where operatives enter a person’s house to uplift) due to the obvious risks. We may also need to restrict the number of items that can be booked on one job to five rather than ten. The average number of items uplifted per job is two.

We normally provide ninety slots per day but can increase this if demand is excessive.

Whilst Special Uplifts have been suspended, the staff have been providing support to Cleansing colleagues on the uplift of dumping and fly tipping. As the table overleaf shows the number of dumping/fly tipping requests/complaints has reduced when measured against the same period in 2019.

Cleansing

Cleansing functions remain reduced but have been bolstered by staff from other areas. This service continues to operate albeit in a reduced state, with a focus on emptying litter bins and removing fly-tipping. Increased focus on mechanical cleansing will require to take place once restrictions are lifted.

Public conveniences

Public conveniences remain closed. There are currently no plans to reopen these although as with all services our aim would be to do so when we are satisfied that we can provide a reliable and safe service.

Briefing – Edinburgh is set to introduce emergency measures for pedestrians and cyclists

Braid Road is a road that will close – this video shows what it can be like in normal times.

Below is a briefing on a Council plan to close key roads to improve safety for cycles and pedestrians. I will share further details when I get them. I would welcome suggestions for measures to be implemented in my Ward.

Briefing
The City of Edinburgh Council is set to become one of the first local authorities in the UK to introduce emergency measures to help pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely while observing physical distancing guidance.

COVID-19 has undoubtably changed the way in which the road network is being used and will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.

There is significant public concern and demand for changes to how parts of our road and footway network are configured to allow easier, safer distancing to be practiced when people are moving around for daily exercise or as essential workers. The Council needs to act quickly in response to this, so it can support safe travel by foot and bike for all our citizens.

There have been significant increases in the number of people walking and cycling during recent weeks in comparison to normal conditions.

Yesterday’s announcement from the Scottish Government confirmed a £10m ‘Spaces for People’ fund to help local authorities introduce such emergency measures. It will provide 100% funding for what are expected to be relatively low cost, emergency measures. Our Active Travel Team has been working closely with Transport Scotland and SUSTRANS to develop an approach within the current legislative framework.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be implementing several changes to help prioritise walking and cycling. Immediate actions will tackle areas highlighted as pinch points for pedestrians and cyclists and will include some road lane closures and the implementation of temporary cycle lanes. There has been significant, understandable public demand for action to help facilitate safe daily exercise and the movement of essential workers.
In the medium term, as lockdown measures continue and are eventually eased, we will develop a citywide approach to more significant changes, such as expanded cycle lanes and the creation of bus gates. Longer term, it is proposed that progress on more permanent schemes under the Active Travel Programme is brought forward.

Immediate measures will include the closure of the following roads:
• Silverknowes Road (implemented by Thursday, 30 April)
• Braid Road (implemented by Sunday, 3 May)
• Links Gardens (implemented by Sunday, 3 May)

These locations have been identified in close dialogue with relevant Council services and Police Scotland who have expressed concerns in each area. Further emergency measures are being investigated for implementation in the weeks beginning 4 May and 11 May and these will be communicated as soon as possible.

We will continue to quickly address other ‘pinch points’ and local issues, making use of Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders where necessary, which allow urgent amendments to be made to road layouts to help create more space for people on foot or bike.

A report will be brought to Policy and Sustainability Committee on 14 May 2020 detailing a city-wide approach to more significant network changes eg the creation of expanded cycle lanes, lane closures in vehicle space to create more space for walking or cycling or the creation of bus gates that prevent access to all but a few types of vehicles.

Further information on the Council’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is available online.

Legal Framework
In creating new road layouts, the Council is required to use Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). The process involved in doing so is onerous, due to the need to effectively consult on proposals. The need for more urgent changes to our network means that we need to find a more effective path towards effective action.

Section 14 (1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA) 1984 allows the Roads Authority (the Council) to produce Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs) in certain circumstances that can be in place for up to 18 months for a road or carriageway or six months for a footpath or cycleway.

A TTRO carries a much lighter requirement for consultation and advertisement and, unlike a TRO, cannot be objected to.

One of the circumstances that Section 14 (1) of the RTRA allows a TTRO to be made under is where the Roads Authority are of the opinion that there is a ‘likelihood of danger to the public’. In this case, the danger would be the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the need to therefore mitigate this risk.

Legal Services colleagues have confirmed that there is scope to apply this definition of a danger to the public.

Scottish Water’s plan to fell their trees on Buckstone Terrace and replant the area.

Scottish Water have been in touch to say they plan to fell their trees on Buckstone Terrace and then replant the area. Local residents have been issued letters (copy at the bottom of this post) explaining that this is due to safety concerns.

