Page 1

westlothian.gov.uk

westlothian.gov.uk

Issue 66 Spring 2013

P.3

Special Visitors

P.8

Budget explained

P.10

Benefit Changes

Investing in West Lothian

Depute Council Leader Cathy Muldoon joined pupils from West Calder High School after it was announced that the school will undergo a £10 million refurbishment, resulting in improvements to the school’s dining and PE facilities. The funding is part of the council’s Asset Management Strategy and General Services Capital Programme 2013/14 to 2017/18.

A spending package of over £1 billion will be introduced by West Lothian Council over the next five years. The wide-ranging investment programme includes new schools and community facilities, road and infrastructure improvements and 1,000 new council homes. Measures to protect vulnerable people and improve the West Lothian economy are also included in the council’s plans. Leader of West Lothian Council, John McGinty, explained: “The investment highlights our commitment to improving the lives of West Lothian residents.

“The spending plans are farreaching and will benefit each and every community in West Lothian. “As everyone knows, these are very challenging financial times and over the next two years West Lothian Council has to make savings of around £14 million, which inevitably means that that there are hard choices to be made. “West Lothian Council’s Delivering Better Outcomes Consultation proved an

extremely successful way of gaining an understanding of what services are most important for West Lothian residents. “In January, five reports were presented to a special meeting of West Lothian Council, which aim to align corporate planning with budgets. The reports were developed from the Delivering Better Outcomes Consultation, ensuring residents and local groups had an important say in where their tax is spent.

0 Visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/email to sign up to our new E-Bulletin

“The council is taking a proactive approach to medium- term budget planning, which we hope will bring stability for residents. Despite some hard decisions and a below-inflation increase in our budget from central government, West Lothian Council has worked very hard to ensure that this is an extremely positive budget, and the investment programme in the short and medium term will provide a huge amount of improvements over the next five years.”

Budgets approved in January 2013:

• Revenue Budget 2013/14 and 2014/15 = £362.285 million and £362.626 million • Asset Management strategy and General Services Capital Programme 2013/14 to 2017/18 = £200 million • Housing Capital Programme 2013/14 to 2017/18 = £197 million • Housing Revenue Account – Revenue Budget = £43.2 million. For more information on the investments, turn to page eight.

Find us on:


P2 Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council

westlothian.gov.uk

Spring clean your finances

Growth plan just the West Lothian Council is set to lead on an ambitious plan to deliver an extra 3,000 jobs for the area in the next five years. The West Lothian Economic Growth Plan was developed by West Lothian Council, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. It could result in up to £29.18 million being spent to deliver support for local people and businesses to regenerate communities, following the closure of the Hall’s plant in Broxburn. Councillor Cathy Muldoon, Depute Leader of West Lothian Council, who will have a key role in the scheme through the West Lothian Economic Partnership Forum and its Enterprise Sub Group, said: "To date there has been excellent

partnership working which has enabled the West Lothian Economic Growth Plan to be developed. “For the plan to be successful, it is vital that this partnership approach continues and that there is on-going support from West Lothian Economic Partnership Forum. "It is important that our area moves forward. We already have a hard-working and skilled work-force and the West Lothian Economic Growth Plan will provide a positive message that West Lothian is a great place to invest, grow and locate businesses."

The plan, which will be delivered by the council in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, aims to provide immediate support for local people, community regeneration, an enterprise area, and long-term innovation and development for business. Work has already started on the West Lothian Economic Growth Plan: • The first meeting of the Enterprise Sub-Group took place in February. • A third jobs fair is planned for the Spring to help former Hall’s staff and others seeking work to find new opportunities.

Spring is just around the corner and now is a great time to take a good look at your financial situation.

• The council is working with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government to explore the viability of creating a Research and Innovation hub around food and drink. • Business leaders will be invited to an Economic Conference on 24 April, which will focus on growth and inward investment. • Following partnership working with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government, regulations for the creation of Enterprise Area sites in West Lothian will be considered by the Scottish Parliament in March.

Steps N2 Work is just the job contents • Page 4: Results from the

Your Say consultation; the Almondbank Centre in Craigshill opens; Work completed on Livingston war memorial; Royal Regiment Homecoming parade announced.

• Page 5: Gardens competition

winners; New climbing wall for Blackburn; Armadale cemetery extension complete; Win tickets to the EFR Scotland British Pipe band championships in Bathgate.

• Page 6 and 7: Your 2013/14 Council Tax.

• Page 8 and 9: The council’s budgets explained.

• Page 10 to 12: Your guide to welfare reform changes.

• Page 13: New LISA campaign aims to tackle domestic abuse; Focus on equality.

• Page 14: New Broxburn flood prevention scheme finished; West Lothian celebrates Book Week Scotland; Citizens Panel recruitment; Different ways to connect to the council.

• Page 15: New garden at

Strathbrock family unit; Food waste pilot launches; Win tickets to see Livingston FC; News in brief.

• Page 16: Sports Bulletin in association with Xcite.

An innovative programme is working to deliver jobs for West Lothian young people. The first permanent jobs have been created through the Steps N2 Work wage subsidy programme, which offers eligible companies the chance to employ a West Lothian young person, with the council providing 50% of their salary costs for up to a year, depending on age. Over 130 positions for young people have been created through the scheme as of January 2013. Of the 30 young people who have completed placements so far, 70% have gone onto positive destinations, such as a permanent job or further training. Cathy Muldoon, Executive councillor for development

Councillor Muldoon and Leo Hewitt

and transport, recently visited Livingston-based printing firm Kumo Inks to meet Leo Hewitt (24) from Linlithgow, who has secured a permanent job as junior designer through Steps N2 Work. Councillor Muldoon said: “The Steps N2 Work wage subsidy programme is already starting to deliver benefits for young people in West Lothian, by helping employers create real work opportunities. “The fact that permanent employment has been created so soon after the programme was

launched demonstrates that the programme is creating sustainable employment, as well as providing young people like Leo with a chance to prove to employers they can be a permanent valuable asset to their businesses.” Stef Walczynski from Kumo Inks added: “Having had such a positive experience we have already recommended it to other businesses and are looking at using the process again in the near future.”

The success of the Steps N2 Work programme has led to it being rolled out to the third sector. The council has provided £158,000 of funding for up to 40 positions in voluntary organisations and social enterprise groups, to deliver more job opportunities, and help not-for-profit organisations with their work. Bathgate-based social enterprise Kidzeco, which was set up to benefit local families with

recycling baby and children’s goods, took advantage of the scheme to recruit Debbie Dodds (21) from Bathgate to their staff. Debbie said: “Working in Kidzeco is a great opportunity for me to not only get full time employment, but to learn new skills, meet new people and help the community.”

Anne Cowe, Shop Supervisor at Kidzeco, added: “Without this financial contribution from Steps N2 Work we could not currently offer a full time post within Kidzeco.” For more information email stepsn2work@westlothian.gov.uk

A good place to start is by writing down all of your monthly expenses and then looking at your income. Hopefully you have more income than expenditure, but you could have a very finely balanced budget or find you have financial issues. If you think that you need help to manage your finances, don’t delay, ask for support. A spokesperson for West Lothian Advice Shop said: “We often find that people cope by not opening their bills. Often it is possible to negotiate with utility and credit card companies to come up with a payment plan. It is much easier if people get in touch sooner rather than later. “Another growing issue is the increase in companies on the high street and online offering short term ‘Pay Day’ Loans. However well they advertise and make their product sound inviting, people should be aware of the astronomical rates of interest that they use if the loans are not repaid on time. We would urge anyone finding that they are getting into debt to contact us for advice urgently.” Executive councillor for social policy, Danny Logue, commented: “Staff at West Lothian Advice Shop are available to help you with money and debt advice. Also consider speaking to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or one of West Lothian’s Credit Unions.” West Lothian Council Advice Shop offers free confidential and expert advice on all aspects of debt and money advice. No appointment is necessary as you will be seen primarily by the officer on duty and if further referral is required for a more complex enquiry then you will be contacted within 48 hours by a member of the Money Advice team. Information is available on the council’s website: www. westlothian.gov.uk/adviceshop or telephone: 01506 283000. •

Credit Unions are not-for- profit organisations offering affordable financial services in the form of savings accounts and low cost loans to its members. They are also a good alternative to pay-day loans. Contact details are available on page 12.


westlothian.gov.uk

Green light for primary extension

Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council P3

Pupils and staff at a West Lothian school are set to benefit from improved sports and dining facilities. Proposals for a £1.65 million extension at Balbardie Primary School in Bathgate have been approved. The plans include a dining hall, multi-use assembly hall and link corridor, with work scheduled to start in the spring and take around a year to complete. The 615 metre extension will have a contemporary design, including a sedum roof and larch timber cladding. Balbardie head teacher Greg

Welsh, said: “It’s an exciting time for the school community and we’re looking forward to the work getting underway. The extension will have modern sports facilities and new dining facilities for pupils. “The extension will improve facilites for physical activity in the school, which will provide more opportunities for healthy exercise. “The school's management team has planned a number of alternative facilites to ensure that the standard of education is

not affected during the building period.” Executive councillor for education, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, added: “The main aim of this investment is to improve the overall education and social environment for pupils by improving the facilities on offer. “The new extension will offer modern, high quality accommodation with the potential for greater flexibility in terms of how the space is used.”

