Page 1

Newsletter for the employees of West Lothian Council

ISSUE 93 September 2013

Be Inspired!

Council staff get set for Glasgow 2014 games Contact Centre move • Welfare Reform • Celebrating Success


GIS update The council’s new corporate Geographic Information System (GIS) for storing and manipulating geographical information has now been installed.

Chief Executive’s column I hope you all had a good summer and made the most of our recent spell of sunny weather. Firstly, I would like to welcome a number of new faces to the council, with our recent intake of apprentices and probationer teachers, as featured on pages 6 and 12 respectively in this edition of Inside News. I firmly believe that West Lothian Council is an excellent place to work with a strong track record of encouraging employee development, and I hope you will make the most of the opportunity to develop in West Lothian. With Celebrating Success fast approaching, we look to reward the teams whose innovative work has made a real difference to the people of West Lothian. I’m always impressed by the work going on

The system will enable us to consolidate all of the existing internal systems into a single Corporate GIS system and the initial training of the project team has been completed.

will be rolled out to include Property Services, School Catchment and Planning Applications.

When the system is fully operational, our customers will benefit from improved self-service access through a map-based route to source information and log enquiries.

Later this month the team will start to demonstrate the new GIS application to other services and start reviewing any new requirements especially of teams with limited or no GIS usage.

The first service to use the GIS will be Roads Adoption. If this is successful, it

For more information contact Stewart MacDougall, tel: 01506 281489.

Partners sign up to tackle inequality A new plan aims to improve outcomes for everyone who lives, works and does business in West Lothian. The West Lothian Community Planning Partnership has set out a new ten-year plan on how it aims to tackle inequality locally. Called ’Achieving Positive Outcomes’, the plan is part of the Single Outcome Agreement (SOA) which outlines how we will achieve the 15 national outcomes set by the Scottish Government. A special event took place in West Lothian Civic Centre recently, for all the organisations involved to sign the agreement. All 32 Community Planning Partnerships in Scotland have to develop and submit a SOA to the Scottish Government, with West Lothian’s

all over the council to improve the way we deliver services, and the event is a great chance to recognise achievement and showcase work to colleagues from other

Community Planning Development Manager Lorraine Gillies said: “Submitting our ’Achieving Positive Outcomes’ SOA plan to the Scottish Government is a significant step for the West Lothian Community Planning Partners, with the council playing a key role in this. “Eight local outcomes have been set, based on a robust evidence base, and will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure we respond to changing circumstances. In essence, everyone will work towards the outcomes in this high-level plan, and will contribute to helping us meet the outcomes. “Many staff from the council and other partners will be involved in monitoring and managing the performance information, so we will be making sure that staff are given as much information as possible to help them understand the SOA and its aims.”

service areas. My ongoing visits to a number of service areas have given me the chance to meet a number of colleagues, and learn more details about their roles in delivering services. The visits have been both enjoyable and informative, and I look forward to meeting more of you in these visits over the coming months.

Graham Hope Graham Hope Chief Executive Chief Executive

based on eight local outcomes, which were identified through a rigorous process of data collection and analysis, to enable us to fully understand the needs of our communities.

Depute Chief Executive Jim Forrest

West Lothian Community Planning Partnership was established in 1999 and consists of sixteen partner organisations: West Lothian Council, NHS Lothian, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian, West Lothian College, Oatridge College, Scottish Enterprise, West Lothian Chamber of Commerce, Scottish Water, Association of Community Councils, JobCentreplus, West Lothian Leisure, West Lothian Youth Congress, Skills Development Scotland and SESTRANs.

Sound of service Two Customer Service Centre staff members have been unveiled as the new voices of the council. CSC Trainer Alison Bell and Careline Adviser Chris Sefton have been selected to be the voices in the automated messages customers hear when they contact the council’s Customer Service Centre (CSC). They were chosen by representatives from the council and Tenants Panel. Alison’s voice can be heard welcoming customers who contact the council, while Chris’ voice features on the messages on the council’s Payments Line. Alison, who has worked with the council for five years, said: “I put my name forward for this, along with other colleagues but I didn’t think I would be picked. I am very flattered to have been chosen to be the voice that welcomes customers to the council.”

Alison Bell and Chris Sefton

Chris, who joined the council four years ago, added: “I was pleased and surprised when I found out my voice was chosen. I was a bit apprehensive at first, as it’s my voice talking about money after all, but I’m happy to help in whatever way I can.”