These trees are not potected (i.e. the area on the above map is not shaded) so Scottish Water do not need planning permission from the Council (I am waiting on this being confirmed).

I put a number of questions to Scottish Water on the issue:

Me: When will the replacement trees be planted?
Scottish Water: The best time for tree planting is late autumn, so subject to approval from Forestry Scotland we would plan to remove the remaining conifer trees around Sept and we will plant new trees shortly after this (Oct/Nov) this year.

Me: Will the trees be checked for nesting birds? What will happen if any are found?
Scottish Water: The trees have been checked for nesting birds this morning (20/04/20) by our ecologist. I am advised that no nests were found in the 11 trees concerned.

Me: Are there any plans to remove litter etc from the woodland?
Scottish Water: I’m presuming you mean litter like cans, bottles, crisp packet type litter. In which case, yes, we will arrange a litter clear up when the Covid-10 restrictions are eased.

I now have the safety audit and tree inspection that was undertaken on Scottish Water’s “woodland plantation”. Scottish Water provided the report along with this comment:

“I would like to reassure you and the local community that Scottish Water have no intention of developing this part of the site and we will be replacing the trees we are removing by replanting across the area of woodland. We will develop a plan for this in conjunction with Scottish Forestry and share these plans with the community. I’d like to thank you for sharing information with the local community on Facebook and helping us keep people informed.”

Reading the report, it is clear that eleven trees were recommended for urgent removal on safety grounds. The report says “the plantation as a whole has limited future potential and is becoming an increasing liability to the site. It is recommended that this be removed in its entirety within 12 months” and “replanted with a range of more suitable species”.

The report points out that the trees are within “striking distance” of Scottish Water’s offices and “the trees are of large size and stature and have the capacity to cause significant damage or injury should they collapse onto a target. The conifers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to windblow given their age, height and growing environment”.

The report highlights that in March 2020 a single tree on the eastern edge of the woodland “uprooted and fell towards the office building, striking and damaging the outer cladding above the cafeteria”. Examination of the stump did not reveal any indication of a problem and the tree appeared to have been healthy, but it was noted the ground conditions allowed only shallow rooting.

The report states that given the size of the trees and close proximity to the building and road/footpath “there is clearly the risk of significant damage to property or injury to person”. The survey concluded that “selective tree removal or thinning work would only increase the risk of windblow to the remaining exposed trees”. It is recommended that the plantation is felled and replanted within 12 months, and this should be used as an “opportunity to create a more attractive and sustainable landscape with enhanced biodiversity value”.

Conclusion
I am sad to see these trees being lost as they help define the area for 70 years, but it is hard for me to argue againt the report (based on my limited knowledge of trees). I admit the report is not unequivocal, but a strong case is made for removing the trees.

Please email me for a copy of the report: Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.gov.uk

City of Edinburgh Council Briefing – Restarting kerbside glass recycling

Below is a (welcome) briefing from Council Officers on restarting kerbside glass recycling.


Briefing
We will be reintroducing kerbside glass recycling collections from Tuesday, 28 April, when they will return to usual fortnightly collection schedules.
The service was suspended in March to help prioritise resources for other essential bin collections while enabling waste collection crews to observe social distancing guidelines.

In March the number of operatives in refuse lorry cabs was reduced in order to give crew members the space to stay two metres apart, meaning we needed increased resources to carry out the collection of kerbside and communal general waste, food recycling and dry mixed recycling.

While the glass recycling service will recommence on Tuesday, 28 April residents should check collection calendars for their next blue box collection date. We’re encouraging people to put out only one blue box and to store any excess glass for the next collection, as boxes may become too heavy to lift, posing a health risk to crews.

Garden waste collections and special uplifts are currently suspended while Household Waste and Recycling Centres remain closed though we’re working hard to reintroduce these services as soon as it is safe to do so.

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is encouraged to follow the guidance on how to dispose of waste correctly to help protect the safety of bin collection crews.

Additional measures taken to safeguard waste and cleansing workers’ health have included the increased provision of hand sanitiser supplies, in addition to hot water handwashing points in a number of vehicles, the washing down of lorries at the end of shifts and efforts to encourage social distancing in depots.

Further information on changes to bin collections and other services can be found on the Council website.

Council Briefing – Suspension of the garden waste service in Edinburgh

Below is a Council briefing on the suspension of garden waste collection due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Briefing
We’re working hard to keep our waste and cleansing services running during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Staff shortages and emerging guidance on social distancing measures for collection crews means we’ve had to prioritise our key services and adapt the way we deliver them.

From Tuesday 7 April we’re suspending garden waste collections until further notice. This means the last collection of garden waste will be for bins that are due to be collected on Friday 3 April. This will allow us to focus on non-recyclable waste (grey wheelie bins and black lidded communal bins) and food waste collections, as these could pose a health hazard if they’re not collected.

