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ISSUE 92 June 2013

Newsletter for the employees of West Lothian Council

Launch of Celebrating Success Enter now




The closing date is Friday 28 June See pages 14 & 15 for details on how to enter.


£1.65 million Villages Improvement Fund launched A new £1.65 million boost is being given to West Lothian communities during the next five years. The Villages Improvement Fund will be open to 26 of the county’s smaller communities and aims to improve the local environment.

Chief Executive’s column Welcome to the June edition of Inside News. This edition of Inside News highlights some initiatives which the council is progressing

The fund has two elements – a shop front improvement scheme and a small village improvement fund. The shop frontage improvement scheme will operate in a similar way to the schemes running in West Lothian’s traditional town centres and provide a grant of up to 50% of the cost of works to a maximum of £750.

n Investment in community provision such as projects which engage and support young people and other local community facilities.

Small scale village improvements and initiatives include: n Investment in physical improvements to the streetscape eg, seating, cycle stands, direction signs, village gateways, planting and soft landscaping.

Business Growth Advisor, Jim Henderson, said: “The fund aims to provide a boost for West Lothian villages and local traders. It also aims to promote a pride of place and provide an opportunity for communities to engage and support their young people.”

Bill Heggarty from Stoneyburn Community Council and Jim Henderson.

to encourage young people into work including the Skills Training Programme and apprentice schemes. It also highlights awards received by current apprentices and the success of Operational Services in becoming an accredited NPORS training centre. As you will all know, there have been wideranging changes to Welfare Reform. Many council staff are on hand to assist residents affected by the changes. On pages 8 and 9 of this edition, two of our colleagues provide a first hand insight into how they are playing their part to help customers. I’m delighted that this year’s Celebrating Success has now been launched. Celebrating Success offers each service area a unique opportunity to receive recognition for their innovation and commitment from their fellow colleagues. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Celebrating Success, making this year’s festivities a little more special. There have been several changes to this year’s event, which will hopefully provide teams across the council with an added incentive to submit entries. The closing date for entries is Friday 28 June so there is plenty of time to discuss ideas with your team and enter online.

GrahamHope Hope Graham Chief Executive Chief Executive

Technical Specialist Fraser Cooper and Trainee Analyst Haylee Smith help set up the new system.

E-link to a meeting-free future

New PC-based videoconferencing software has been launched. The room based facilities have been installed in the Civic Centre and County Buildings. The system can also be installed on users’desktops, smartphones and tablets and around 45 people are currently using the system. However the system can be expanded to accommodate other users.

County Buildings, which works well for groups of people. However, the system can be installed on a desktop which is popular for individuals. The system can be expanded to accommodate as many users as we need and I’m sure it is a service that will become more and more popular in the future.”

Videoconferencing works both internally within the council and with external organisations. The purpose of the system is to reduce the need for staff travel, to reduce environmental impact associated with travel, and to improve staff communication and efficiency.

How to use the system:

Julie Whitelaw, acting head of coporate services, said:“Those using the service have been nominated by their services as being likely to make use of videoconferencing. They have also had the correct software installed on their PCs. To date we have installed room-based systems in the Civic Centre Emergency Planning Room and in

If someone wants to use the room-based systems in the Civic Centre or County Buildings then they need to book the meeting room that has the system installed in it. IT Services can provide an overview on how to use the system beforehand if required. If you are interested in using videoconferencing on your PC, contact the IT Service Desk to get the application and webcam installed. IT Services will provide training on how to use the system. Contact the IT Service desk on 01506 282828.

Paul out in front for Glasgow 2014 Paul Stark, Active Schools Coordinator, recently found out that he has been selected to help Glasgow 2014 prepare for the Commonwealth Games. He has been chosen as a frontrunner - one of a number of volunteer positions who will assist the organising committee prepare for Scotland’s biggest ever sporting and cultural event. Paul will be supporting the effort to get the games ready as one of the interviewers who will help to select the 15,000 volunteers that will be required for the 11 days of competition during July and August 2014.