We’ve got your number! Customer Service Centre celebrate new office with new phone number. The council’s Customer Service Centre (CSC) has successfully moved to the Civic Centre from Lomond House. CSC staff, including Careline workers, are now based in the first and second floor rooms at the east end of the Civic Centre’s South wing. The move marks the official change to 01506 280000 for general council enquiries, replacing the previous 01506 775000, with all services advised to start using the new number. Customer Service Centre Co-ordinator, Anna Brash said: “We are delighted to finally move to the Civic Centre and already we are strengthening our relationships with our colleagues within the Civic Centre. The move will allow us to make better use of the technology, improve our customers’ journey and ultimately benefiting our customers, stakeholders and partners.” Steve Field, Head of Area Services, added: “I am really pleased to welcome the CSC staff to the Civic Centre. The move is part of our Customer Services Strategy, designed to make it easier for our customers to interact with us. Having the CSC within the heart of the building reinforces the significant role it plays in the interface between our customers and services. “

Work to start on Linlithgow Partnership Centre Council services at County Buildings, Linlithgow, prepare to move out to allow work to start on building redevelopment. When completed, residents in the Linlithgow area will benefit from a new partnership centre which will incorporate a range of new and improved council and community services. Plans include: n Relocating Linlithgow Library from The Vennel into the ground floor of the new Partnership Centre. n Decorating the new library and reception area so that it is vibrant and welcoming. n Turning the reception area into a joint council Customer Information Services (CIS) centre/Library/ Reception area where all customer enquiries will be handled. n Creating new meeting space for community groups to use. n Moving the Local History Library, which is currently located in the reception area, into the historic Dalyell Suite complete with dedicated research space, quiet areas for study and museum displays. n Significantly upgrading the public toilet facilities. n Improving the general layout of the interior. n Installing a new public lift. Staff email addresses and telephone numbers will not be affected during the move, and the decant arrangements are available on the council intranet. Please note that from Friday 20 September, County Building meeting rooms and Worksmart desks will not be available, and the general pool cars will be relocated to Lomond House.

9 3

Raphael Dunbar and George Downey

New Korean War memorial opens A new memorial to those who died in the Korean War has been officially unveiled in West Lothian The memorial in the Bathgate Hills is the only one in the UK which lists the names of all 1,106 servicemen who died in the Korean War. Council staff played a big part in ensuring the project reached the final stage, with Cemeteries Officer George Downey taking a major role in delivering the memorial as secretary of the Korean War Memorial Trust. George said: “It has been a major project to deliver the new Korean War memorial.

Everyone has been very positive about it, with the new memorial an appropriate addition to the scenic location.” Council apprentices played a pivotal part in the erection of the pagoda-style structure, which marks the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended the Korean War. Apprentices Darren Moore, Jonathan Young and Gary Todd worked closely with a specialist tiler, flown in from South Korea specially to work on the project.

Caring approach Support at Home Services to launch

Council architect Raphael Dunbar designed the memorial to resemble a traditional Korean pagoda incorporating elements of Scotland a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn a very unique skill. Raphael said: “I really enjoyed the challenge of designing the memorial. It’s a real honour to have worked on a special project like this, to create a fitting memorial in tribute to those who fell in the conflict.” Russell Tierney

Tree marks 30 years of Eliburn Support Services

Social Policy’s Domiciliary Care Service has been in a phase of redesign for approximately 18 months. The new restructured service, called Support at Home Services, aims to improve the experience for users by providing a single point of contact for adults and older people who require short term support in their own home.

A day care centre for adults who have profound complex learning and physical disabilities has celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Incorporating teams such as the Home Safety Service, Re-ablement, Domiciliary Care, Dementia Home Support Team and Apetito/Scotmid shopping and frozen meals, the redesigned service will have 140 staff and deliver services to around 4,500 users. Crisis Care are part of this group of services but can be contacted through Careline.

A special tree donated by Mrs Blyth, grandmother of one of the service users and one of the main supporters of the sensory garden project, was planted in the garden to mark the occasion.

A new support team is being created to act as a single contact point with one phone number and email address. It is hoped this will streamline the experience for users, prevent duplication of contact, promote information sharing and speed up hospital discharge. Jennifer Scott, Head of Social Policy, said: “Delivering the right service at the right time is at the heart of social policy and the new Support at Home Services will help us make best use of our resources and improve the service we offer to residents. Information on the single point of contact telephone number as well as ways of contacting the service will be available in the near future.” 4

Eliburn Support Services in Livingston has provided a positive and caring environment for the people who use the service for three decades now.

Artist Judith Robertson, who has undertaken a number of art projects on behalf of the centre over the last 18 months, also gifted a painting to mark the special event.

Picture courtesy of Stuart Vance/West Lothian Courier

Fleet of foot

A trio of speedy Fleet and Community Transport staff achieved a creditable second place at West Lothian’s first official triathlon. The team of swimmer Austin Smith, cyclist Mark Miller and runner Keith Tollin were runners-up in the relay at the event organised by local sports club GRC Tri at Fauldhouse Partnership Centre recently. The challenging event saw teams taking part in a 750m swim, 14km cycle and 5km run, with over 70 individuals and seven teams taking part. Council staff were also among the GRC Tri members organising the event, with Franco McSherry and Ryan Williams from Fleet and Community Transport staff and Alex Ovens from Waste Services among those involved in transporting the equipment.

Pictured from left are Fleet and Community Transport team Mark Miller and Austin Smith with Keith Tollin, second from right.

Franco McSherry said: “It was a glorious sunny day and a very successful race, which will return next year. A big well done to Team Fleet Services for their superb second place and thanks to everyone who made the event possible, including our colleagues in Roads.”