Whitburn welcomes special visitors

Councillor Fitzpatrick and Balbardie Head Teacher Greg Welsh with left to right, Callum Nicol (P4), Sam Smillie (P1) and Amber Sommerville (P6).

Top award for school science club ‘Most dedicated’ trophy for local team

Sir Ian McKellen with Whitburn Academy pupils

Whitburn Academy welcomed Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, when they hosted the Horizon Victim Support Scotland conference recently, while one of the UK’s biggest stars of the stage and screen, Sir Ian McKellen, visited to help educate pupils on homophobic bullying.

Whitburn Academy pupils worked with Victim Support Scotland to stage the conference, which was for young people, about young people and by young people, and aimed to provide their perspective on the impact of crime and the support available. Sir Ian is best known for playing a variety of Shakespearean roles

The Princess Royal meets Whitburn Academy pupils

Picture courtesy of Stuart Vance/West Lothian Courier

as well as leading parts in highprofile film franchises such as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Magneto in X Men. He is also co-founder of Stonewall, and is touring schools across the country as part of their Education Champions Programme, which supports local authorities in helping their schools to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying.

Pupils made a presentation on their experiences of the impact of crime and what support services they need, in front of the Princess Royal and other conference delegates, as well as taking part in a Question Time style session with a panel alongside local politicians, police and victim support experts.

Pupils from Broxburn Academy were named as the ‘Most dedicated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) club in the UK’ at the National STEMNET Awards 2012. This is the latest accolade for the pupils, who were also crowned winners of the UK STEM Challenge 9 in 2012. The group’s Physics/Science Teacher Scott Bryce, also received a runner up award 'Most dedicated STEM Teacher in the UK'. As part of the award, the team will now take a trip to the European nuclear research laboratory CERN in Switzerland to see the Large Hadron Collider, courtesy of sponsors, the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Broxburn Academy Head Teacher Peter Reid said: “Everyone in the school is ecstatic that our science team has been named UK Champions.

“It is a fantastic achievement for the pupils, teachers, staff, parents and carers. I would also like to congratulate Scott Bryce who was runner up 'Most dedicated STEM teacher in the UK'. “During the last few years, the science team has gone from strength-to-strength and Broxburn Academy is becoming a centre of excellence for science competitions in West Lothian.” Vice-chair of the education executive Councillor David Dodds added: “I would like to add my congratulations to Broxburn Academy’s young scientists and to Scott Bryce on their fantastic achievements. “Success like this is achieved through the support of the whole school community so I would also like to say well done to all the teachers, support staff, parents and carers who have been involved.”

Broxburn’s STEM Team with, left to right Councillor Dodds, Teacher Scott Bryce, Council Leader John McGinty and Head Teacher Peter Reid.


P4 Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council

westlothian.gov.uk

Delivering Better Outcomes for West Lothian Thousands of West Lothian residents have made their views known on priorities for the council through the recent Delivering Better Outcomes consultation. The consultation attracted a record 2,953 submissions from individuals, staff and community groups, with 17,738 comments and suggestions. The consultation was open for nine weeks from 11 October to 14 December 2012. Council Leader John McGinty said: “Thanks to everyone who made their views known through the Delivering Better Outcomes consultation. Your opinions are important and the results of this consultation will play a key role in our future planning.” In the consultation, eight key priorities for the next five years were identified, with respondents asked to rank them in order of importance. There was strong support for all these priorities, which will underpin the work of the council going forward. The consultation document also asked for feedback on options on how the council should deliver the priorities and balance its budget.

An overwhelming number of people who participated, 94.3% of staff, 92.3% of individuals and 89.6% of organisations, agreed that the council should work more closely with other public, voluntary and community partners to help create better services and reduce costs. A total of 90.6% of staff and more than 80% of individuals and organisations also agreed that spending more time and money on prevention is an effective way to help people, and reduce costs. Participants were also asked, should the council consider increasing and introducing charges for some services as an alternative to reducing service provision and jobs. A total of 62.6% of individuals, 57.9% of organisations and 74.2% of staff, agreed. There was overwhelming support for a fair concessions scheme to ensure that those with lower incomes do not require to pay full charges for all services, with 84.6% of organisations, 74% of staff and 71% of individuals saying yes.

Full results from the consultation are published on the council’s website at www.westlothian.gov.uk/yoursay

Council Leader John McGinty with the West Lothian Schools Pipe Band

Shared approach success at Almondbank

Joint working is delivering improved services for a West Lothian community.

The Almondbank Centre in the Craigshill area of Livingston was officially opened following a £1.2 million refurbishment. The former Sheil House building has been transformed into a hub for a wide range of council and community services. It is now home to the council’s Almondbank Library and Access2Employment services, as well as a broad spectrum of community groups including the West Lothian Drug and Alcohol Service, West Lothian Credit Union, Craigshill Good Neighbourhood Network, West Lothian Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Daisy Drop-In Centre.

War memorial work completed

Improvements have been made to Livingston War Memorial.

Councillor Davidson, front right, was joined by pupils from Dedridge Primary, St Margaret’s Academy and the Wee Gems Nursery as well as representatives from the Royal British Legion Scotland and West Lothian Council to take part in bulb planting to mark the completion of the project.

The revamped War Memorial outside the West Lothian Civic Centre in Livingston has been unveiled. The project included changing the layout of the area to create a memorial garden, harder landscaping to accommodate

greater numbers and alterations to the current seating layout. The work was necessary to accommodate more people as the number able to view the parade was limited, and the changes will

help accommodate a larger public gathering. The council worked closely with the Royal British Legion Scotland to ensure that the improvements met their needs. Councillor Alex Davidson, the council’s Veterans Champion, was delighted with the new memorial, which was completed on schedule, ready for the Remembrance Day parade. “The War Memorial at West Lothian Civic Centre is a focal point for the Remembrance Day ceremony in Livingston,” said Councillor Davidson. “With rising attendances over recent years it is important that those attending and participating can be accommodated in a reasonable space. I’d like to thank the Royal British Legion Scotland for its support and advice.”

Representatives from all the organisations based in the centre, the West Lothian Schools Pipe Band and choirs from nearby Riverside Primary School were joined by Council Leader John McGinty for the official opening recently. Councillor McGinty said: “I’m pleased to officially open the Almondbank Centre. It’s an exciting opportunity to bring council services and community

groups together, with many already benefiting from closer working relations with others. “The £1.2 million investment in Almondbank will help create a platform for partnerships that will provide long-term benefits to both Craigshill residents and wider West Lothian population. “I hope residents using Almondbank will take the chance to see what else is on offer elsewhere in the centre.”

Royal Regiment comes home Livingston will stand to attention and honour 1 Scots, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, at a special Freedom and Homecoming Parade in April. Residents and visitors to West Lothian are being invited to line the streets and show their support for the troops at the parade, which starts outside West Lothian Civic Centre in Livingston at 11am on Thursday 18 April. The group of 200 soldiers from 1 Scots have recently returned from a tour of Afghanistan, and the parade will see them march along Howden South Road to the Terrace Roundabout (ASDA), before heading down Almondvale Boulevard. West Lothian's Provost Tom Kerr and Lord Lieutenant Isobel Brydie will take the salute at Civic Square in Almondvale Boulevard at 11.30am. Provost Tom Kerr said: “I hope that as many people as possible will come to Livingston Town Centre on Thursday 18 April, to show their support for

the troops. “Many of the soldiers are from West Lothian and I think this will be a proud day for their friends and family.” Come and show your support for Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 29 June. There will be a parade of veterans, cadets and other organisations through Livingston starting at noon from the West Lothian Civic Centre. Members of the public are invited to participate in the parade or come along and show their support, with displays and entertainment for all the family. The Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) Livingston Branch, The Scottish Veterans Association and the Armed Services Advice Project are all involved in the event. For more information visit the www.rblslivingston.co.uk


Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council P5

westlothian.gov.uk

Cemetery extension Work to extend Woodbank Cemetery in Armadale has been completed.