Support Pat’s monster challenge The Criminal Justice team’s Pat Kelly recently took on a gruelling challenge to raise money for a charity cause close to his heart. He took part in last month’s Maggie’s Monster Bike & Hike which raises money for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres. Pat’s wife Sharon McGilvray died at the age of 38 from a brain tumour and the charity is very important to Pat. Pat said: “Sharon was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour and it was four years before she passed away. In that time, and following her death, Maggie’s offered a very high level of support to me and my family. “I trained for the event by cycling to and from work to my home in Edinburgh,

mountain biking at Glentress and walking around 20 miles per day each weekend from the end of January. I completed my first event last year and this year I finished it in around 15 hours. So far, I have personally raised about £750. In total my team hope to break last year’s total of £4,500. Hopefully we will raise more money with a planned ceilidh later this year.” This was the 10th Monster Bike & Hike. In its first nine years it has raised over £4.8 million and nearly 6,000 people have taken part.

Paul’s role as an Active Schools Coordinator in West Lothian involves working with school staff and other volunteers to provide opportunities for children and young people to take part in regular physical activity. During last year, Active Schools provided over 7,000 after school activity sessions for school children in addition to the 108 primary school festivals and 28 secondary school sports events. “I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen to assist with the recruitment of volunteers for the games. It will be the biggest event Scotland has ever seen and even though I have a very small role, I am proud to be able to help Glasgow 2014 make the games a success.”

To donate to Pat’s charity cause, visit:

Help promote equality in the workplace The Employee Equality Network helps the council promote equality in the workplace. If you would like to be part of a group of employees who help to develop council policy and procedure in a way that ensures equality and recognises and values the diversity of our employees then join the Network and get involved. Networks for Race, Disability, Flexible Working and Caring, Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) have been operating within the council for some time. We are now extending the remit to also incorporate issues of age, religion or belief and gender equality. Network members have the opportunity to share their experiences and views and influence equality related issues as it impacts on employment issues.

If you are interested in getting involved, would like to be added to the distribution list to receive updates on the Network, or want more information, please email

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Changing face of HR Services

HR currently provides a comprehensive range of services and advice and support designed to meet the needs of the council’s services and business requirements.

Following a review, service delivery has been re-designed to improve the ability of HR Services to meet the council’s changing business requirements and priorities. The aim is to ensure that HR continues to focus on delivering a high quality, business driven service and is able to pro-actively support the council’s modernisation programme and service priorities. The main changes that customers will notice are: n Mytoolkit HR have been working to improve online resources to make it easier for customers to access the information they need. The Mytoolkit site has been updated to make it simpler for managers and employees to navigate and this should be the first point of call for all HR queries. The site is where you will find information on all the council’s employment policies, procedures and forms. FAQs have been developed that answer the most common questions asked by managers and employees. n HR Service Desk Tel: 01506 28 22 22 The introduction of a new central HR telephone number, 01506 28 22 22 providing a first point of contact for receiving and dealing with calls and enquiries from line managers and employees. The HR Service Desk has been designed

to enable calls to be directed to the most appropriate team, providing a more responsive service; callers will be connected with someone who will help them to resolve their enquiry. Where more complex advice is required the enquiry will be referred to the relevant subject expert. HR Service Desk options are: n Payroll n Recruitment n Sickness Absence n Specialist Policy Advice n General HR Queries

n HR 21 Employee & Manager Self Service The self service functionality of HR21 has been increased to allow managers and employees to undertake more HR transactions online. Using HR21, Managers will be able to advise HR of an employee’s leaving date and approve/decline requests for overtime. Employees will be able to update personal details, submit a claim for overtime and produce an electronic payslip on a monthly basis.

If there is ongoing dialogue/work required as a result of a query, the manager/ employee who made the enquiry will have direct contact with the Adviser allocated to the case. All options available via the HR Service Desk have a corresponding email address where queries will be dealt with on a daily basis.

Implementation The new HR Service Desk was piloted in Corporate Services and Finance and Estates during March, and this pilot was extended further to include Operational Services in May. An evaluation and review of the service will be undertaken prior to the Service Desk being introduced on a phased basis to other service areas.

A pilot of HR21 commenced in Corporate Services and Finance and Estates on 1 April and a robust review of the functionality of the system will be undertaken prior to the upgraded system being rolled out to other service areas later in the year.

Feedback: In order to ensure that the changes are meeting our customer’s needs, during the pilot managers and employees will be

asked to complete an online questionnaire. The questionnaire will seek to gather views on accessibility and usability of the HR Service Desk and HR21 and will be used to ensure that processes continue to meet customer’s needs.