Be Inspired! A special event aimed at encouraging West Lothian residents to get active with local sports clubs in the build up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games. Council staff from Active Schools, Sports Development and Operational Services teamed up to deliver the Be Inspired event to over 17,000 visitors to The Centre in Livingston. Elements Square was transformed to showcase local athletes and sports clubs and highlight opportunities to become involved. As well as local sport clubs providing excellent demonstrations throughout the day, judo internationalists Kelly Edwards and Colin Oates. Local national paralympic swimmer Robert Dalgleish also spoke to Radio Clyde DJ Romeo to provide an insight into what it takes to be at the top of their sport. Competitions on the day proved very successful with Dana Andrews, an S1 pupil at James Young High School in Livingston, taking top prize with 72 speed bounces in 30 seconds. Active Schools Manager Sheila McEwan said: “The Be Inspired event really helped raise the profile of sports clubs in West Lothian. It aimed to inspire the West Lothian community to get behind the

Glasgow 2014 games, and look at what sporting opportunities are available in their local area.” Be Inspired was funded through the Games for Scotland programme, managed by EventScotland, and forms a key part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver a lasting legacy as a result of the Commonwealth Games coming to Scotland. Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer at Event Scotland, said: “We were delighted to be working with West Lothian Council in the delivery of this event. Be Inspired epitomises what the Games for Scotland programme has been designed to accomplish; inspiring, motivating and engendering pride amongst the people of Scotland.” 9 5

New apprentices welcomed

32 new apprentices have joined West Lothian Council this year. They will be undertaking apprenticeships in electrical, plumbing, joinery, roofing, plastering, bricklaying, painting, horticulture, and roadworks with both Housing, Construction & Building Services and Operational Services. A big welcome to: electricians Gavin Conquer, Lewis Dolan, Jamie Morrow,

and Jack Ramsay; plumbers Ryan Sim, Tony Stevenson and Arran Watson; joiners Jordan Fleming, Daniel Locke, Ewan MacKay, Adam O’Hara, Sean Rafferty and Dylan Reid; roofers Liam Byrne, Daniel McEwan and Jordan Tait; plasterers Darren Downie, Sean Duncan and Michael Radcliffe; bricklayers Harry

Halloran, Connor McIntyre and Michael Holness; painters Scott Aitken and Scott Baillie; roadworkers Liam Kane, Neil Mann, Joseph Findlay and Kieran Barnes; and horticulture staff Gary Carty, Steven Cairns, Thomas McAllister and Michael Ellis.

Showing their skills A number of the council’s young apprentices have been showing their skills outwith the workplace. Roofers Kim Armstrong and Jonathan Young reached the APSE Apprentice of the Year finals earlier this year. Five council apprentices took part in the regional Skillbuild competition, with painter David Gardner clinching first in his category. Bricklayer Blair Hart received the runner-up prize in his area, with joiners Ross Leadbetter and Ben Shearer and painter Driss Keriouh also competing. Ross Leadbetter also took part in the Scottish Association of Timber Trades Teachers (SATTT) joinery contest where he gained 4th place, and painter Stewart McGregor came third in the Scottish Association of Painting Craft Teachers (SAPCT) competition. In addition, several others were selected for awards by their colleges – painters David Gardner and Driss Keriouh and bricklayer Blair Hart were all honoured by Forth Valley College, with Don Drummond winning Best second Year Bricklaying Student at Edinburgh College.

Just the job Building Services have been boosted with 17 former apprentices gaining permanent jobs with the council. The group completed their apprenticeships with Building Services in the summer of 2013. They are: electricians Nik Anderson, Robbie Brown, Andrew Fraser and Ryan Thomson; plumbers Aaron Ferguson and Ryan McGraw; joiners Murray Blair, Tommy Lees, Billy McGugan, Dean Robinson, Robert Shipton and Iain Todd; painter Lee McKenzie; roofers Jonathan Young, Robert Wood and Jamie Young; and fencer Ernie Orme. 6

Making IT Easier…

New IT self service portal to launch Contacting IT Services is set to get even simpler. The new IT Self Service portal is set to launch on 7 October 2013, allowing staff to log or update requests, and check on their progress. It will also enable IT Services to keep you upto-date with information such as planned maintenance or major works. IT Manager Jennifer Milne said: “IT Services are excited to be launching our new IT Self Service portal on 7 October. “Not only will the portal significantly improve the communication between IT Services and our customers across the council, it will also considerably improve the way our customers can access the services that IT provide.”

And it will Make IT Easier for IT to: n Tell you when we are undertaking any planned maintenance that might impact you e.g. an upcoming Planned Maintenance weekend


Further information will be provided to customers in September leading up to the ‘go live’ date of 7 October.

n Tell you if we have major works ongoing that might impact you e.g. email services are not available due to a major fault

Make IT Easier for you to:

n Give you information on IT service availability e.g. Electronic Document Records Management system is ‘running slow’

n Log support calls online if you have a fault to report e.g. your PC is not able to access MS Word

n Give you news on what is happening in IT Services through our Notice Board.

n Add attachments to your support calls online e.g. a screenshot showing the error message you are seeing n Add updates to your support calls online without the need to call the IT Service Desk n Log your requests for service online e.g. hardware disposal, account deletions, account creation for a new start, purchasing new hardware, network account password reset n Track the progress online of all your support calls and requests for service.