The £620,000 investment includes capacity for 800 lairs, car parking, a waiting room with toilet facilities, outdoor seating and accessible paths, as well as a footpath link to the adjacent old cemetery. An official dedication service was held recently for Elected Members of the local community and faith groups, with Reverend David Archer of the Armadale Methodist Church and Bashir Malik of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association leading the service. Executive councillor for the environment, Tom Conn, said: “This site should serve the needs of the local communities for the next 50 years and we’re delighted that the works have now been completed. “The site is ideally situated as it has an open view of the surrounding countryside, giving visitors the opportunity to visit their loved ones in a quiet peaceful environment. “I’d like to thank those who performed the dedication service and those who helped to arrange the dedication.”

Winner Muriel McClafferty, centre, receives her trophy from Provost Tom Kerr, left, and Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn, right, with Environment PDSP vice chair Councillor Barry Robertson, second from left, judges and event organisers.

Gardens winners are blooming marvellous! A special awards ceremony was held in Linlithgow Burgh Halls to recognise the gardeners of all ages and abilities who have created quality gardens despite the challenging weather conditions.

The 2012 coveted Gardener of the Year award went to Muriel McClafferty of Ladywell, Livingston. The judges said Muriel’s garden was a “superb use of garden design to maximise a relatively small garden creating a horticultural oasis. Although this garden was one of the smaller gardens in the competition, the careful and well thought-out design added to the skilful and imaginative plant combinations making this garden a very well- deserved winner.” The Best Newcomer award went to Derek Whitelaw of Broxburn and the Oatridge Award went to

John Cadzow of Winchburgh, one of only two gold medal winners in this year’s competition. Three budding gardeners of the future were also presented with awards for their efforts in the Best Sunflower category. Five-year-olds Erin Boyd, Logan Shaw and Keira Kisielewki won gold, silver and bronze respectively. Executive councillor for the environment, Tom Conn, who helped present the awards, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this year’s competition received more entries than previous years, proving how

Work leads to more play

A giant new piece of play equipment is aiming to get local youngsters climbing the walls. Local housing regeneration specialist Lovell and the Community Action Blackburn Trust have donated £3,500 each to buy a colourful three-dimensional Bloqx climbing wall for the play park in Ladeside Avenue, Blackburn.

Councillor Cartmill with local children

The striking part sculpture, part climbing wall replaces a previous facility, and is next to a development of ten new council houses, which were built by Lovell as part of the council’s ongoing programme to deliver more affordable homes for rent in West Lothian.

Councillor Harry Cartmill, Vice chair of the services for the community Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP), said: “The new facility is fantastic and I’d like to thank both Lovell and Community Action Blackburn for their generosity. “It is a significant investment from both groups and I’m sure that local people will love the new equipment. The new park certainly complements the new council housing in Ladeside Avenue.” Lovell regional director Alan Taylor said: “Our work with West Lothian Council is about making a positive impact on the area and that includes helping out with community facilities like this, as well as building new homes and creating jobs and training for local people. “We were delighted to get involved by providing funding for the play equipment. It looks great and already seems to be a success with young people in the area.”

popular this competition is after 35 years. The standard of entries was excellent and I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who took time to take part. “Gardens aren’t grown overnight and it takes a lot of time, effort and dedication to get a garden looking at its best.” This year’s competition was organised by Jillian Anderson and judged by Alan Agnew from West Lothian Council and George Gilchrist from Oatridge College. George Gilchrist added: “It was

encouraging to see the number of entries increase despite the poor weather. Low temperatures, high rainfall and extremely low light levels made this the most difficult gardening year in living memory. “Considering these three factors the standard of competition was very high and the judges would like to compliment all the medal winners on the high standards set by them despite the record breaking adverse weather conditions.”

Win A Great Family Day Out At Top Piping Event

ADVANCE TICKETS AVAILABLE

www .bpbc -bath gate.c om

West Lothian is set to host the EFR Scotland British Pipe Band Championships on Saturday, 25 May. Bathgate’s Meadow Park will welcome over 140 of the world’s top pipe bands in May, for what promises to be a great day out for the whole family and the chance to enjoy piping and drumming at its best. Family tickets will be on advance sale at a reduced rate of £22 for two adults and two children. The same tickets will cost £27 on the day, so local residents are encouraged to act fast to take advantage of the early discount. For more information or buy tickets, please visit www.bpbc-bathgate.com or call 01506 777666 / 01506 282720. To mark the event, Bulletin has teamed up with event organisers, West Lothian Highland Games committee, and Visit West Lothian to offer five family passes for lucky readers. To enter, please answer the following question:

• When are the British Pipe Band Championships coming to Bathgate? Please email your answer to bulletin@westlothian.gov.uk or send responses to British Pipe Band Championships competition, Corporate Communications, West Lothian Civic Centre, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 6FF. Entries must be received by Friday, 29 March. Remember to include your name, address and a daytime contact number so we can get in touch if you win.


P6 Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council

your 2013/14

Council Tax

westlothian.gov.uk

Dear Council Tax payer, West Lothian Council delivers a wide range of vital services for communities across West Lothian every day. Schools, social care, roads maintenance, libraries, community facilities and waste services are just some of the essential services we provide for local residents.

You must tell the Revenues Unit about any change that may affect the amount of Council Tax you have to pay. You must tell us within 21 days of the change. As we work to make our service easier to access for our customers we have developed smart E-Forms. You can do the following online:

n apply for a disabled person’s reduction; n apply for Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit; n tell us about a change in circumstances that affects your Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit; and n report a suspicion of fraud.

n tell us about a change of address; n tell us if you are entitled or no longer entitled to single person discount; n complete a direct debit instruction to pay your Council Tax;

More forms are becoming available all the time. To use our forms go to www.westlothian.gov.uk and click on online forms.

How we work out Council Tax The assessor, who works for the Lothian Valuation Joint Board, values your home and puts it into one of eight valuation bands from A to H. The value is based on how much your home was worth on the open market on 1 April 1991.

Once we know how much money we need to raise from Council Tax, we work out what someone living in a home in band D would have to pay. We then work out the Council Tax for the other bands by using the ‘multiplier’ set by the Scottish Government.

Appealing against a Council Tax band You can appeal against your Council Tax band to the assessor. You must continue to pay your Council Tax until the assessor has made a decision on your appeal. For more details, contact:

The Assessor for the Lothian Valuation Joint Board, 17A South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9FL. Phone: 0131 344 2500 website: www.saa.gov.uk

Charges for water and waste water Your Council Tax bill includes charges for water and waste-water services.The council collects these charges on behalf of Scottish Water. Scottish Water is responsible for setting these charges.The charges for water and waste-water are set separately. Scottish Water has increased its charges for combined water and waste water by 2.8% in 2013/14.

If you have any questions about the level of these charges, phone Scottish Water on 0845 601 8855. There is a reduction scheme to help some people on low incomes pay their water and waste-water charges. You do not need to apply for the reduction as it will automatically be shown in your bill.

ask any questions online direct to the council’s Revenues Unit. Electronic billing also reduces administration costs, is safe and easy to use and is a much ‘greener’ way to receive your bill, as less paper and delivery miles are used.

The economic climate has had an impact on everyone so this year I’m particularly delighted to confirm that, for a By paying Council Tax, you play year running the council decided there will be no anfourth extremely important role in helping pay for all these services You may find it easier to take increase in your council tax. I’m sure that in difficult and more. the these inconvenience out of paying your Council Tax, by doing Council Tax inthat West Lothian times this news will be welcomed bysohouseholders. by Direct Debit. For more continues to be frozen, and is still below the Scottish average. This has been achieved, in part, due to the council delivering services more efficiently.

Changes in your circumstances

position, we will continue to help our local communities through investing to meet your priorities. These include: maintaining teacher numbers in line with the numbers of pupils and continuing to ensure all pre-school pupils have access to a nursery teacher; improving payments for foster care families; expanding free breakfast clubs to all primary school pupils; and maintaining high quality care for the elderly.

