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Newsletter for the employees of West Lothian Council

ISSUE 95 March 2014

Bloomin’ good! Broxburn’s Brock Garden Centre to blossom into social enterprise see page 10

Former QE2 captain welcomed aboard • Depot modernisation People Strategy launches • New Head Teachers appointed

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Chief Executive’s column I hope you and your families have enjoyed a good start to 2014. By now, you should all have received a briefing on the 2014/15 budget position. You will be aware we face further challenges in the next few years, due to reduced funding and increased cost pressures. However, I firmly believe we are in a strong position to deal with the challenges ahead, thanks to our integrated approach to financial strategy. With a general revenue budget of around £370million, we will continue to deliver a wide and diverse range of services on behalf of local residents. I know we can count on the dedication of staff from all around the council to ensure we keep delivering quality services for local residents. Running the upcoming European Elections and Referendum this year will be a huge task involving staff from around the council. Ballots like these are an essential part of the democratic process, and council staff play a vital role in making sure they can happen.

Whitburn Academy’s Headteacher, Ian Adair, celebrates with pupils following their exam results

Exam results are class act Exam performance across West Lothian’s secondary schools is better than ever before according to the latest Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results. Recent results highlight improvements across S4, S5 and S6, including a record number of pupils achieving Advanced Higher passes. The percentage of pupils attaining five or more standard grades at each of the standard grade levels (foundation, general and credit) has risen. In 2013, the number of pupils achieving five or more Standard Grades at General level and the number of pupils achieving five or more Standard Grades at Credit level continued to be above the national average and comparator authorities’ average. In S5, overall performance has improved over the past five years with the percentage of pupils attaining passes rising significantly at each Higher level. Across the board, performance

at Higher level is now above comparator local authorities and above the national average for pupils achieving one or more highers and for pupils achieving five or more highers. In S6, record numbers of pupils are attaining one or more Advanced Higher with West Lothian now above both the national and comparator authority average. Moira Niven, Depute Chief Executive, added: “The improvement in West Lothian performance in SQA examinations is the result of an enhanced, strategic approach to raising attainment. We are delighted with the latest results and we have identified a number of actions to further improve levels in the years ahead.”

I would encourage all staff to register to vote prior to these events and make themselves aware of the additional restrictions placed on council workers in the build-up to these ballots as outlined on page 4.

Lothian Pension Fund news

Finally, I’d like to congratulate colleagues in Education Services on the post appeal exam results which were published recently. We are committed to improving levels of attainment and the 2013 results illustrate that we are moving in the right direction, with improvements being achieved at all levels.

If you are planning to visit, please check the location on the website or phone 0131 529 4638 in advance. Email, phone numbers, fax and mailing address remain the same.

Graham Hope Chief Executive Graham Hope Chief Executive westlothian.gov.uk

The Lothian Pension Fund (LPF) has moved temporarily to the High Street in Edinburgh.

Work has begun on the details of the new Scotland-wide 2015 Pension Scheme. You can view the finalised Heads of Agreement and a member’s briefing on the LPF website, which

includes information on how the new Career Average Scheme will work, a comparison of the current and proposed schemes and frequently asked questions. The Scottish Government is also currently consulting on proposals for new governance arrangements and the regulations for the 2015 Scheme. Information on the fund’s response is on the LPF website.

Depute ChiefFor Executive Jim information, Forrest further please visit www.lpf.org.uk

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Former QE2 captain welcomed on board An experienced hand is taking the helm at weddings around West Lothian. Former QE2 Captain Nick Bates has joined the crew at West Lothian Council’s Registration Services team conducting civil wedding ceremonies across the area. Nick, who also captained the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) and cruise ships, Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess, conducted more than 50 weddings at sea. He is now enjoying sharing the special day on dry land with happy couples at venues around West Lothian. Nick said: “There are a lot of similarities between the process of conducting marriages on a ship and on dry land, although it’s not as straight forward as you might think; there is a steep learning curve to be covered. “Thankfully I have completed the training and I have now performed six weddings in West Lothian. “I’ve got to say that I have enjoyed every one; the people have been lovely and there are some superb locations around West Lothian.