Working on the web Plans to revamp the council’s website are gathering pace. Web Engagement Specialist Colin Baxter has joined the council with a remit of delivering a new responsive website and content management system (CMS). Father of two Colin, from Livingston, has worked with websites and digital media for over seven years, across a variety of industries and with a wide range of digital platforms. He most recently worked with Forestry Commission Scotland as Digital and Colin Baxter

Social Media Manager, as well as being Project Manager for the delivery of their new website and CMS. Customer Services Development Manager Karen Cawte said: “We recognise that work is required to improve our website, and Colin’s appointment is a significant step forward in this process. He will play a vital role in establishing the requirements from each council service, and liaising with all parties, internal and external, to deliver the new site.”

For more information, please speak to the web liaison officer for your service area. 9 7


Dealing with benefit changes Teams from across the council are helping local people who have been affected by the changes to benefits. Donald Forrest, head of finance and estates, leads the corporate welfare reform working group which ensures a coordinated response across council services.

Donald said: “The welfare reform changes are having a significant impact on local people and council teams are providing vital support and continuity throughout this process.” In the last issue of Inside News we featured Alison Laing, Community Based Housing Officer, and Anne Wood, Information Advice Officer. In this edition we are featuring the work of Steven Sharp, Scottish Welfare Fund Officer, and Bernadette Bell, Customer Services Adviser.

Steven Sharp, Scottish Welfare Fund Officer,

Finance and Estates

Working as part of a team dealing with Crisis and Community Care Grants I interact with very vulnerable people who already reside or are soon to reside in West Lothian. Applications for grants are received through various channels such as the Customer Service Centre, the homeless team, Customer Information Service (CIS) centres, Social Policy and online. As Crisis Grants must be determined within two working days of a completed application form being received I work to a very tight timescale to decide whether an award should be made. A large part of my day is spent on the telephone communicating with the applicant, police officers, social workers, housing officers and family members to try to support and verify any evidence which has been provided. Once the application has been verified and I have determined whether the applicant is eligible for an award I call them to confirm how they can receive the payment. Taking a holistic approach I also discuss whether it would benefit the individual to seek money/debt advice or be referred on to other services, this is dependent on their personal circumstances. Crisis Grants are paid through a Post Office payment scheme and the successful applicant can collect their award letter from one of our designated CIS centres. The letter contains a barcode which can be presented at any Post Office for payment. Examples of Crisis Grants vary from applicants losing wallets to supporting a family visiting a sick child in hospital. 8

I also deal with Community Care Grants (CCGs) which must be considered within 15 working days of receipt of a completed application. CCGs are paid under five categories and I must ensure that any award is made under the correct category. The most common category paid is ‘helping the applicant establish themselves in the community following a period of care’. The majority of grants are made as an award of goods rather than cash and are delivered and installed by our supplier CF Furnishings. Each item requested is considered on an individual basis and, depending on the applicant’s personal circumstances, I determine whether an award of any item will have an immediate effect of that individual’s quality of life and help them to remain in the community. I always call the applicant to discuss the award and reasons why I may have been unable to award any items which may have been requested. I will then issue a letter of award confirming the reasons for my decision and detailing the items awarded. Examples of CCGs vary from an applicant leaving prison and requesting clothing and furniture to an applicant requesting household items to improve the life of a vulnerable child. I also deal with any communication received regarding my decisions and any requests for reconsiderations from applicants. I consider any new evidence provided and decide whether I can alter any previous decision. I would then communicate this to the applicant. I feel that my job is very rewarding as I firmly believe that it can change the lives of residents of West Lothian for the better and supports families and individuals through crises when they are unable to support themselves.

Bernadette Bell, Customer Information Adviser,

Customer Information Service (CIS)

My role is to resolve customer enquiries at the first point of contact. I currently work from three offices Linlithgow, Armadale and Broxburn.

of the month, so I encourage them to pay by direct debit. This will provide the choice of paying on certain days of the month which suits her, over a 10 or 12 month period. The customer opts to pay by direct debit.

As the CIS deals with all services we have to be up to date with changing legislation and work closely with colleagues from across the council. Enquiries can be complex and lengthy at times especially in the current economic climate.

A gentleman then calls in to advise he has no money. His only income is Job seekers Allowance. There has been an unexpected charge from his bank account which leaves him with no money and without any means to buy food until he receives his next benefit payment. After explaining that he could apply for a Crisis Grant, I arrange for a colleague from the Scottish Welfare Fund team in Revenues to ‘call back’ to help him complete an application form over the phone. I also issue a voucher for a food parcel from one of the food bank locations.