Funding received from central government is increasing at less than the rate of inflation, which leaves the council facing a funding gap of around £14 million over the next two years. These savings will need to be found locally to balance the budget, with a range of measures including modernising services and reviewing the council’s charging structure. Despite the challenging financial

To make our services more accessible and more effective for customers, there are different ways to receive information on your Council Tax and pay your bills. For example, you can receive an electronic bill straight to your email inbox rather than a paper copy through the post, similar to the arrangement many people have for their bank statements, providing benefits for both you and the council.

information on paying your Council Tax, please visit www. westlothian.gov.uk or call 01506 776800.

West Lothian Council remains committed to delivering improved services for all local residents through effective and efficient use of our resources in the current challenging economic climate.

Councillor John McGinty, Leader of West Lothian Council.

You will receive your Council Tax bill quicker, and you can

2013/14 Council Tax and combined water charges Band

Value of the property

Multiplier to band D

Council Tax (£)

Combined water & waste water charges (£)

A

Up to £27,000

6/9

£752.00

£269.64

B

£27,001 to £35,000

7/9

£877.33

£314.58

C

£35,001 to £45,000

8/9

£1,002.67

£359.52

D

£45,001 to £58,000

9/9

£1,128.00

£404.46

E

£58,001 to £80,000

11/9

£1,378.67

£494.34

F

£80,001 to £106,000

13/9

£1,629.33

£584.22

G

£106,001 to £212,000

15/9

£1,880.00

£674.10

H

Over £212,000

18/9

£2,256.00

£808.92

Council Tax levels compared Our Council Tax in band D 2013/14

£1,128.00

Our Council Tax in band D 2012/13

£1,128.00

Scottish average Council Tax in band D 2012/13

£1,149.00

Who is responsible for paying Council Tax? The person highest on the list below is usually responsible for paying. n The owner who lives in the property. n The tenant who lives in the property. n The sub-tenant who lives in the property.

n Someone else who lives in the property. n The owner if nobody lives in the property. Couples who are married, living together as husband and wife or civil partners are responsible, jointly and individually, for paying Council

Tax even if their names are not on the bill. Joint owners or tenants are also responsible, jointly and individually, for paying the Council Tax even if their names are not on the bill.


Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council P7

westlothian.gov.uk

Appealing against who is responsible for paying Council Tax You can appeal against the decision that you are responsible for paying Council Tax.

Payments and missed payments Your bill shows you how much you must pay.

You must continue to pay your Council Tax until a decision has been made on your appeal.

We must receive your Council Tax payment on or before the payment date. If we don’t, we will ask you to make the missed payment within seven days. If you do not do this, you will lose your right to pay in instalments after another seven days.

Please write to: Revenues Manager Revenues Unit, St David House, South Bridge Street Bathgate EH48 1TT. email: CouncilTax@westlothian.gov.uk

The amount you owe for the rest of the year will then be due immediately and we will apply to the Sheriff Court for a‘summary warrant’, which allows us to collect the taxes you owe us. At this stage we will add costs of 10% of the amount you owe. If you are having difficulties paying your Council Tax, please call us now on 01506 776982 so that we can help.

Second homes and properties that have been empty for a long time

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction

If you have a second home or a property that has been empty and unfurnished for more than 12 months, you will receive a 10% Council Tax discount. This discount is only for your Council Tax charge. You will not get a 10% discount for your water and waste-water charges. A second home is a home that is not a main home and is furnished. Please note legislation is currently going through Parliament that may allow councils to vary the charge in respect of these properties.

You may be entitled to help with paying your Council Tax or rent (or both), depending on your income and circumstances. If you pay both Council Tax and rent, you need to fill in only one application form.

private landlord or housing association – the tenant or joint tenant of the property.

needs; or n to use a wheelchair in the home. If this is the case we will charge you the Council Tax for a band lower than your actual property band.

The chart below shows the various sources of funding for 2013/14

Funding our services

In 2013/14, we will receive £1,669 of grant for each person

n If you pay rent to the council,

Help for disabled customers You could pay less Council Tax if a disabled person lives in the home and requires: n an extra room to meet their needs; or n an extra bathroom to meet their

Our budget for 2013/14 is £362.285 million. The money that pays for our services comes from Scottish Government grant funding, National Non- Domestic Rates income and Council Tax.

Who can apply? n For Council Tax – the person responsible for paying the Council Tax bill.

who lives in our area, compared with the national average of £1,765. Scottish Government grants and non-domestic rates income provide 80% of our funding. We raise the rest of the money we need to fund services mostly from Council Tax.

19% Council Tax £68.689 million

57% General Revenue Funding from Scottish Government £207.365 million

Staff numbers Full time equivalents 6,620 January 2013 6,493 January 2012

22% National NonDomestic Rates £81.347 million

1% Other £4.884 million

Spending on our services The money we need to spend to provide services is set out in our yearly ‘revenue budget’. This budget relates to all services except housing, which is funded entirely from money we receive from rent. In 2013/14 we will spend £362.285 million, which is made up of the following

Gross spending: £377.874 million Less fees and charges: £15.589 million Net spending: £362.285 million

The budget sets out how much services can spend each year. The 2013/14 budget for each service is as follows

Net spending

Movement from the previous year

Percentage change from the previous year

Breakdown of Council Tax in band D

£million

£million

%

£

153.1

1.1

0.7

477

Community Health and Care Partnership and Social Policy

85.4

1.9

2.2

266

Corporate, Operational & Housing Services

72.2

2.3

3.2

225

Chief Executive / Finance and Estates

17.0

0.4

2.2

53

Police, Fire and Joint Valuation Boards

1.3

0.0

0.7

4

33.2

(2.4)

(7.2)

103

362.2

3.3

0.9

1,128

Education, Planning and Area Services

Non service expenditure (including Capital Charges)

Total

Discounts and exemptions You will get a discount on your Council Tax and water service charges if there is only one person aged 18 or over living in the property. When deciding how many adults live in a property, we do not count certain people.The most common examples of people we don’t count are as follows. n Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices. n People who have severe mental-health difficulties. n 18 and 19-year-olds who are at school or who have just left school. n Unpaid care workers who care for someone other than their partner or a child aged under 18. You may get an exemption on your Council Tax and water service charges if certain conditions exist. An ‘exemption’means you do not have to pay Council Tax .The following are the most common situations in which you don’t have to pay. n If nobody can live in the property because its structure is being repaired, improved or rebuilt.The exemption lasts for a maximum period of 12 months from the date someone last lived in the property. n If nobody is living in the property and there is no furniture.The exemption lasts up to six months from the date someone last lived in the property or the furniture was removed, whichever happens last. n If everyone living in the property is a student. If you receive a discount or exemption you must tell us within 21 days if your circumstances change.

Appeals You can appeal against the amount of Council Tax you have to pay because we have not awarded a discount, an exemption or a reduction. You must continue to pay your Council Tax until a decision has been made on your appeal.

For more information about Council Tax, please contact: The Revenues Unit, St David House, South Bridge Street, Bathgate,West Lothian, EH48 1TT. Phone: 01506 776800 Textphone: 01506 464427 (for people who are deaf or hard of hearing) Text: Text ‘CT’ and your message to 07624 802248 email: CouncilTax@westlothian.gov.uk Website: www.westlothian.gov.uk


Your 2013 / 14 and 2014/15

budget explained West Lothian Council has set its budget for the next two financial years which will see a total of £362.285 million being spent on providing services in 2013/14 and £362.626 million being spent in 2014/15. However, earlier this year, West Lothian Council also approved a series of additional programmes which will bring the total amount of spending to over £1 billion for the five year period 2013/14 to 2017/18. These are explained in more detail on page 9. Councillor John McGinty, Leader of West Lothian Council, explained: “Setting the budget for two years enables the council to develop a medium-term financial strategy which will deliver plans for the next two years and start to make plans for the following three years.

This will bring a degree of certainty to local people, community groups and staff. “I’m sure that local people will welcome the confirmation of a Council Tax freeze for the next two years. However, like every other local authority, West Lothian Council is facing challenging times. The council faces a funding gap of around £14 million over the next two years because the funding received from central government is increasing at less than the rate of inflation.