  • We’re writing to all customers who have a garden waste permit to explain the situation.
    • We’re sending an email to customers who registered with their email address and writing letters to those without an email address.
    • Residents who have registered for a permit on behalf of someone else will be contacted too and are encouraged to let the person they’ve registered for the service know.
  • Blue box (glass) and special uplift collections have also stopped, and our recycling centres are closed until further notice.
  • Once we know the full extent of the disruption, we’ll be in touch with customers to explain how they will be recompensed.

How residents can help

  • We’re focused on helping our most vulnerable residents. If residents have comments or questions about the service changes please ask them not to call us at this stage as it’s vitally important we keep our phone lines free so our contact centre staff can deal with emergency calls.
  • Anyone with symptoms of Coronavirus must follow the guidance on how to dispose of their waste correctly.
  • Garden waste customers should continue recycling their garden waste by using a compost bin if possible.
  • If someone has had a missed bin collection for our other services, please encourage them to remove their bin from the street and put it out on their next collection day. If they can’t wait until their next pick up day, they can report a missed bin on our website and we’ll try our best to get it.
  • Check in on neighbours and family and offer to put bins out for collection for anyone who is unable or might be self-isolating.
  • Visit our website and Twitter account regularly for the latest updates and changes to bin collections, street cleansing and other Council services.

Council briefing: Covid-19 – Additional Accommodation Needs

The briefing below outlines how the City of Edinburgh Council is planning to manage any extra demand for temporary accommodation arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

Briefing
This briefing note confirms the creation of a team to which will actively co-ordinate the provision of additional temporary accommodation and support for a range of requirements brought about by the Covid -19 pandemic. The Additional Accommodation Needs Team (AANT) was agreed through the Council’s Incident Management Team on 22 March 2020.

Action
The Council and Health and Social Care partners, through a variety of routes have been offered a range of accommodation from social housing and the private sector in addition to the potential use of university accommodation. To actively manage this, we will:

  1. Send out a Council message to thanks those who have come forward so far;
  2. Advise we will be in touch before the end of the week, if not earlier to gather additional information regarding numbers, costs and support requirements. For example. we have had an offer so far from one provider of a 500 bedded hotel;
  3. We will include in the message a contact e mail for any additional offers to come into -and a response will be provided within 3 working days of receipt.
  4. We are drawing up a checklist of the information we will need to gather form these providers.
  5. We will provide a progress report on, types of accommodation, and approximate numbers to Andrew Kerr and the Cabinet by Friday 27th and then on a weekly basis thereafter. Future progress reports will identify both the level of demand and the properties that we are progressing.

Background
Currently there are in the region of 3500 households in various forms of temporary accommodation in the city. Around 1300 of these spaces are shared accommodation, some with self-contained rooms, some
sharing facilities.

On average there are around 80 – 120 people rough sleeping each evening, although street-based outreach services have indicated that this has reduced over the last 2 weeks.

In addition, up to 70 people use the Bethany Christian Trust Care Shelters each evening, this includes people with no recourse to public finds. This accommodation is accessed on a night by night basis. The shelters continue to operate at the moment and there are no confirmed cases of Covid -19 from people accessing the shelters. Public Health (Duncan McCormick) have been extremely helpful in assessing the arrangements and working practices in place within the Shelter and have visited recently. Public Health will play an active part in this team, providing the necessary advice and direction to ensure safe provision of temporary accommodation in light of Covid 19.

In relation to Bed and Breakfast accommodation we are being guided by advice from public health in relation to individual circumstances and we have also identified some self-contained accommodation for families currently in Bed and Breakfast to move in to and these moves are taking place.

Current Circumstances
To date there have been a low number of requests from health partners to accommodate people who require to self-isolate. However, this is likely to increase and given the projected demand for hospital beds, it is likely a significant number of people who are in hospital, but who don’t need to be, will require alternative accommodation to free ups beds. This could potentially run into the hundreds.

We may also receive increased demands for accommodation in general. In addition, we are aware that the Scottish Government is currently considering the release of prisoners who are nearing completion of their sentences, in order to free up space within Prisons and reduce spread within the prisons.

On Friday, 17 homeless people who were in temporary accommodation were self-isolating, within the properties. These people have been provided with food packages and some have required additional care and support. Whilst these arrangements were made on an ad hoc basis initially, we have developed this team to take a more coordinated approach to the following elements:

  1. Identification of needs for self-isolation and additional temporary accommodation
  2. Collation of the offers of assistance from both the private sector and the social housing offers
  3. Matching need to offers that are viable, and
  4. Identifying and sourcing support packages in the form of both supplies and care support. This will need to include support for those with drug or alcohol addiction problems.