“The locations are a major difference for me. The ships were as familiar as the back of my hand but getting the opportunity to visit new places does add that extra buzz of excitement. “There are always surprises: at one of the first weddings I conducted, the red carpet that the bride walked down had actually come from the QE2. I couldn’t believe it – I’d walked down that carpet myself hundreds of times and now here it was! It certainly made me feel more at home. “I am very much looking forward to meeting more of the wonderful people of West Lothian and helping them through their special day. I’m also pleased to be working with such great and supportive teams in both Livingston and Bathgate; they’ve really helped me to settle in.” Nick combines this role with his charity work and is also a published author and Nick Bates from Registration Services sought-after public speaker.

Milestone for new partnership centre An important milestone has been reached in the development of the new £7.6 million hub for council, health and community services in Blackburn.

Mandela bursary

The Stage 1 submission has been approved, which includes all of the project development work undertaken to date such as building designs and technical proposals. The new building will enable locally based services which focus on delivering the partners’ shared priorities through:

West Lothian Council is set to mark the legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

n Providing a new, modern, fit for purpose facility where the community can access a range of public services; and

Proposals are currently being brought forward to create a sports bursary in Nelson Mandela’s honour. The aim of the bursary will be to encourage the participation in sport by a sports person or organisation in West Lothian.

The development will see the council, NHS Lothian and other partners working together to provide a modern, central community facility next to the Mill Centre, where local residents can access a range of public services and facilities.

Former President Mandela died in December at the age of 95. Mr Mandela led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison for his political activities.

These will include a library, Customer Information Service (CIS) centre, employability service, community health centre, GP practice, dentist, community centre (including sports hall and multi-purpose spaces), IT training suite, early years’ provision, young people’s services, and credit union.

He was well-known for his great love of sport and its impact on inspiring and uniting young people in particular, as well as being an avid long distance runner and boxer himself. westlothian.gov.uk

n Encouraging joint working, shared services, aligned resources and greater collaboration between agencies.

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Top award for Kim Kim Armstrong has been crowned the Association of Public Sector Excellence’s (APSE) Scottish Building and Housing Apprentice of the Year for 2013. Apprentice roofer Kim won the sought-after trophy against the cream of apprentices from around Scotland. This follows on from her success in winning the National Female Building Skills award in the UK-wide APSE awards last year. Her colleagues, joiner Iain Todd and painter David Gardner, were also shortlisted finalists in the 4th year and 3rd year categories respectively.

for the council to have three apprentices nominated for top awards at the Scottish APSE awards. “Special congratulations go to Kim for winning the top award, and well-done to Ian and David for making the finals in their categories against strong competition. We are rightly proud of our apprentice programme, and achieving this recognition is testament to the hard work from both our apprentices and their mentors.”

Head of housing, construction and building services, Alistair Shaw, said: “It is fantastic

Ian Todd, Kim Armstrong, David Gardner and Grant Taylor

West Lothian marks Holocaust Memorial Day Victims of genocide from around the world honoured in West Lothian. A poignant exhibition ran in Bathgate Partnership Centre, South Bridge Street, from national Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) on Monday 27 January until Friday 31 January. The free exhibition included posters and banners recounting the stories of some of the survivors of these genocides, with a special focus on Rwanda on the 20th anniversary of the genocide there, with the chance to pick up leaflets from the HMD Trust, and access related books, films and reference materials from Simpson Library. HMD is a day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. It is held on 27 January each year to mark the liberation of Auschwitz, with West Lothian marking the event for the first time this year.

For more information on HMD, please visit www.hmd.org.uk

New guidance issued Council staff are being advised to look out for new guidance regarding council publicity and other activities. Restrictions are always in place regarding council activities in areas such as: publicity; use of council premises and visits from campaigners; promoting political literacy in schools; politically restricted posts; and time off work for staff.

The new guidance will cover how the issues around the referendum question will affect council service delivery, and help ensure that staff are aware of how the restrictions might affect their role.

Stricter rules apply to the council and other public authorities, such as the Scottish Government, during the run-up to ballots, such as the referendum. This is commonly known as the ‘purdah’ period and will run from Thursday, 21 August to Thursday, 18 September 2014 for the referendum.