“The council will balance the budget by modernising services, sharing buildings, like the successful partnership centres, and raising more income through revised charges. Introducing new charges is not a decision the council has taken lightly but they aim to protect services and jobs. “We’ve highlighted a number of elements to the budget in this two page special feature. “Full details of West Lothian Council’s budgets are available online at www.westlothian.gov.uk.”

Here are some key elements for 2013/14 and 2014/15 Housing and garage rent Older and vulnerable people

Council Tax Council Tax will be frozen for 2013/14 and an indicative Council Tax freeze has been agreed for 2014/15.

Education and early years • •

Teacher numbers will be increased in line with an expected increase in pupils in West Lothian, and to ensure the current pupil/teacher ratio of 13.8 pupils to one teacher is maintained. £200,000 will be spent guaranteeing access to free breakfast clubs for all primary pupils, and for secondary school pupils with free meal entitlement.

• • •

The introduction of a new school swimming programme will be funded. The council will continue to ensure that all pre-school children have access to a nursery teacher. There will be a budget provision of £35,000 to help continue to provide free music tuition to the Saturday Strings.

• • • •

Council house rent will be frozen in 2013/14. There will be a freeze in garage rents in 2013/14. Service and support charges for Sheltered Housing and Homeless properties will be frozen in 2013/14. Rents and Service and Support charges for Homeless properties will be frozen for 2013/14.

There will be significant investment in adults and older people’s social care services due to a growing elderly population and an increasing number of complex packages.

• An increase of £395,000 will provide improved allowances for Foster Care Families in West Lothian with an increase of 15% in fees and 30% in allowances. • The Advice Shop will be expanded, as will the concessionary rail service.

Living wage •

A Living Wage of £7.50 will be introduced in 2013/14 which will apply to approximately 876 council staff.

Charges The council will be increasing the majority of charges by 3.5% although some may rise further. Some charges will increase to bring them in line with Scottish average council charges or other service providers in West Lothian. • • •

p8

A £1 charge for Telecare and community alarms for new clients – this will be the lowest of any council in Scotland which currently charge. New charges for Pest Control to recover just less than 50% of the cost of providing the service. A new Trade Waste Recycling Service to meet new waste regulations being introduced in 2014.

A question about charging was included in the Delivering Better Outcomes Consultation which was carried out between October and December 2012. People were asked for their views on the question: “Should the council consider increasing and introducing charges for some services as an alternative to reducing service provision and jobs?” - 62.6% of individuals, 57.9% of organisations and 74.2% of staff, agreed. The council will also carry out a comprehensive review of all aspects of concessions, including steps which can be taken to improve the take-up of concessions and to report back to the Partnership and resources PDSP and Council Executive this year.

Jobs and training •

An additional £436,000 will be spent on tackling unemployment through the council’s Steps N2 Work programme. This additional funding will allow the council to sustain the support it currently provides for wage subsidy programmes, the West Lothian Jobs Fund and the Modern Apprenticeship programme.

• •

Funding of £75,000 will support the War Veterans’ employability programme. There will be funding for the proposed Linlithgow Business Improvement District levy and an increase in the Bathgate Business Improvements Districts levy.


investment programme Your

for 2013/14 to 2017/18 explained An investment programme of almost £400 million has been unveiled for the five year period 2013/14 to 2017/18. £200 million will be allocated to projects such as schools, property, roads, open spaces and ICT (information communication technology). A further £197 million will be invested in key housing projects. Here are some key elements from the Asset Management Strategy and General Services Capital Programme 2013/14 to 2017/18. Roads and infrastructure:

£44 million will be invested to improve key infrastructure assets such as roads, street lighting, bridges and footways.

A £63.5 million schools investment programme benefiting schools and pupils across West Lothian. This will include:

Open Spaces and environment: • •

£4 million will be spent on open space and sports facilities across West Lothian. Over £2 million will go towards the replacement and renewal of various children’s play areas.

• • •

Beecraigs Visitor Centre will be renovated. Solar panels will be installed at various school and council buildings. Improvements will be made to community recycling centres.

• •

Nearly £4 million will be invested in council-owned open spaces and sports facilities. A programme of improving and maintaining council owned synthetic turf pitches.

Town Centres and local facilities • •

Over £6.5 million will go towards creating partnership centres at Blackburn, Whitburn, Winchburgh, East Calder, and Armadale. £900,000 will be spent creating a new sports pavilion in King George V Park, Whitburn.

• • •

£6.345 million will be invested to develop and improve a new housing-with-care facility at Rosemount Court, Bathgate. Refurbish Lowport Centre, Linlithgow and Stoneyburn Community Centres. A new sports pavilion for the Kirknewton community.

Schools:

• •

The creation of a new Boghall Community Wing at the local primary school. A significant investment in town centres and villages to improve the town centre environments and help to develop civic pride.

• A refurbished Beatlie School Campus, Craigshill. • The construction of a new primary school in Breich. • A refurbished and improved Pinewood School, Blackburn. • Improvements to Toronto Primary School, Livingston. • A £10 million renovation at West Calder High School, which will include new PE facilities. • New sports facilities at St Mary’s Primary School, Bathgate. • Ensuring every school in West Lothian is access-friendly to meet the needs of pupils with disabilities.

• Delivery of a new primary school for Armadale. • Extensions to Armadale Primary School, Balbardie Primary School (Bathgate) and Boghall Primary School. • Facilitating a new secondary school for Winchburgh and Calderwood, near East Calder, as their communities grow. • Extending Bathgate Academy to meet growing pupil numbers. • Extending East Calder Primary School and Parkhead Primary School, West Calder. • Developing a new multi-use games area at Windyknowe Primary, Bathgate.

£197 million council housing boost A Housing Capital Programme for 2013/14 to 2017/18 of £197 million has been approved by West Lothian Council. The key investment priorities are: • A new build council housing programme which will deliver 1,000 additional new council houses, with some housing being built in each of the nine council wards. • Ensuring the Scottish Housing Quality Standard is achieved by 2015.

• Investing in environmental improvements. • Continuing the central heating upgrade programme and energy efficiency improvements.

Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul, said: "The proposed investment of £197 million underlines the council’s commitment to providing the best possible council housing stock for tenants. The programme will also enable the council to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015."

p9


i

p10

Understanding benefit changes You may have heard that the UK Government is introducing a number of big changes to how benefits are paid through its Welfare Reform programme. The key changes are summarised for you below. West Lothian Council is committed to helping you to understand the benefit changes. The council has set up a Welfare Reform Group, which has developed an action plan to cope with the changes, assess the potential impact on people who will be directly affected and offer advice on how people can prepare for the changes. If you or a family member receives benefits it is vital that you understand the changes and what they could mean for you. However, pensioners are unlikely to be affected at this time.

Executive councillor for social policy Danny Logue commented: “Over the coming months the UK Government is making major changes to the benefits system. “West Lothian Council is committed to helping local people understand these changes and the impact that they may have. “Please use the contact details on page 12 to ask for advice on your own situation. More information is also available on the council’s website www.westlothian.gov.uk/ welfarereform. We will also provide you with more updates on the benefit changes in the summer edition of Bulletin.”

i Housing Benefit and under occupancy 2013

April

From April 2013, working age households will be required to claim Housing Benefit based on the number of bedrooms in the house and the number of people living there.

For example, if you live alone but have two bedrooms you will be considered to have an extra bedroom and you will need to pay for the extra room. If you have one additional bedroom your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of your rent. If you have two or more extra bedrooms your benefit will be reduced by 25% of your rent. In both cases you will have to make up the difference yourself. The rules already apply to privately rented houses.

Case study

Sally J (53) lives alone in a three bedroom council house since her two children have grown up and left home. Sally has severe arthritis and claims Employment and Support Allowance, her rent is £300 per month and at present this is fully funded by Housing Benefit. However, from April the new under occupancy rules will mean that Sally will lose 25% of her Housing Benefit as she is considered to have two extra bedrooms and she will have to pay £75 per month towards her rent. Sally is currently talking to the council about her options.

i Benefit Cap The UK Government is currently testing a limit on the amount of benefits (Benefit Cap) that can be claimed by working age households in four areas of London. This means that the amount of benefits a household can receive will be limited (or capped) at £500 per week for couples (with or without children) and single parents with children; and £350 per week for single people. The cap will be applied through a deduction to Housing Benefit. The London pilot will be completed in September 2013.

Look out for more information on the Benefit Cap in the summer edition of Bulletin due out in June.