Customers claiming benefits seem to be more anxious and worried due to the new welfare reforms, every day is different and I deal with customer enquiries ranging from homelessness and people in crisis to faulty street lighting and pest control - and everything in between. Today an elderly customer with mobility problems comes in to ask about a Blue Badge. I can provide the form and explain what he needs to bring in as evidence for his application. I then explain that he may qualify for Attendance Allowance due to his medical problems. As this is a not means tested benefit it would not affect his other income and I offer to contact the Advice Shop on his behalf to ask for a benefit health check. My next customer has a reminder letter for council tax. She is upset as she always pays the council tax every month. I explain that council tax is due on the first day of every month and they normally pay in the middle


A customer calls in to discuss a Housing Application as they are struggling to meet the rent shortfall due to the under-occupancy charge. After further enquiries I see that there is the possibility of pursuing additional funding as a family member uses the extra room for overnight care. I submit a request to colleagues in the Revenues Unit for a Discretionary Housing Payment, stating his case, giving all information required. The customer is delighted with this avenue as the possibility of moving home was upsetting him and could possibly be detrimental to his health. I feel it is important to actively listen to customer concerns and promote the services offered by the council, other statutory bodies and voluntary organisations within West Lothian. It gives me a sense of satisfaction when I know that I have really helped someone, particularly in these challenging times.

More information on welfare reform is available online:

Better off Money Week returns Better Off: West Lothian Money Week is back again this year from 7 to 12 October with a focus on food poverty. The aim of Money Week is to raise financial awareness, and to get people thinking about how to manage their money, budget and reuse/recycle/ grow your own as a means to saving money. To help people think about this West Lothian Council’s Advice Shop along with a range of partners has organised various events taking place across West Lothian ranging from Christmas on a Budget to Grow Your Own events as well as Energy Saving Tips.

Welfare Reform Training Training sessions were delivered by the Advice Shop and Housing Services earlier this year for staff, voluntary groups and community planning partners on the changes being introduced this year as part of Welfare Reform. These sessions were very popular and well-attended. A further round of seminars has been organised by the Advice Shop and Housing Services. The sessions will include: • Progress/update on the changes which have already happened • Group discussions/Information sharing about these changes and if/how they have impacted customers/staff and the different service areas • Information about upcoming reforms • Personal Independence Payment, update, feedback about how this is working for customers/advisers and other local authorities – update on new appeals process • Universal Credit, update – feedback from pilot areas. How to work out entitlement, the claims and new appeals process • Group discussions with case studies & develop actions in partnership to help lessen the impact on customers • Help/support available and useful contact numbers. Date



15 October

9.30 – 11.30am

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

18 October

9.30 – 11.30am

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

21 October

2.00 – 4.00pm

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

22 October

9.30 – 11.30am

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

28 October

9.30 – 11.30am

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

or email

31 October

2.00 – 4.00pm

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

or phone 01506 283000 (option 3).

To book a session email:

For more information about money week and to find out what’s on during money week please visit

9 9

Broxburn means Business A brand new Business Gateway Plus office has opened in Broxburn. The premises, at 4 Greendykes Road, provide a local hub for the delivery of the West Lothian Economic Growth Plan, which is a partnership between West Lothian Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government.

The office is a base for a business growth adviser and a business start up adviser. It also provides space for regular outreach surgeries to take place with a number of organisations such as West Lothian Credit

Scotland becomes Fairtrade nation The West Lothian Fairtrade Zone Steering Group has been celebrating their role in Scotland becoming the second ever Fairtrade Nation. The group have congratulated the Scottish Fair Trade Forum on the historic achievement following a successful Fair Trade Festival in Perth recently. The event brought together supporters, organisations and members of the public from across Scotland and beyond, with film showings, workshops, guest-speakers, stalls and plenty for the kids to do. The West Lothian Fairtrade Zone Steering Group is currently working towards the 2014 Fairtrade Fortnight. West Lothian Fairtrade Day will take place on Thursday, 27 February 2014, to build on the success of this year’s event, so keep an eye out for a range of Fairtrade events and promotions.

Union and Job Centre Plus showing an interest in booking space on a regular basis. The office has three meeting rooms which will also be available for community use.

The West Lothian Community Safety Unit is advising council staff to take precautions against break-ins this Autumn. Every year, as the nights grow longer, the number of break-ins to dwelling houses increases. Thieves are always on the lookout for an opportunity to steal from an easy target, but following the SECURE simple steps can reduce the likelihood of your home being broken into:

Secure all house doors. Ensure all windows are secure. Cancel delivery of newspapers, milk, etc if you are away for a few days.

Use a timer switch for use with a lamp and /or radio. Remember to give the impression that your home is occupied.

Ensure you use other home security measures to maximum effect. (Alarm System, safe, property marking)

For more information regarding home security contact either your Community Officer at your local police station or the Community Safety Unit at West Lothian Civic Centre. n Report incidents by calling 101 n Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers: call 0800 555 111 10

West Lothian Council

Celebrating Su ess is almost upon us and this year’s finalists have been announced. The finalists for Celebrating Success 2013 are… Celebrating Success acknowledges the effort made by teams of employees who are demonstrating excellent levels of service and whose work, projects and initiatives make a real difference to the quality of life for the people of West Lothian. Donald Forrest, Celebrating Success champion said: “We had 91 entries this year which was absolutely fantastic. The standard of entries was incredibly high and our team of internal judges had a very difficult job in selecting three finalists for each category. “I’d like to thank our internal judges who play an important role in the process. The team are officers from across the service areas, who come together to mark each of the entries, and their participation is very much appreciated.