Chief legal officer, Gordon Blair, said: “It’s essential that staff from across the council are aware of the ongoing restrictions in key areas, as well as the stricter rules that exist during the purdah period, and how it impacts on their role. “The guidance will be available soon, and any

staff member with questions or concerns should speak to their line manager in the first instance, and consider seeking additional guidance from their Head of Service as required. “Regular council business continues as normal, but special care must be taken to ensure the perception of the council as impartial remains at all times, with additional care taken during the purdah period.” Specific guidance has already been issued to school staff for teaching purposes.

European Parliamentary Elections, Thursday 22 May 2014

You can make a real difference. Make sure you’re registered to vote by Tuesday 6 May 2014 If you wish to vote by post, you must make an application by 5.00pm on Wednesday 7 May 2014.

To register, please telephone or visit the website. Telephone - 0131 344 2500 www.lothian-vjb.gov.uk

Electoral Registration Office 17A South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9FL

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Transforming depot facilities West Lothian Council has launched an ambitious strategy to improve its depot facilities. Consultation is currently being carried out on proposals to invest £20 million to modernise our depot facilities, which will improve the working environment for staff, allow more efficient working and save money long-term by reducing maintenance costs. The proposals involve centralising facilities at two sites in Whitehill Industrial Estate in Bathgate and Lister Road in Kirkton Campus, Livingston. Depute chief executive, Graeme Struthers, said: “These proposals represent an ideal opportunity to improve the way we work and deliver services through modern depot facilities which are fit for the 21st century. “Locating services together creates new opportunities for further shared working and service efficiencies, which will benefit West Lothian residents. By avoiding the substantial outlay which would have been

required to maintain our current depot facilities, this investment will save the council money in the long-term.” The plans for Whitehill Industrial Estate will see the council purchase the former Mahle building in Inchmuir Road. Together with existing council-owned properties at Whitehill Depot, Whitehill House and adjacent land, a large area will be redeveloped to create a base for the whole of Operational Services, which includes teams such as Waste, Roads and Fleet Transport. It will also include a new waste transfer station, a commercial recycling centre and more covered salt storage for winter as well as a modern depot, workshop and office accommodation. Lister Road in Kirkton Campus will provide a new base for Building Services staff, as well as other services such as the Community

Craft apprentice of the Year Apprentice joiner Iain Todd has picked up the top accolade as West Lothian Council’s Craft Apprentice of the Year 2013. Iain (21) joined fellow apprentices from Housing, Construction and Building Services at the seventh annual awards at Howden Park Centre. He won the prestigious award for his enthusiasm towards his apprenticeship, his overall aptitude for his trade and his performance at West Lothian College, where he won their Apprentice of the Year Award in 2012. Head of housing, construction and building services, Alistair Shaw, said:

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“West Lothian Council has a proud tradition of supporting apprentices and it was a pleasure to meet so many of them and present them with their awards. I’d also like to thank our council colleagues who train and mentor our apprentices. It’s a team effort and their expertise is invaluable.” Thanks to all of the sponsors for their generous donations.

Whitehill Industrial Estate

Lister Road, Kirkton Campus

Inclusion Workshop and the Archives, Museums and Record Management services. Vacated sites such as Guildyhaugh in Bathgate and Nairn Road in Deans will be marketed for development, to contribute to the cost of the investment in these new facilities.

THE WINNERS Best 1st Year Apprentice - Ross Leadbetter Best 2nd Year Apprentice - Kim Armstrong Best 3rd Year Apprentice - Driss Keriouh Best 4th Year Apprentice - Iain Todd Excellent College Performance - David Gardner Michael Clark Award - Jordan Kerr Robert MacMillan Excellent Skills Award - Ernie Orme Excellent Mentors Award - Jim Wright, Scott Meek and Craig Sutherland Excellent Customer Service Award - Nik Anderson Excellent Health & Safety Awareness Award - Gary Todd Best Logbook - Murray Blair, George Graham, Jamie Hill and Driss Keriouh Special Achievement Award – Kim Armstrong

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Employees at heart of council success A new strategy has been agreed to support council employees in their roles in delivering vital services to local residents. The council’s People Strategy recognises the critical role that a motivated, skilled and capable workforce plays in every aspect of service delivery and continuous improvement. The strategy sets out a framework for key activities and actions over the next five years. In common with many other organisations, the council faces particularly difficult challenges in maintaining and improving the quality and effectiveness of service outcomes whilst achieving ever tighter efficiency targets. The People Strategy aims to provide employees with the necessary support and development to continue to improve the services we deliver.