If you are a council tenant and think that you could be affected by this change, contact your local housing office or call 01506 280000. If you are a tenant of a Housing Association contact your landlord who will be able to advise you.

Find out more about the changes to the UK benefits system on the next two pages.


i Non-dependant deductions

p11

The non-dependant deductions to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit were frozen in 2001. In June 2010, the Government announced they will increase the level of non-dependant deductions in April 2011, 2012 and 2013. This is to increase them in line with what they would have been had they not been frozen. The amount of deductions made is dependent on the circumstances of your household, to find out how you may be affected call 01506 280000, visit your local council Customer Information Services (CIS) centre or visit www.westlothian.gov.uk for more advice and information. Examples include: a grown up son or daughter or a friend who lives with you. This does not include your partner or younger children who live with you. A non-dependant deduction is taken from your Housing or Council Tax Benefit. A deduction does not apply to everyone, certain people are exempt including: full time students, nondependants who are in prison, non-dependants who have been in hospital for over 52 weeks, households where the person claiming Housing and Council Tax Benefit (or their partner) receives any rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance. This list is not exhaustive.

Universal i Personal Independence Credit (UC) Payments (PIP) 2013

June

2013

From June 2013,

PIP will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for all new claims for people who are aged 16 to 64. To qualify for these payments, it is likely that you will have to attend a medical assessment.

Case study Following a benefit check Susan R (50) realised that the benefit change will mean she will be £50 a week worse off. Susan lives in a housing association tenancy with her 20-year-old daughter who works 25 hours a week earning £145. Susan receives

2013

Oct

Oct

2015

From October 2013,

anyone claiming DLA who reports a change in their circumstances will be reassessed for Personal Independence Payments. The Department for Work and Pensions will also start contacting people who are reaching the end of a fixed period DLA award and young people who are turning 16 years of age.

Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance low rate care component, which means that she receives a full rent and Council Tax benefit. In the Personal Independence Payment there is no low rate care component.

Oct

From October 2015,

everyone who is in receipt of a DLA award will be invited to claim a Personal Independence Payment.

Susan will lose £20.55 DLA, she will also be charged non-dependant deductions on her Housing and Council Tax Benefit based on her daughter’s earnings - £26.25 Housing Benefit and £3.30 Council Tax benefit per week - an overall loss of income of £50.10 per week.

From October 2013, if you receive DLA and your circumstances have changed, or if your award is due for renewal, you will have to apply for PIP instead.

You can take someone with you to your medical assessment. If you have no-one who can go with you, you can contact the West Lothian Advice Shop to discuss their Volunteer Scheme.

Visit West Lothian Council’s YouTube channel for information on how the UK’s changes to the benefits system will affect people in West Lothian: www.youtube.com/user/ westlothianvideos

i

This new benefit will initially be introduced in a number of localities and then rolled out across the UK. At this point we expect the introduction of Universal Credit for claimants in West Lothian to take place around April 2014 - this will be confirmed later in the year. It will replace the following benefits for all new claimants. • Child tax credit • Housing Benefit • Income-related employment and support allowance

• Income-based job seekers allowance • Income support and working tax credit Universal Credit will be paid monthly to one person in the household and will include an amount for your housing costs. This means that if you receive Universal Credit you will be responsible for paying your monthly rent to your landlord and you will need to make sure that you plan for this in your monthly budget.

If you do not have a bank account then you should try to open one as it will make it easier to pay your bills. Universal Credit will not replace Attendance Allowance, Bereavement Benefits, Carer’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Contributory Based Employment and Support Allowance, Contributory Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Maternity Allowance, Pension Credit, Statutory Maternity Payment, Statutory Sick Pay and War Pension.

Scan this QR code with your smartphone to access the video on YouTube


p12

i Scottish Welfare Fund 2013

April

From April 2013 West Lothian Council will manage Crisis and Community Care Grants through the Scottish Welfare Fund. More information about the arrangements for accessing the Scottish Welfare Fund in West Lothian will be available in March.

The Department for Work and Pensions will continue to deal with payments such as Maternity Grants, Funeral Payments, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments.

i Council Tax Reduction Scheme(CTRS) 2013

April

i

The UK Government is abolishing Council Tax Benefit at the end of March 2013. From April 2013 - in Scotland - it is replaced by a new Council Tax Reduction scheme which helps people on low incomes with their Council Tax bills. For the first year, 2013/14, the new scheme will aim to be as similar to the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme as possible, with no-one losing out unless their circumstances change.

Steps to take now Adjusting to the new benefits system will be hard for some people. Here are a few steps that you can take now to help get ready: 1 Find out what Welfare Reform means for you – if in doubt ask. 2 If you are going to have less money each week consider what you can do to reduce your spending or make up the difference.

3 Keep a note of what you are spending so that you can plan your budget. 4 If you don’t have a bank account - set one up now. 5 Arrange to pay your bills by direct debit. 6 If you are finding it difficult to pay your bills ask for help. 7 Payday loans, doorstep lenders and instant online loans are expensive. Contact West Lothian Credit Union or West Lothian Advice Shop first to discuss your options. Speak to someone if you need help understanding the changes.

Please see below for more information on the help and advice available.

Help and advice is available

There are lots of people who are ready, willing and able to help you through the benefit changes, whether you need support with understanding what welfare reform means for you and your family, challenging a decision, help with finding a job, training, or you need someone to talk to. The changes are complicated so please speak to someone soon.

West Lothian Council Visit your local council Customer Information Services (CIS) centre or,

Call: 01506 280000 Email: customer.service@westlothian.gov.uk Visit: www.westlothian.gov.uk/welfarereform Text phone: 18001 01506 651115

West Lothian Advice Shop, Bathgate

Partnership Centre, Bathgate Call: 01506 283000 Email: advice.shop@westlothian.gov.uk Visit: www.westlothian.gov.uk/adviceshop

Access2employment

Call: 0800 0329768 (freephone) Email: access2employment@westlothian.gov.uk Visit: www.westlothian.gov.uk

Adult Basic Education, West Lothian, Bathgate Partnership Centre, Bathgate Call: 0800 731 1831 (freephone) Email: info@abeonline.org.uk Visit: www.abeonline.org.uk

Blackburn, Seafield and District Credit Union

Voluntary Sector Gateway

Call: 01506 650198 Visit: www.bsdcreditunion.co.uk

Call: 01506 650111 Email: vsg@vsgwl.org Visit: www.voluntarysectorgateway.org

Capital Credit Union

West Lothian College

Call: 0845 6349901 Visit: www.capitalcreditunion.com

Citizens Advice Bureau

Call: 01506 418181 Email: enquiries@west-lothian.ac.uk Visit: www.west-lothian.ac.uk

Call: Advice Line 01506 432977, Appointment Line: 01506 431061 Email: enquiries@cabwestlothian.org.uk Visit: www.cabwestllothian.org.uk

West Lothian Credit Union

Disability West Lothian

Breathing Space

Call: 01506 436666 Email: info@westlothiancreditunion.co.uk Visit: www.westlothiancreditunion.co.uk

Call: 0800 7831 824 (freephone), text phone Call: 0800 838 587 01506 774044 Visit: www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk Email: enquiries@dwl.demon.co.uk Visit: www.dwl.demon.co.uk/disabilitywl.html Please note the information in this feature is correct at the time of going to print. However the situation is changing constantly, please check the council’s website for the most up to date information: www.westlothian.gov.uk/welfarereform


P13 Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council

westlothian.gov.uk

Focus on equality

A new set of priorities has been identified to focus on promoting equality in West Lothian.

LISA to support local families A new service has been launched to tackle domestic abuse issues in West Lothian. Recently launched LISA (Living In Safe Accommodation) aims to support adults and children in West Lothian who are experiencing domestic abuse. The new model aims to move the focus away from crisis intervention to prioritise early intervention, reduce trauma, prevent homelessness, and enable economic independence. Chair of West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP), Councillor Frank Toner, said: “Abuse can take on many forms - physical, sexual and psychological violence which

occurs in the family, the general community or in institutions. “LISA aims to help those experiencing any kind of abuse to realise they have choices, that they’re not alone, and that the service can help them to be safe. The service provides confidential, friendly and trust-worthy longterm support, including assistance with accommodation, training, employment and advocacy.” Anne McMillan, Executive councillor for health and care added: “I urge anyone affected to act now and get in touch with LISA.”