Category One - Smarter • Whitrigg House (Social Policy) • Integration of Financial Strategy & Corporate Planning (Finance and Estates) • West Lothian Careline (Area Services) Category Two – Safer & Stronger • Developing Community Engagement (Community Planning Team and Area Services) • Broxburn Flood Prevention Scheme – East Burnside Flood Defences (Operational Services) • Refurbishment of Townhead Gardens, Whitburn (Housing, Construction and Building Services) Category Three – Fairer & Wealthier • Delivering the Scottish Welfare Fund (Finance and Estates) • Modern Apprenticeship Programme (Area Services) • Developing Work Skills and Confidence in School Leavers (Operational Services) Category Four – Healthier & Greener • Wind Power Project (Education Services) • Armadale Community Sport Hub (Area Services) • Household Food Waste Collection Service (Operational Services)

Team of the Year Award • Human Resources (Corporate Services) • Site Selection & Development of a New Build Housing Programme Team (Various services. Led by Housing, Construction and Building Services) • Social Policy Reablement & Crisis Care Team (Social Policy) Leader’s Award • Planning for Economic Growth and Recovery (Planning and Economic Development) • Safe and Sound – Adult Protection (Social Policy) • On the Record – Information Management Working Group (Corporate Services)

Invitations Each finalist has been contacted and offered up to 10 places. Each finalist has been asked to agree on the team members to be invited with your manager and send an email with names and email addresses to Lynette Valentine, If you have not done this already, please contact Lynette immediately on 01506 282024.

“Unfortunately not everyone can be a finalist but thank you to everyone that took time to submit an entry this year.

When and where is the awards event?

“As you know we are very grateful to Land Securities who have generously supported Celebrating Success for several years, and are again supporting the event this year.”

Who are the external judges?

Category Five – Provost’s Award • Beecraigs Country Park – Mountain Bike Trail (Operational Services) • Securing & Supporting the Delivery of the British Pipe Band Championship 2013 (Planning and Economic Development) • Murrayfield Park Regeneration Project (Area Services)

Howden Park Centre, Livingston on Friday 15 November at 6.15pm for 6.45pm until late. The evening will include awards, a special ten year celebration, food and refreshments. Entertainment is provided by West Lothian schools musicians. Dress code is smart dress.

The external judges include representatives from: Land Securities, West Lothian College, the Citizen Led Inspection team, Youth Judge and Trade Unions.

Steps to the judging process Step one - each application is read by internal judges and marked on the basis of set criteria. Step two - the top three entries for each category go forward as finalists. Step three - the finalists are named and the videos are produced for each finalist.

Step four - Each finalist has their application marked by external judges who also meet to discuss each entry. Step five – the external judges’ marks are collated and the winners are identified. The winners in each category are a closely guarded secret until the awards event. 9 11

Class act The new intake of probationary teachers has been welcomed to West Lothian Council. A total of 82 probationer teachers have joined the council for the 2013/14 school year. A special induction event was organised for them at Howden Park Centre, Livingston, prior to joining their schools. All newly qualified teaching staff are required to complete a probationary period before they can become fully registered with the General Teaching Council (GTC) Scotland, which is usually a guaranteed year of teaching in a state school. Moira Niven, Depute Chief Executive said: “I’d like to welcome the entire group of new probationary teachers to West Lothian. It’s a great opportunity for them to start their teaching careers in our council where we have a reputation for innovation, partnership working and customer focus.

Natalie Clark

“West Lothian offers excellent support for probationary teachers and I hope they will make the best of this opportunity to develop their skills and experience in the classroom. Teaching is a wonderful profession that plays a significant role in helping develop the next generation of young citizens.” Among the new probationary teachers was Natalie Clark, who is going back to teach at her former school, Carmondean Primary in Livingston.

Natalie said: “It was a bit strange at first coming back to my old school, but it’s been really positive so far. All the staff and pupils have been really welcoming. “There are a few teachers still here who I remember from when I was a pupil. My brother also attended Carmondean, so they have been asking how he is doing, which is really nice! I’m teaching Primary 3 and I have a lovely class. It’s only the first week but I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Study opportunity An innovative partnership between council schools and West Lothian College is helping improve opportunities for young people. From this year, S5 students from across West Lothian can apply to study for a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Computing or Engineering at West Lothian College, two afternoons per week for two years, as part of their school curriculum. 12

This unique partnership will see local students attain a level of qualification which very few students across the country will have achieved by their school leaving date. Computing and Engineering Systems courses were chosen due to demand for

skilled workers in these areas, with an HNC qualification, which is both attractive to employers and a clear pathway onto Higher Education, including degree courses. A wider variety of HNC courses are planned for school pupils in the future.