Julie Whitelaw, acting head of corporate services said: “The People Strategy is designed to support the council’s key aim of improving the quality and value of the services we provide to the people of West Lothian. “The quality and effectiveness of these services rely on the commitment, dedication and ability of each and every member of staff, who on a daily basis make a difference to the lives of our customers. “At the core of the strategy is the recognition that the continuing ability of the council to achieve this aim depends ultimately on the skills and commitment of our employees.

“The strategy sets out a plan for the key activities and actions over the next five years which will support and drive the development of staff.” The People Strategy has been developed in conjunction with the Customer Service Strategy and the Improvement Strategy and is key to the successful delivery of the council’s Corporate Plan. It has been developed in conjunction with key stakeholders including senior management, staff and Trade Unions. Further information about the People Strategy and what it means for you will be communicated to you through your service manager over the coming weeks.

To view the People Strategy, please go to www.westlothian.gov.uk/jobs/mytoolkit1/

Equality key to People Strategy One of the key elements of the People Strategy is to further support equality of opportunity in the workplace. The council’s equality outcomes were published in 2013 and include a number of commitments to tackle inequality and promote diversity. Building on the outcomes that relate to the council as an employer, the People Strategy is underpinned by a focus on promoting and celebrating equality and diversity throughout the council by consulting, engaging and acting on the views and concerns of employees.

Already, work has begun to develop a new learning strategy for council employees in relation to equality and diversity. Later this year, an exercise to better understand the profile of our employees in relation to equality will be undertaken, enabling more focused efforts to tackle the most persistent inequalities. We will continue to promote equality through events and initiatives throughout the life of the Strategy, the first of which took place in February to celebrate LGBT History Month 2014.

help organisations to: tackle discrimination; promote equality and promote good relations. Areas covered by the “protected characteristics” of the Act are: n Age n Disability n Gender n Gender identity n Religion or belief n Marriage and civil partnership n Pregnancy & Maternity n Sexual orientation n Race

The Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland are designed to

The West Lothian Disability Equality Forum, who were instrumental in creating the council’s equality outcomes.

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Teamwork top for council staff Thank you to all staff who took part in the council’s 2013 employee survey. The survey has been conducted annually since 2009 and is one of the most important ways the council has of finding out what employees think about their work. Strong results were received in the Teamwork, Workforce Planning and Reward and Recognition categories, with more than 75% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing. Satisfaction with Leadership and Management showed the biggest overall improvement with results increasing by 7% to 69%. Results in all of the seven key areas surveyed were at 65% and above in the strongly agree/agree categories. The overall response rate for this year’s survey was 49%. Acting head of corporate services, Julie Whitelaw added: “Thank you to all staff who took the time to share their views in the most recent employee survey.

and feedback and the part that this plays in enabling employees to contribute to the quality of their experience and performance at work.” Detailed results of the 2013 survey will be communicated to you through your service manager over the next few weeks, and these results will be used to develop a set of improvement strategies and action plans as required within each service area.

At this time, surveys undertaken in respect of teachers and schools’ staff are structured differently and take place at separate times to coincide with various external inspection requirements. The next council employee survey will take place in May 2014 and will be targeted across all employee groups with the publication of the results from all service areas in July/August 2014.

Survey results are in... The 2013 employee survey was issued to a sample of staff around the council and had 20 questions spread over seven key areas. The percentages who agree or strongly agree in each area are show right:

“The council has long recognised the essential role of employees in enabling the delivery of high quality and award winning services, and the employee survey provides excellent feedback on what seems to be working well and what may need further improvement and development.