Detective Inspector Matt Paden, said: “Lothian and Borders Police, in partnership with West Lothian CHCP, are happy to support LISA. “We are committed to tackling Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault and we work on a daily basis with our partners in the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team to provide a complete service to those affected by these crimes.” Call LISA on 01506 281055 or email dasat@westlothian.gov. uk, 9am-5pm. In an emergency situation, please call the police on 999.

many faces

many stories all survivors... like you

You’re not alone

The Public Sector Equality Duty for Scotland, which came into force in May last year, requires the council to identify its priorities for promoting equality both within its own workforce and amongst the wider community. Working directly with a wide range of community groups and organisations including Disability West Lothian, the Community Race Forum and Carers of West Lothian, ten key outcomes have been identified locally, focusing council efforts on issues such as raising awareness about the impact of hate crime, supporting independent living for people with disabilities and supporting efforts on tackling violence against women.

Councillor Angela Moohan, who represents the council on the Board of the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, said: “We very much welcome the focus on priorities which the implementation of the Public Sector Equality Duty brings. “By listening to the priorities of our community and taking account of persistent inequalities in society, we hope to improve the lived experience for those affected by discrimination and inequality.” Subject to formal approval, the outcomes will be published in 2013 and the implementation of the outcomes will run for a four year period to 2017.

Does your partner or ex-partner make you feel afraid, try to control who you see, where you go, what you wear? You have choices. Contact LISA (Living in Safe Accommodation) for confidential and friendly support LISA is a support service for all adults and children experiencing domestic abuse Call us now on 01506 281055 or email dasat@westlothian.gov.uk (9am-5pm). In an emergency, please call the police on 999.

westlothianchcp.org.uk West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership


P14 Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council

westlothian.gov.uk

Flood defences complete A £1.78 million investment aims to protect a West Lothian community from flooding. The key flood protection project in Broxburn has been completed at the confluence of the Brox Burn, Caw Burn and Liggat Syke. The works were necessary because the area is naturally low-lying and has a long history of flooding, with the most recent in August 2008 being particularly devastating and causing an estimated £2.5 million of damage. Leader of West Lothian Council John McGinty, said: “I’m particularly pleased that one of West Lothian’s most susceptible areas now has measures in place that will significantly reduce the risk of flooding, allowing local people to get on with their lives. “I would also like to thank Burnside Flood Action Group for its invaluable input during the whole process and thank the

residents for their patience and cooperation throughout.” Two road bridges crossing the Brox Burn and the Caw Burn have been replaced with new structures which will allow more water to flow beneath them. An extensive flood defence wall has been constructed along the back of properties in Burnvale and Newhouses Road and an embankment has been formed at the top of Burnvale. The project was designed by Halcrow Group and built by civil engineering contractor, Raynesway Construction. Residents of East Burnside joined contractors and council representatives to celebrate the completion of works, which were funded by West Lothian Council and the Scottish Government.

East Burnside residents and council staff wth the new flood defences

Author Colin Williamson with local children

Spread the word of Book Week Success The first ever Book Week Scotland has proved a bestseller with West Lothian residents. Libraries across West Lothian took part in Book Week Scotland recently, a national celebration of reading, encouraging people of all ages and interests to read more. A wide range of free events took place across the area, with a good response from local residents. Popular events included the launch of Book Week in West Lothian with local author and storyteller Colin Williamson, where he entranced over 60 children with his spellbinding performance with puppets at Broxburn library. The Scottish-themed Big Day Oot at the Simpson Library in Bathgate Partnership Centre featured Scots poetry, music, theatre, fancy dress and much more. Highlights

Connect to council information

More households than ever can access council information online, without the need for a pc, if they are connected to the internet via their mobile, tablet, games consoles and smart TVs.

Visit the council’s website www.westlothian.gov.uk to access a wide range of information, pay for and order services, or contact us via email: customer.service@westlothian. gov.uk People with mobile devices may prefer to access information via their mobile phone. Last year the council launched a free App for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users – search the App store for West Lothian.

Information from West Lothian Council is now also available for Android and iPhone devices on the Big Local App (BLA) which is free to download. The council’s portal on the BLA includes a range of information, including: winter; West Lothian Advice Shop; Blue Badges; household waste and recycling; libraries; foster carers; and school term dates. To download to Android devices go to Google Play and search for Big Local App West Lothian.

To download the App for iPhones, iPad and iPod Touch, go to the App store and search for West Lothian. If you have access to email you can sign up for the weekly E-Bulletin which brings news to your inbox weekly and the eAlert which will allow us to contact you in the event of significant disruption to services. To sign up visit: www.westlothian.gov.uk/email

included around 30 children involved in the Reading Hour with renowned Scots language novelist and poet, Matthew Fitt. Other author visits included Victoria Campbell and Marianne Wheelaghan with a range of other events including Bookbug and Reading Hour sessions for children at libraries across West Lothian; and a murder mystery event in the Lanthorn Library in Livingston. Council Leader John McGinty said: “I’m pleased that Scottish Book Week proved popular with local residents. It’s great to see people taking an interest in literature and learning. “Ensuring local residents develop their literacy and numeracy skills

is a key priority for the council, and we welcome initiatives like Scottish Book Week, which helps highlight the positive benefit of reading. “With a number of events for children in particular, I hope it has inspired our young people to read more, as it’s a pastime which is both enjoyable and educational. “Books can help expand your vocabulary or knowledge, give you an insight into cultures or inspire your imagination and so much more.” Book Week Scotland was delivered by Scottish Book Trust, the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland, on behalf of Creative Scotland.

Citizens hold the key on life survey

The West Lothian Citizens’ Panel is currently recruiting new members. Almost 3,000 residents in West Lothian are currently members of the county’s Citizens’ Panel, which was set up to help identify people’s views on various aspects relating to living in West Lothian. The Citizens' Panel gives residents an opportunity to feedback on a range of services that are delivered in West Lothian, as well as giving their views on key issues and topics. Over the coming weeks a significant number of local householders will be invited to volunteer for the panel. Individuals are randomly selected and will receive a questionnaire which they should complete with information about themselves. Inviting new people onto the panel ensures that more people have the opportunity to participate. Every effort is made to make sure that the panel is as representative of the West Lothian population as possible – like a ‘mini-West Lothian’, and those selected to join will be notified.

The West Lothian Citizens’ Panel is supported by the Community Planning Partnership – a partnership of 17 organisations and agencies who work together to provide services in West Lothian. West Lothian Council, NHS Lothian, Lothian and Borders Police, Lothian and Borders Fire Service, West Lothian College and the Voluntary Sector are all notable members. For more information, please contact Research Resource on 0141 641 6410 or email info@ researchresource.co.uk

Quality of Life Survey: The major activity of the panel is the Quality of Life Survey which is carried out every three years. The next survey will be carried out in April 2013. Both new and existing members of the Citizens’ Panel will be invited to take part in this Quality of Life Survey.


Bulletin : the newspaper of West Lothian Council P15

westlothian.gov.uk Council staff and partners celebrate the opening of the new garden

News in brief Shopping the criminals A new Shop Watch scheme aims to act as a positive deterrent to crime in Broxburn and Uphall. Broxburn and Uphall Traders’ Association, Lothian and Borders Police and West Lothian Council have teamed up to boost security for retailers in the towns, with grants available for security improvements such as alarm systems and CCTV.

Going green West Lothian Council has signed the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Local Authority Concordat. The CSGN is intended to deliver ‘a step change in environmental quality, woodland cover and recreational opportunities’.

Watch and learn Kirknewton Development Trust and Community Police have joined together to update Neighbourhood Watch for the village. A total of 70 households have joined the system of information sharing and residents can now receive information and advice direct, via email, from

Community Safety Unit partners. To join up, visit: www. neighbourhoodwatchscotland. co.uk and click on ‘Join’ button.

Keep it green Council Environmental Officers and Lothian and Borders Police will be focusing on tackling dog fouling across West Lothian in 2013. The joint partnership will carry out educational work within the primary schools, joint patrols and issue fixed penalty notices to offenders. For more information, please contact PC Jarvie on 01506 445671.

First Fairtrade Day West Lothian was set to celebrate its first Fairtrade Day on Friday, 1 March. The day aimed to be the focus of local events during Fairtrade Fortnight, to promote the use of ethically produced goods locally. A new online directory of local retailers and cafes who stock Fairtrade goods was launched. For more information, please visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/ fairtrade

New family garden in bloom

A striking new play area and garden has been unveiled at Strathbrock Family Unit in Broxburn.