Making IT easier... IT Services are working hard to bring you a new way of contacting them and keeping up to date with your IT calls and requests. We will be launching a new selfservice portal making IT... EASIER FOR YOU to: • Log support calls and requests for change and new services • Track your calls and requests and view status updates • Access on-line help and support documents


EASIER FOR IT to keep you informed of: • the latest news in IT Services • major works impacting the IT services that you use • planned maintenance LOOK OUT for further details over the coming months on when it will be available for you and how you can use it to enhance your IT experience.

Toge t mak her we w e IT e i asier ll

Training award for Operational Services

The Learning and Development team within Operational Services has recently achieved a major success in becoming an accredited training centre with the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS). NPORS is one of the UK’s leading accrediting bodies for plant and construction offering training in Forklift truck, Tractor, 360/180 Excavator, CAT tools and much more which is recognised by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). The main objective of becoming accredited to NPORS standard is to allow Operational Services a flexible approach to meet the needs and demands of the services ensuring employees have the skills, knowledge and ability to operate plant

and equipment competently. Delivering the training needs internally will also make a saving on training costs which will mean more investment in employee development. Jim Jack, head of operational services, said: “This is an excellent achievement for the L&D team which, as well as ensuring compliance with Health and Safety legislation, demonstrates our commitment to investing in employees to deliver top quality services to the community.

“It also emphasises the continual review of delivering mandatory requirements at the best possible value.” The first programme being delivered under the NPORS accreditation has been the one day Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) training and assessment (group picture above). It is intended that all plant and construction training will be delivered in-house under the NPORS banner ensuring employees receive a nationally recognised certificate for demonstrating competence.

Watts up on the roof ? West Lothian Council is now firmly part of the solar panel revolution after installing 117 panels on the roof of the Civic Centre in Livingston.

The 30kW solar PV system will generate around 20,000kW of electricity every year and reduce the council’s carbon emissions by around 10 tonnes per annum. The system will save the council around £1,800 per year and generate an annual income from the Feed in Tariff scheme of around £3,100. The installation is being carried out by the council’s own in-house MCS accredited team who are part of Building Services. Two apprentices have also worked on the installation of the panels to boost their skills for future projects. The project follows the successful installation of a 10kW 40 panel system at the Sutherland Building at Beecraigs last year. Jack Orr, estates manager said: “The use of solar panels and other renewable technologies will help us to reduce our

carbon emissions. The council recognises the need to be part of the positive climate change agenda and our Renewable Energy Strategy sets out where technologies may be implemented across the council’s assets. “Technology is constantly advancing and we aim to be at the forefront of such changes.

“The added benefit of installing the system is that the project has helped develop and build on the skills and experience of our workforce.” West Lothian Council has a wider programme of Solar PV installations across other council properties which will begin later this year. 9 5

Support the Channel swim Staff from Housing, Construction and Building Services joined representatives from house builder Lovell to inspect the new homes in Whitburn.

Building for the future in Whitburn Whitburn is the latest West Lothian town to welcome the arrival of brand new council homes following the formal handover to tenants. The homes are part of West Lothian Council’s new build housing programme. Sixty four houses and 52 flats with associated parking and landscaping have been built at Dixon Terrace, Whitburn. The new homes will be a mixture of two storey semi detached properties, bungalows and two storey cottage flats.

Before building work started, the site had been unused and lies near the Heartlands area. The Dixon Terrace development in Whitburn is part of the second phase of 545 new build council houses which are being built at eight sites over the next two years.

Foods with hidden sugar So, you’ve made it your mission to follow a healthier lifestyle. You’ve been exercising more, cutting out the fats, limiting your salt intake and staying away from the sweets. All good? Not so. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you might still be eating far more sugar than you think. Sugar comes in many different guises and much of it is hidden in your favourite foods. Manufacturers often add different kinds of sugars during the canning or packaging process. Like salt, sugar can also be used as a preservative to extend shelf life.

New Acting Appointments Graeme Struthers

Following the recent retirement of John Hill, Graeme Struthers has been appointed Acting Depute Chief Executive to cover the responsibilities of the post on an interim basis.

Julie Whitelaw

Julie Whitelaw has been appointed Acting Head of Corporate Services on an interim basis.