Workforce Planning 79% Reward & Recognition 77% Leadership & Management 69% Involvement & Empowerment 73% Teamwork 81% L&D, Performance Review 65% Equality & Diversity 71%

“The council’s People Strategy recognises the importance of good communication

Windows 7 Migration All council desktop personal computers and laptops are set to be upgraded to Windows 7. Currently our computers run on the Windows XP operating system, which Microsoft will stop supporting in April 2014. Tight deadlines are in place to ensure that all council computers are upgraded in time. An operating system is the set of software which allows programmes such as Outlook, Internet Explorer and Excel to work on your computer. The upgrade is being deployed on a building by building basis, with IT Services westlothian.gov.uk

working closely with each service to ensure that all business critical applications are tested prior to the upgrade. Each service has identified champions to work with IT Services to ensure a smooth migration. As per the Council Information Management Policy, all council business information must be appropriately filed and not permanently stored on your computer, where it will be deleted during the upgrade process.

Microsoft Office will also be upgraded to Office 2010 as part of the same process. Where possible the upgrade is being carried out overnight to minimise disruption as each upgrades takes approximately three hours. Any questions should be directed to windows7upgrade@westlothian.gov.uk.

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Joint working cleans up Council staff have been teaming up with school pupils to clean up Seafield Staff from NETS, Land and Countryside Service and Education Services have been working with pupils from Seafield Primary to keep the community tidy.

environment for everyone in the village.”

As part of a project for P5 and P6, pupils were challenged to think about how to improve their own community.

The Junior Environment Team contacted the NETS, Land and Countryside Service to find out how to request dog waste bins, explaining the idea and the reasons why they thought it was a good way to help keep the village cleaner.

Class teacher, Miss Halliday, said: “Many fantastic ideas were thought of, but one in particular seemed to resonate with many of the pupils in the class: the need for more dog waste bins in Seafield.

Representatives from the team visited the school to speak to the young people and to find out where they would like to see extra bins and whether the existing bins could be moved.

“The children felt that there needed to be more as there are many dog owners in the village and not everyone cleans up after their pets. The pupils thought having more bins would encourage a cleaner

Head teacher, Mrs Morris, added: “We were absolutely delighted with the support that we received from our colleagues in the NETS, Land and Countryside Service. It is a super example of partnership working

Do you Love West Lothian? A new campaign is aiming to encourage local residents and groups to love their local area. The Love West Lothian campaign is set to launch, and aims to support a wide range of work designed to make West Lothian a better place to live, work and do business for us all. The initial launch will involve both Waste and NETS, Land and Countryside services with a focus on litter and recycling respectively. As the campaign develops, it aims to involve other council services, local 8

residents and community groups working to improve our environment under the Love West Lothian banner. It is hoped that by highlighting all the good work taking place will help create a greater sense of pride in the local area, making a positive difference for everyone. Look out for more information on Love West Lothian in the future.

as well as developing responsible young citizens. “The P5 and P6 pupils were very excited to find out that our request for additional dog waste bins would be going ahead. We now hope that dog owners in the local community will understand the impact that they are having on local children and the environment and clear up after their dogs.” NETS, Land and Countryside Service manager, Gareth Barwell, added: “We were very pleased to be able to support Seafield Primary School’s pupils with their project. “It is fantastic to see that young people care about their environment and keeping it clean and tidy.”

West Lothian is set to take part in World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour once more. At 8.30pm on Saturday 29 March, hundreds of millions of people will turn off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the world in a huge, symbolic show of support for action on climate change and for a more sustainable future. This year, the council has teamed up again with Historic Scotland to switch off the floodlights at Linlithgow Palace. Details of the event and other activities happening across West Lothian will be uploaded onto the council’s website at www.westlothian.gov.uk/1210/ climatechange/What-are-we-doing. For more information on Earth Hour go to www.earthhour.org westlothian.gov.uk


Game on for Broxburn Commonwealth Games mascot Clyde was guest of honour at Broxburn Primary recently. Clyde joined some of the staff and pupils who have been taking a lead in the school’s Commonwealth celebrations in the run up to the summer’s event, as well as presenting the school with a Game On Scotland plaque in recognition of the excellent progress in their games-related learning.