The area has been transformed into an exciting and safe play area for children who use Strathbrock Family Unit and the bungalow facility, which is owned by West Lothian Council and run by Barnardo’s for respite care. The facilities provide short overnight breaks from caring, for families of children and young people with a learning disability, physical disability and complex needs. In addition to being an attractive garden, the play area is fully accessible to children with physical and learning disabilities. The project was unique in that it was a partnership between council services and the private sector.

Householders will be given a small internal caddy to collect their food waste in and a small external lockable caddy which will be collected weekly from the kerbside. The containers will be collected by a separate vehicle dedicated to food waste. The types of food waste which can be included are eggs and dairy produce, meat and bones, fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes, rice, beans and pasta, fish, tea bags and coffee grounds. This includes both cooked and uncooked food, so you can dispose of food scraps as well as foods that are out of date (without packaging).

Full instructions will be delivered to the households involved over the coming months. Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn said: “Each year the average Scottish household throws away around £430 of food. The weekly food waste recycling scheme will help families see exactly what is being wasted and should help them to cut food waste, save money and be kinder to the environment. “When it is introduced we hope that, with the help of the public, this new weekly service will reduce the amount of food waste which is sent to landfill.”

The new play area and garden look absolutely tremendous. “Looking to the future, we all know the facility here is of great value to the community and will continue to deliver a much needed essential service. I’m sure those families staying at the facility will enjoy the garden and play area.” Council apprentices provided the labour to lay out the area and installed most of the equipment. The work on the play area was a key component of their college portfolios and they will continue to maintain the play area and equipment.

i v i L n o r a Ro e e r f r o f s Lion

A new food waste collection scheme is set to be launched to 20,000 households in West Lothian this year. Parts of Bathgate, Boghall, Broxburn, Uphall, Dechmont and Linlithgow are set to take part in a new scheme to encourage the recycling of unwanted food.

West Lothian Council spent £36,000 on the facility and Livingston-based The Play Practice undertook the design work at no cost and sourced equipment. West Lothian Council Leader John McGinty officially opened the garden, and was joined by representatives from Barnardo’s, The Play Practice, West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership and representatives from council service areas who contributed to the development of the play area. Councillor McGinty said: “I would like to acknowledge the work of all those who have contributed to the success of this new area.

The new collection has been made possible thanks to funding from Zero Waste Scotland. The council has to comply with the Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which say that the process of collecting food waste from households which are eligible should be started in 2013 with a collection service for the whole area by January 2016. The weekly collection scheme will ensure that the new system is managed in the most sustainable and cost effective manner. The food waste will be composted, which supports the council’s goal of reducing landfill.

More information is available on the council’s website: www.westlothian.gov.uk/recycling

ming o c p u n a r o f ickets Win family t game C F n o t s g in Liv

Bulletin has teamed up with Livingston Football Club to offer two lucky local families the chance to see West Lothian’s only senior football team for free. There are two sets of family tickets up for grabs, which give free entry to Livingston’s Braidwood Motor Company stadium in Almondvale for a 2013 home league game of your choice. This includes tickets for two adults and two children, as well as free lounge access and half-time refreshments. Livingston has drawn plaudits for their attractive brand of attacking football this season, under Director of Football John Collins and Manager Gareth Evans. Our competition is a great chance to show your support for the local team, and enjoy an entertaining Scottish football fixture.

To enter our prize draw, just answer the following question: • What is the name of Livingston FC’s Director of Football? Please email your answer to bulletin@westlothian.gov.uk or send responses to Livingston FC Competition, Corporate Communications, West Lothian Civic Centre, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 6FF. Entries must be received by Friday, 29 March, and remember to include your name, address and a daytime contact number so we can get in touch if you are a winner. Livingston Football Club, 01506 417000, www.livingstonfc.co.uk www.facebook.com/livifcofficial, Twitter: @livifcofficial


sports

Easter fun @ Xcite

(DW

Xcite ZLWK$PDQGD+DPLOWRQ

Xcite have joined forces with TV presenter and nutritionist Amanda Hamilton to encourage the community of West Lothian to ‘Eat Xcite’. Amanda is one of the UK’s most recognised personalities in health and wellbeing. She is regularly seen on television and is resident nutritionist for ITV’s This Morning programme.

Xcite’s extensive N-R-G programme runs from 1 - 12 April and there are activities for all age groups. Due to popular demand, parents are advised to book well in advance.

Amanda Hamilton is one of the country’s top nutritionists.

The Eat Xcite project will provide Xcite customers with an insight into healthy eating. Whether their goal is to lose weight or improve sport performance, customers will have Amanda’s expert advice and knowledge at their fingertips. Customers can now download advice sheets on Xcite’s website. This exciting project aims to develop into full eating plans that anyone can subscribe to, along with ‘Eat Xcite’

classes available on a regular basis at Xcite venues. Xcite staff will be on hand to offer advice, support and will have direct consultation with Amanda. Their aim is to help gear customers to taking the right step forward in their eating plan as well as achieving their fitness goals. Robin Strang, Xcite’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We are delighted to launch this innovative partnership between Amanda Hamilton and Xcite.

“Together we aim to provide real and lasting healthy eating information for our customers to complement their physical activity programmes, whether their aim is weight control, training for sport or simply to feel better.” Visit Eat Xcite now for more info @ www.westlothianleisure.com

The new Xcite Whitburn will be re-opening its doors this Spring. The much missed community hub will include a 25 metre deck level pool, sauna, steam room, gym, fitness class studio, spin studio and softplay area. Xcite Whitburn has now opened its waiting lists for the following kids activities:

• Learn 2 Swim, 1-2-1 Swim Lessons, N-R-G Gymnastics, N-R-Getix, Rookie Lifeguard, Rookie Snorkel, and Aquajets. Customers can also book up a fantastic Pool or Aquajet Birthday Party available from June 2013.

in association with

For more information visit www.westlothianleisure.com or to book, speak to a member of the Whitburn team on 01501 749478 .

The N-R-G range includes water fun, sports coaching and games, play, arts and crafts, gym sessions for teenagers and lots more. Not only will N-R-G help keep your child healthy, but will enable them to socialise with kids their own age and enjoy their favourite activity. In addition to the normal Easter programme, Xcite Bathgate will be running their popular Holiday Activity Camp (8 - 12 April) where kids can be booked in for full or half days. The camp is provided by dedicated, qualified coaches and staff, with lots of different sports for kids to partake in. Your child will have the best possible experience, make new friends and have bags of fun. N-R-G sessions are £3.50 for payper-visit, the majority of activities

are included for FREE in Xcite’s N-R-G membership. N-R-G membership: • N-R-G Plus - £12.50 per month • N-R-G Single - £18 per month N-R-G Plus is only available when attached to an Xcite Adult membership. Some activities may be required to be pre-paid and booked. To avoid disappointment book now. The Easter Holiday Activity Camp is not included in N-R-G Membership: • half-day session - £12.50 • full-day session - £24.50 • five days Monday - Friday, 9am -5pm - £110.25 for non-members and £85.75 for N-R-G members. Terms and conditions apply. Please pre-book all sessions.

Xcite, in conjunction with West Lothian Council, run FREE swimming for West Lothian kids aged under 16 years during the Easter break. Free sessions are available Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm at Xcite Armadale, Bathgate, Broxburn, Linlithgow and Livingston. Check our website www.westlothianleisure.com or contact Xcite venues for further details. Terms and conditions apply. All activities are subject to availability.

Information is available in Braille, tape, large print and community languages. Please contact the interpretation and translation service on 01506 280000. Text phones offer the opportunity for people with a hearing impairment to access the council. The text phone number is18001 01506 464427. A loop system is also available in all offices. Published by West Lothian Council.

XciteVENUES

Xcite Armadale T: 01501 678520 Xcite Bathgate T: 01506 776790 Xcite Broxburn Swimming Pool T: 01506 775680 Xcite Broxburn Sports Centre T: 01506 775690 Xcite Craigswood T: 01506 775870 Xcite East Calder T: 01506 883340 Xcite Fauldhouse T: 01501 770345 Xcite Linlithgow T: 01506 775440 Xcite Livingston T: 01506 777870

www.westlothianleisure.com

Bulletin issue 66 - Spring edition  

Bulletin - West Lothian Council newsletter for residents of West Lothian.