Carol Johnston

Carol Johnston has been appointed Acting Chief Solicitor, on an interim basis.



hea th at work

Two West Lothian Council employees are part of a five man West Lothian Channel Swim Team who are swimming the English Channel on 1 July in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Andrew Millar, MCMC Officer in Area Services, and Darren Marr, PE Teacher at Inveralmond Community High School are hoping to raise £5,000 for the charity and have been training for the 21 mile challenge over the past six months. Working as a team, each swimmer will swim for one hour before the next relay swimmer takes over. The team will have to cope with the cold water and the numerous jellyfish in what is the busiest shipping lane in the world. No wetsuits are allowed to be worn in the race with only swimming trunks and one swimming cap permitted. You can follow the progress of the team at westlothianchannelswimteam If you would like to sponsor us, please visit

The World Health Organisation recommends consuming no more than 10 percent of your daily kilojoules in sugar. If one teaspoon of sugar equals four grams, this means your total sugar intake per day should be no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar. This may sound generous enough, but if you think that one can of soda alone already equals 40 grams (or 10 teaspoons of sugar) or one cup of your favourite cereal could contain up to 20 grams (or 5 teaspoons of sugar), you don’t really have much to work with.

New Head of Education appointed Jim Cameron was previously head teacher at St Margaret’s Academy in Livingston and will have responsibility for schools’ support, education development and will lead the pre-school and primary school sectors. Jim has taken up his new role following the retirement of Mary Rankine earlier this month. The former geography and guidance teacher had previously taught in Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire. He said: “I’m delighted to be taking up this new role and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. “With the new curriculum for excellence this is an exciting and challenging time in education and I look forward to working with elected members, staff, parents, partners and pupils to ensure that every young person is able to achieve their potential.”

Council services support young people into work Young people who participated in the council’s Skills Training Programme were presented with certificates recently. Dawn Roden, project manager, More Choices More Chances (MCMC), explained: “The Skills Training programme offers young people aged 16 to 18 an opportunity to gain valuable work experience within a council service for six months. It is one of the steps a young person might take on their journey into employment or work.

20 trainees currently on placement within council services. The programme couldn’t run without the continued support of the many council services which take in the trainees and give them a real job work experience. We would like to say a big thank you to our colleagues for supporting the programme.

“The programme is now in its fourth year, with an average of 40 young people completing the training each year with

“We are keen to hear from any services or teams who would consider taking on a young person to give them this valuable

Fraser makes the finals!

Roads Services Apprentice makes finals of APSE UK Awards Ceremony 2013 Congratulations to Fraser Keast (Roads Service Apprentice) who was runnerup at the UK wide APSE Highways & Street lighting Apprentice of the Year Awards 2013. The apprentice awards are specific to front line service areas and support excellence in training standards within local authorities and their partner organisations throughout the UK. Roads and Transportation Manager Graeme Malcolm said “Fraser has been an exemplar during his apprenticeship.

“His commitment and enthuasism to learning has been excellent and I’m sure that this will continue as his career develops with the council. The support given to him by his supervisor and colleagues on a day-to-day should also be acknowledged.” West Lothian Council also received an award in recognition of its continued support in the development of apprentices. Andy Johnston, Roads Manager, picked up the award on behalf of the council.

opportunity for work experience to help them on their journey to employment.” Congratulations to George Campbell, Fleet Services and Carol Murray, Bathgate Early Years Centre who also received Mentor Certificates from Chief Executive Graham Hope. George is pictured back-row, third from left. To take part in the Skills Training programme contact Dawn Roden on 01506 281938 or email

Emma joins the ranks Housing and Building Services’ newest recruit has joined the ranks at Armadale Housing Office. Emma McKendrick is the first Apprentice for Housing and will work to obtain the Chartered Institute of Housing Level 2 Certificate and the Modern Apprenticeship in Housing (Level 2 SVQ) qualifications during her time as an apprentice. Training will comprise of in house and external training providers for all aspects of the apprenticeship, with verification undertaken by external providers through West Lothian College. Emma will benefit from the involvement of frontline at the area office and other aspects of Housing which are more centrally based at the Civic Centre. Emma’s apprenticeship will run for a period of 18 months, during which she will be provided with an insight into all aspects of Housing.

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Dealing with benefit changes Teams from across the council are helping local people who are affected by the benefit changes which are currently being introduced. A corporate Welfare Reform working group provides a council-wide approach to ensure there is a coordinated response.