Head teacher Ian Harvey said: “We were delighted to welcome Clyde to Broxburn Primary and the pupils were very excited. Since the start of the new school session in August, the pupils of Broxburn Primary School have been engaging in a number of learning activities based around the context of the upcoming Commonwealth Games.”

Scams Hub Project West Lothian Council’s Trading Standards and Adult Protection units are working together with Victim Support Scotland and Police Scotland to assist local people identified as being potential victims of scams.

Ed Machin from Trading Standards and Wendy Ramsay from Adult Protection

The trading standards National Scams Hub, a project funded by the National Trading Standards Board, has provided information on a number of people in the West Lothian area who may have positively responded to scam mail shots or scam phone calls. To keep people safe from the risk of further financial harm in West Lothian, information packs will be sent to those

identified as potentially having been targeted by scams. Where appropriate, follow-up home visits will be made by officers from the project partnership to provide advice and assistance to prevent these individuals from becoming the victims of further scams. Each year mass marketing scams cause approximately £3.5 billion worth of detriment to UK consumers.

Three of a kind New Head Teachers have taken charge at three West Lothian primary schools. Nicola Thompson has taken up the reins at Mid Calder Primary School, Iain McDermott is now in charge of Whitdale Primary School, Whitburn and Jane Livingston has been appointed as Head Teacher of Low Port Primary School in Linlithgow.

Nicola Thompson Nicola joined West Lothian Council in 2002 and has worked at Holy Family and Carmondean primary schools as well as a secondment as Health and Citizenship Development Officer, supporting schools across West Lothian. She said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed as Head Teacher at Mid Calder Primary School. I am looking forward to working with the pupils, staff, parents and wider community to build on the existing strengths of the school and to provide the highest quality learning and teaching experience for all our children.”

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Iain McDermott Iain McDermott joins Whitdale Primary School as Head Teacher following three years as Joint Head Teacher for Greenrigg and Stoneyburn primary schools. Prior to this, Iain held Depute Head Teacher posts at Linlithgow and Windyknowe primary schools. He said: “I am looking forward to working closely with staff, pupils and parents to ensure that the best learning opportunities are provided in a safe, healthy and challenging environment for all of the children.”

Jane Livingston Jane Livingston joins Low Port Primary School after 19 years of teaching in West Lothian at nearby Springfield Primary first then Riverside Primary School in Livingston, where she served as Depute Head Teacher. She said: “I am delighted to be working with the pupils, parents and staff to continue to develop Low Port Primary School. I am looking forward to working with such a dedicated team to ensure that the children are happy, safe and challenged in their learning.”

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Help for charity appeals A trio of good causes were helped by council staff over the Festive period. The West Lothian Toy Appeal, the Cat and Dog Food Appeal and the Open Door Accommodation Project were all well supported by council workers this year. Big-hearted council staff dug deep to support the good causes, which do a huge amount of good work in West Lothian throughout the year. A large amount of donations were handed over for the West Lothian Toy Appeal. The event is now in its 30th year and helps around 1,000 children from around 400 families each year, including those from the most socially or financially disadvantaged families in the area. Helen Kelly from Members Services, who co-ordinates the appeal in the council, said: “Thanks to everyone who donated to the West Lothian Toy Appeal this year. The toys are greatly appreciated by some of the most disadvantaged children in West Lothian, and really help brighten young lives at Christmas. We were really pleased at the amount of brand new toys donated this year, especially given the financial climate.” Open Door provides accommodation, information and support to homeless single 16 - 21 year olds in West Lothian.

Open Door director Rob Jahoda said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kind donations to the Open Door Accommodation Project’s Christmas Card campaign. Your support enabled us to raise in excess of £1,900, providing the young people we support with the opportunity to participate in Christmas activities and receive a small gift.”