New Head Teachers Jacqueline Swierkot has taken up the reins at Bankton Primary School in Livingston, with Vicky Fish now in charge at Croftmalloch Primary School in Whitburn. Jacqueline, who has post graduate qualifications in Nursery, Early Years and Primary Science, previously taught at Howden St Andrew’s Primary School in Livingston, Torphichen Primary School and more recently as Depute and Acting Head Teacher at St. John Ogilvie Primary School in Livingston. Jacqueline said: “I am thrilled and delighted to have been appointed as Head Teacher of Bankton Primary School and I am looking forward to working with pupils, staff and parents to continue to develop this vibrant learning community.” Mrs Fish has spent her career teaching in West Lothian. Starting at Parkhead Primary School in August 2000 where she was a probationer and progressing to a class teacher, Principal Teacher and finally Depute Head. She was also Acting Head Teacher at Kirknewton Primary School and Depute Head Teacher at Dedridge Primary School. Mrs Fish said: “The school has a strong relationship with the community and I am looking forward to building on this. The school community will continue to promote a culture of positive attitudes towards learning and to encourage our pupils to be all they can be.”

Gold star for pupils and teachers Around 5,000 pupils in West Lothian received their exam results last month. Early indications suggest that pupils have performed extremely well this year. The overall results highlight that an increased percentage of pupils have achieved Highers than in previous years. However, a key highlight in this year’s results is the increase in pupils who have gained Advanced Highers, while Standard Grade results have remained consistently high, and comparable with last year’s impressive results. All of these trends reflect a massive effort from teachers and the increase in Highers and Advanced Highers is a fantastic end product for a year of hard work. Moira Niven, depute chief executive for education, planning and area services, said: “This time of year is always an anxious time for parents/carers, teachers and, of course, pupils. However, I am very pleased to see that early indications show an improvement in the percentage of students gaining Highers. There has been an increase in pupils gaining five Highers, three Highers and one higher, which is tremendous news and reflects on the high quality of teaching the pupils are receiving.”

Fond farewell to Jean

Pumpherston and Uphall Station Community Primary School said an emotional goodbye to Miss Martin this summer. Jean Martin retired after an

amazing 41 years at the school, her entire teaching career. She was given a great send-off by pupils at a special assembly, where she described the school and the

communities it serves as ‘being like a special family’. All her pupils and colleagues wish her a very long and happy retirement.

9 13

Challenge 50

Life can throw up the occasional wee challenge when we reach our half century. But for Susan Stewart, Housing with Care Manager at Brucefield House, Whitburn, it’s throwing up more than most, and she won’t be 50 until 12 July 2014. Susan’s husband, Alan, has had a kidney transplant and when he turned 50 in February, the couple decided to set themselves 50 sporting challenges between their two birthdays. At the same time as carrying out the challenges, the couple also wanted to raise awareness of organ donation. Fortunately, both are very sporty, with Susan being an active member of a running group and Alan an accomplished swimmer. On their challenges, the couple have been carrying a plastic fish and a ‘wee man’ from the top of Alan’s 50th birthday cake. Susan explained: “We decided as a bit of a laugh to take both of these to all events. It has got us talking to lots of people because they ask about them and we then get on to talking about organ donation.” The couple are taking part in many of the challenges together, along with other members of the Transplant Ambassador team. Events completed so far include the Hampden Kilt Walk, Edinburgh Marathon, Great North Swim and the women’s 10K in Glasgow. One of the biggest highlights was the British Transplant Games, at Sheffield in midAugust, where Alan won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. Those still to come include the Costume Run, in Munich, and a Santa run in December.

Susan and Alan Stewart

The final challenge, which the couple will complete together, will be either Lands End to John O Groats or Cedar City to Pheonix, USA, and they plan to finish just in time to allow Susan to celebrate her 50th in style.

Planning for the future Craig McCorriston has been appointed as the council’s Head of Planning and Economic Development. He started his career as a planner with Bedfordshire County Council in 1986, before joining West Lothian District Council in 1994. Craig transferred to West Lothian Council following local government re-organisation, where he most recently held the role of Planning Services Manager. He lives in Linlithgow with wife Wendy and their two children, and enjoys photography and fishing in his free time. A self-confessed ‘aeroplane anorak’, Craig also likes travelling and is a qualified private pilot. Craig said: “I’m delighted to take on the role as Head of Planning and Economic Development. “It’s a challenging time for the council as we work to facilitate economic growth and improve the way we deliver services to our customers.”


Top of the class Congratulations to Morgan Callachan from Area Services. Morgan recently graduated from Stirling University with a first class honours in Criminology & Social Policy. She was also awarded top graduate in her year, and received a special research skills award for her dissertation. Well done from all your family and friends around the council.

Join and save with Employee Benefits Sign up for Employee Benefits and save cash this Autumn.