To ensure we are able to access the accommodation we need, manage costs and demand there needs to be a clear line of responsibility. Through the temporary accommodation service manager and our housing team, who have offered a project manager, we have the ability to do this in a coordinated way across the team.

This approach gives clear and specific roles to colleagues and partners, to ensure that we are as efficient as possible and that the right people, with expertise in their field can provide input in a joined-up way.
The following people have been identified:

  1. Lead Officer
  2. Sourcing and provision of accommodation to meet existing and future demand – An Officer and a project manager, will be required to co-ordinate offers, negotiate prices, ensure that supply meets demand at the correct time and manage the operational process around the allocation of properties.
  3. Alcohol and Drugs support – An Officer, will identify the people who require additional support in relation to drug and/or alcohol addiction including assessment of need and the package of care required.
  4. Care packages (including food) – An Officer, will identify and arrange the care packages including food, required for those taking up accommodation and will be the link to the Health and Social Care Partnership,
  5. Public Heath Advice – An Officer, will provide advice and guidance around the appropriate public health approach that is required for people accessing accommodation and for all homeless people currently in or accessing temporary accommodation.
  6. Procurement – Maggie Deane, will provide professional guidance and support around the purchase of accommodation to meet the Council’s needs including but not limited to waiver requirements, contract standing orders and authority levels.
  7. Legal Services – An Officer, will provide professional guidance and support around all legal aspects related to this project, including ensuring occupancy agreements meet our legal requirements.

These specific roles will allow this group to focus on their area of expertise and minimise the risk of duplication and/or inconsistent messaging.

Further to this, it limits the numbers of people involved in decision making, whilst allowing the leads to seek views from their area of work before reporting back to AANT.

Given the likely acceleration in Covid -19 cases and therefore the requirement for accommodation, care and support to be to be provided quickly and at significant levels, it is proposed that the team will meet on Tuesday 24 March 2020 via Skype to agree a meeting schedule, likely to be at least twice a week to ensure all information is as up to date as possible.

Council Briefing: Council Resilience Centres

Below is a briefing on the Covid-19 “Council Resilience Centres” which should start opening today. The key message here is that residents should use email and other online methods to report routine problems (missed bin collections etc). This will enable Council staff to focus on those most in need. My contact details are above just email me any non-urgent issues you want addressed.

Briefing
Council resources are being reorganised to support citizens in crisis, freeing up officers to provide critical advice and support to those in the most urgent need.

We are doing this to ensure we can support our most vulnerable residents, minimise risk to colleagues and their families and maintain essential services and direct them to where they are needed most.

Our advice line is available for urgent requests, with support for those most at risk and hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak to be prioritised in all circumstances.

We are encouraging members of the public to delay making routine and less urgent requests for as long as possible. Where-ever possible we need people to make those requests via email, webforms or other channels to allow officers to prioritise those in most critical need.

We are also making changes to the way we prioritise and operate services in the locality offices.

From Monday 23 March 2020, Council Resilience Centres will be established at the Council’s locality offices at Captains Road (South East), Niddrie Mains Road (North East), West Pilton Gardens (North West), Westside Plaza (South West). An additional centre will open in Leith at the Kirkgate Centre later in the week. Resilience teams will operate between 10.00 and 16.00 hours initially.

These centres will provide a base for a team of Council officers to work from so that they can target support and advice, manage urgent housing issues, respond to homelessness and provide support vulnerable households.  We are looking at how we can best provide food vouchers through these centres. Further details of this will be released in the coming days.

Access to these centres will be carefully managed to limit the risk of infection and to ensure the safety of staff and residents. There will be no direct access to these centres. A controlled access protocol will be in place to assess risk and requirement on a case by case basis.

The teams will be supported by a small team of professional officers and customer staff and will be managed by an onsite duty team manager. Two teams will be established for each centre to allow them to rotate. Staff currently working at home will be held in reserve and will be available to further reinforce these teams.

Our colleagues in these centres will have to deal with extraordinarily difficult situations in the most difficult circumstances. They will become tired and stressed at times. They will also be affected by requirements to self-isolate for 7 and 14 day periods if they or someone in their household develops symptoms.

I know Councillors will want to support them as much as possible. You can best do that by encouraging residents who have routine and less urgent needs to use the Council advice line and other channels to make service requests. And please wherever possible show your support for colleagues providing essential and critical services. They are showing enormous dedication and determination. Your support is really important to them now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Our member services team will set out arrangements next week for members who wish to make a service request on behalf of constituents. These arrangements will ensure that these requests are assessed and dealt with by the appropriate service.  This will allow the Centres and other front-line response services to focus on the most critical needs of residents.

We will be reviewing the operation of the centres on a daily basis. It will have adapt as we learn and as the issues and circumstances our communities face change.