There has been a tradition of using horticulture as a therapeutic activity dating back to when Bangour Village Hospital had a garden centre. When the Village Hospital closed in 2000 Mental Health Day Services continued to provide this in

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Staff also gave generously to the annual Cat and Dog appeal to support neglected animals in West Lothian. The Dogs Trust and West Lothian Cats Protection (WLCP) both were grateful for the donations of food, blankets, treats and toys. WLCP branch co-ordinator Roz Fleming said: “On behalf of the volunteers I would like to thank you for your extremely kind donation. It is nice to know that we are in your thoughts and although we are only a small branch, we will endeavour to do what we can, when we can.”

Brock Garden Centre has become a social enterprise

It is now running as a social enterprise selling plants and garden furniture to the public whilst continuing to provide a therapeutic working environment for people who suffer from severe and enduring mental health problems.

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Open Door also apologised to everyone who experienced difficulties when trying to donate, with steps being taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

Growing concern The Brock Garden Centre, behind the Strathbrock Partnership Centre in Broxburn, was set up by West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership’s Joint Mental Health Day Services.

Cat a

Crofthead Farm. The experience of these activities gave the insights and motivation to establish a similar activity in Broxburn, in the partnership centre. Acting manager James Hughes said: “We believe The Brock will become more self-sustaining financially, and on a more practical level will be fully integrated into the community. We have enjoyed fantastic support from the local community which has enabled us to become so well established in a short time.” The Brock Garden Centre is open Mondays Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10am to 2.30pm for anyone looking to support the project by buying plants, or please call 01506 771888 for more information.

Welfare reform changes Scottish Welfare Fund Crisis Grants can provide people with a safety net in the event of a disaster or emergency. Help could be available for anyone on benefits, or a low income, and struggling to cope financially. Community Care Grants can help people who need essential household items such as a cooker or a washing machine. For more information, call: 01506 773440, visit your local council Customer Information Service (CIS) centre or see www.westlothian.gov.uk/ welfarereform

Disability Living Allowance Changes have been made to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by the Department for Work and Pensions. The change will have an impact on existing DLA claimants, where a fixed term award is coming to an end, they are approaching age 16 or where there is a change in the person’s care or mobility needs. These claimants will be invited to make a claim for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). For more information, visit: www.westlothian. gov.uk/adviceshop, call 01506 283000 (option 3) or email advice.shop@westlothian.gov.uk

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Depute role for Graeme

Congratulations to...

Graeme Struthers has been appointed as the council’s new Depute Chief Executive for Corporate, Operational and Housing Services. The previous Head of Corporate Services first joined the council in 1999, and has held a number of posts within the council since.

“I look forward to working with our partners such as police and fire, and especially staff from around the council.

He is married with two children, and enjoys mountain biking and watching his hometown football club, Falkirk, play in his free time.

“West Lothian is a high performing council, and this is down to the commitment and dedication of staff. I aim to play my part in keeping staff motivated to deliver the best possible service for our residents.”

Graeme said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to take on the role of Depute Chief Executive for Corporate, Operational and Housing Services. “It’s a challenging time for the council, with issues such as the current financial restrictions and welfare reform. It’s also a time for opportunities, with projects such as our depot modernisation programme set to improve the way we work on behalf of local residents.

Chief Executive Graham Hope added: “I’m very pleased to welcome Graeme Struthers into his new role.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the recent Inside News survey.

Of those who responded, 86% always or regularly read Inside News and 75% rated their overall satisfaction with Inside News as good or excellent. Inside News was rated as being easy, or very easy, to read by 80% of respondents, with 73% rating the publication as interesting and informative. Staff singled out the interesting range of news from a variety of council services, the colourful layout and easy to read text, and personal stories from staff as what they like best about Inside News. Issues involving accessing Inside News electronically and the timeliness of some articles were what you liked least. Inside News became mainly electronic in 2011 as a cost saving measure, with only a limited number of paper and laminated copies produced for staff who do not have access to a computer. All staff with computer access should be able to view the .pdf version available via the council

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Lesley (Watson) Donegan, Senior HR Adviser, on her recent marriage to Doctor Tony at Pollokshields Burgh Halls.

“Graeme’s knowledge and experience make him a strong asset for the council, and I’m confident he will play a vital role in driving forward services for the benefit of local residents.”