Tough challenge Contact Centre Revenues adviser Gary Elder has been getting his hands dirty for charity. He took part in a Tough Mudder challenge recently, a hardcore 10 – 12 miles obstacle course, as part of a team raising funds for several charities. Gary has personally raised over £350 for Prostate Cancer charities.


hea th at work

Active Health events

The council has negotiated discounts with more than 90 local businesses and over 1,000 businesses nationally. It’s easy to join and gives you access to thousands of discounts such as up to 50% off thousands of restaurants, up to 54% off some of the UK’s top visitor attractions and up to 20% off fashion and gifts. Visit and enter your 7 digit employee number to find out more information on discounts, cashback, special offers and competitions. New members should click ‘Register’ and follow the steps, or email or call us on 0845 272 8720 if you need assistance.

Cleaning up West Lothian

West Lothian Walking Week 16-22 September 2013 Just 30 minutes walking a day can make a dramatic difference to health and wellbeing. Walking is an accessible and inclusive form of physical activity, which can also be very sociable and easily fitted into people’s daily lives. What better way to get out and about than by enjoying the beautiful scenery which West Lothian has to offer? Whether experienced walkers or total beginners, West Lothian Walking Week offers the chance to explore beautiful landscapes, learn about the area’s history, make new friends and take some important strides towards improving health. This year there are nearly 40 free walks for people living and working in West Lothian to enjoy.

Spring Event Body Checkouts at Deans were very well received and referrals made to local GPs for further tests. Fresh fruit at Whitehill, Whitehill Depot, County Buildings and St David House was gratefully received.

Street Cleansing Operatives John Binnie and Donald Morton launching the new action plan.

Making West Lothian a cleaner place to live is the goal of a new strategy to tackle litter in our area. West Lothian Council has launched a new Litter Action Plan, which sets out how the council, local residents, businesses and partner agencies can work together towards the shared goal of making the area the cleanest in Scotland. The council received over 2,500 contacts from residents regarding littering, dog fouling and fly-tipping and issued over 400 fixed penalty notices in 2012. We commit around £2.8 million each year for street cleaning and environmental

enforcement, and the plan aims to refocus some of these resources into areas that will have the greatest impact, such as prevention, education and community participation. Key actions in the plan include: identifying and targeting resources to tackle littering hotspots; increased enforcement action; more engagement with local groups and businesses to address the issue; and increased opportunities for individuals and groups to get involved.

Whitehill House ran a home baking/coffee lunch to get people away from their desks to give them a break from the pressures and stress related to their daily working tasks. A total of £528 was raised for Cancer Research from the sales of home baking and a raffle.

Change of Chair The AH@W group will shortly have a new chair following the retirement of Marion Johnston. Marion chaired the group from her appointment as Occupational Health and Safety Manager and successfully steered it to the first Gold Award in 2006 and the retention of this standard till the present day. The next annual assessment is due in September. The group wish Marion all the best for a long and happy retirement.

9 15

Going that extra mile for charity

Staff from St. Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn have made a marathon effort to help good causes. Twenty members of staff from the school’s Maths, Business and Computing departments, along with Headteacher Stephen Campbell, participated in the Hairy Haggis Marathon Relay earlier this year to raise funds for three different charities.

Each staff member completed an individual leg of the relay to reach the 26.2 miles total. Many of the runners had never participated in an event of this nature before, yet each completed their required distance with determination and smiles throughout.

Charity climb

A Broxburn Academy teacher endured a gruelling challenge to raise money for a worthy cause. English teacher Jamie Andrew has climbed the equivalent height of Everest and back in 42 hours to raise money for Help for Heroes. Keen marathon runner Jamie was part of a three man team who climbed a combined total of 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) using Scottish mountains around the Glen Nevis and Glencoe region. The team has raised over £3,000 so far, with further events planned. Donations can be made at

Over £2,000 has been raised to date, with Sands Lothian, Breast Cancer Care, and the Brain Tumour Charity all benefiting. All the staff involved would like to say a big thank you to all the generous people who have donated.

Two good causes benefit from fundraising day Kind-hearted staff at the West Lothian Civic Centre have helped raise £2,000 for good causes. A special fundraising day took place recently, to raise money for childrens’ charities at home and abroad. Among the events taking place was a raffle, Scottish quiz, various competitions and home baking for sale and much more. Winners included: Derek Rae, Music Development Officer, who won the full Duty Free Bag; Kevin Carter from Criminal Justice ,who won the Scottish quiz; and the bottle of malt whisky was won by Maintenance Inspector Stewart Gamble. The money raised was split between Children 1st, who aim to make sure every child and young person in Scotland have a happy, healthy, safe and secure childhood, and Children of Songea, who work with orphaned and vulnerable children in Tanzania. Organisers from Members Services would like to thank everyone who donated prizes and supported the events to help raise such a fantastic total.

Jamie left with fellow team member and ex-Royal Engineers army officer, Richard Robinson.

We are always keen to receive suggestions for articles or features, and photography. For details on future deadlines for Inside News contact: Corporate Communications, West Lothian Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, EH54 6FF Tel: 01506 282006 email:

keeping you informed

Inside News issue 93  

West Lothian newsletter for council employees