Inside scoop on survey results A total of 179 responses were received, and the feedback received will help shape Inside News in the future.

Revenues staff members Cameron and Suzanne (Higgins) Young on their recent wedding at the Vue in Bathgate. The happy couple have a total of 37 years of service with the council between them.

intranet, so please contact the IT service desk if you are unable to open this version. Corporate Communications manager Evelyn Cargill said: “We would like to thank all staff who took part in our recent survey, and we are pleased that the vast majority of you feel Inside News is a useful and informative publication. “Inside News is your newsletter, and your views are vital as we look to develop the publication going forward. In response to your comments, we aim to make extra effort to include more news from under-represented service areas, increase the amount of people stories from staff and give more focus to articles on new developments where possible. “If you would like to suggest a story for Inside News, please contact us at media@westlothian.gov.uk or call 01506 282007. “We would especially like to hear good news from staff such as births, marriages and graduations, so we can share your good news with colleagues across the council.”

Tracy (Osbourne) Young from Operational Services on her recent marriage to fireman John at the Vue in Bathgate. Helen Kelly from Members Services and fiancé Cameron McConnachie from Operational Services on their upcoming wedding in August. Mark Emms from IT Services and his wife Laura on the birth of their daughter, Cara. Graduate architect Raphael Dunbar and his wife Khutso on the birth of their son, Tilion Thapelo. Teres Isaksson from Corporate Communications and partner Paul on the birth of their daughter, Elise.

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Area Services staff Graham Whitelaw, Charlene Duncan, Ross Paterson and Les Wilson.

Volunteers clean up at awards A partnership project involving council staff earns a top award for impressive volunteering work. Staff from Area Service’s Regeneration and Employability teams were part of the Eliburn Park clean-up project which won the Employer Supported Volunteering award at the recent West Lothian Voluntary Sector Gateway Volunteer Awards 2013. The team worked in partnership with the 14th Livingston Scouts on a project that brought together the public, private and voluntary sectors, with council Environmental Wardens, DIY firm B&Q and the Woodland Trust also supporting the project. After two hours of hard work, 25 bags of rubbish had been collected, and the park looked much tidier. The success of the

collaboration between the different sectors has already led to discussions about making the clean up an annual event. Challenge co-ordinator, policy officer, Graham Whitelaw, said: “It was a great day. This was a challenge completed by the community, for the community. I was really pleased to see some of the scout’s parents along to help too.” Head of area services, Steve Field, added: “Well done to everyone involved on winning this award. I’m proud that Area Services staff members helped organise such a fantastic volunteering event that brought together a range of groups for such a worthwhile cause.”

Fairtrade Zone Status confirmed Growing support for Fairtrade locally has helped West Lothian retain Fairtrade Zone status. The Fairtrade Foundation has renewed the area’s Fairtrade Zone status until November 2015, in recognition of the tireless work by the West Lothian Fairtrade Steering Group. Adam Gardner, Communities Campaigns Manager for the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It has been a huge pleasure to learn of all that has happened in West Lothian since Fairtrade status was awarded. It’s clear from your renewal form that Fairtrade

in West Lothian has been going from strength-to-strength.” A huge celebration took place at The Centre, Livingston on Thursday 27 February to mark the second West Lothian Fairtrade Day. The event, which is part of Fairtrade Fortnight, provided a focus for Fairtrade activities across West Lothian, featuring students from West Lothian College as well as a variety of Fairtrade and ethical goods stalls.

For more information, please visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/fairtrade or contact douglas.grierson@westlothian.gov.uk

Key Social Care legislation is changing A new law called the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 comes into effect from Tuesday, 1 April 2014. The change will introduce new rules and principles for people who receive social care support, such as, personal care or day support. From Tuesday, 1 April, people who are eligible for social care support following either a new assessment or a review of their care and support, will be offered four choices of how they can receive that support. People who are already receiving Social Care will not be affected until their support is reviewed. For more information on Self-Directed Support and what it might mean for you or someone you know, please visit the West Lothian Council website: www.westlothian.gov.uk/selfdirectedsupport.

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: media@westlothian.gov.uk

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Inside News issue 95