Donald Forrest, head of finance and estates, who is leading the Welfare Reform working group, explained: “Welfare Reform is having a significant effect on local people and it is changing the way that some services operate. West Lothian Advice Shop and Housing Services are just two of the many areas where there is a high degree of support for people who are directly affected by benefit changes. “I would like to thank the teams who have been involved in supporting local people, community groups, community planning partners and the voluntary sector through the initial changes.” Welfare Reform changes are having an impact on the work of staff like Anne Wood from the Advice Shop and Alison Laing who is a Community Based Housing Officer. Inside News will be running features on staff and their experiences over the coming issues and we hope that you find this interesting.

Alison Laing, Community Based Housing Officer,

Housing, Construction and Building Services As a Housing Officer I am responsible for managing the council’s housing stock and rent arrears within my area. A large part of the role is to maximise income through effective rent collection, minimising arrears and by quickly turning around vacant properties so they are empty for the shortest possible time.

I provide advice and assistance to tenants on a wide range of other tenancy issues including repairs, mutual exchanges and antisocial behaviour. The introduction of the benefit changes in April, which is the first of many changes facing council tenants through the Welfare Reform Act, is proving to be a very challenging time for Housing staff. A typical day involves working through cases showing an arrears balance. I try to engage with tenants via traditional methods such as telephone calls, letters and home visits however increasingly successful communication is now through text and email. I speak with a tenant who is struggling to make ends meet due to the new benefit changes. He is self-employed, has a very low income and is quite distressed by his situation. I advise him on the options available and reassure him that I will do everything I can to help. I put him forward for a Discretionary Housing Payment, which is managed by the Revenues team, and we agree to speak again once he has explored financial help from his family.


Social Work advise me that one of my tenants, a vulnerable adult who has not been in contact for some time, has been traced by the Police and is safe and living with family abroad. I notify Allocations and start the process of re-letting the property. Then a young tenant, who is worried about his rent arrears, comes into the office to see me and I meet him with a Homeless Prevention Officer. Working alongside colleagues from the Advice Shop and Revenues, every effort will be made to support him. I complete a Home Aid referral for a new tenant with mental health issues. He has been re-housed due to Homelessness and has no furniture and very low income. I hope to help get him settled into his new home. I then meet a new tenant at a vacant property and show her around the house. I advise her of her rights and responsibilities as a tenant and we sign her Tenancy Agreement and complete the sign up process there and then. I also help her complete a Housing Benefit form and, having identified a minor repair issue, will liaise with Building Services to have this resolved. The role of Housing Officer is very different from what it used to be. It requires a great deal of partnership working with colleagues from across the council, to resolve issues which are often extremely distressing for our tenants. No two days are ever the same and we never know when we will be faced with an emergency situation such as a fire or flood. It is extremely satisfying to achieve a positive outcome and make a real difference to the lives of individuals and families.

Anne Wood, Information Advice Officer,

The Advice Shop

I start the morning with shop duty - this is where our customers can drop in at anytime and see an advisor. I find this very interesting as no two enquiries are the same. The first customer I speak to called in with an ESA50 form - customers have to complete this when they claim Employment and Support Allowance. Entitlement to this benefit is subject to a medical assessment, I complete the form for the customer, who has quite complex mental health issues and dyslexia. Next I deal with an enquiry about the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The lady is very worried that she will lose her benefit. I explain the qualifying criteria for PIP. It certainly sounds like she should continue to qualify under the new rules. I reassured her that whatever happens, she can come back into the Advice Shop and we will assist her with the new form, and if she is refused PIP, we would be happy to help her with an appeal: and that she will not be affected by the change in benefits until at least 2015 due to her circumstances.


After lunch, I check the rota and note I’m on call logs. When a customer has an enquiry that doesn’t require them to complete any forms or see someone face to face, they can call the Advice Shop and they will be put on a call log, and an advisor will call them back within 24 hours. Over the last few weeks the call log has been very busy, particularly with people calling about the new under occupancy rules for housing benefit. Many customers are asking if there is anything they can do to avoid paying this, or if they can be exempt from this new rule. I notice that today there are a few calls of this nature, I call back to explain that there are very few exemptions, and most people will have their housing benefit reduced if they are assessed under the rules as having an extra bedroom. We are in close contact with colleagues across the council such as Housing, access2employment team, Adult Basic Education, and Social Work. Each week we contact customers who have previously visited the Advice Shop for help with claiming benefit. I’m delighted to hear that the third customer I call from the list was successful with her Attendance Allowance claim. I noticed she was on pension credit, so I asked her if she lived on her own, which she did, so I advised that she is actually entitled to more money and will now receive an additional premium on her pension credit.

For more information on welfare reform visit: In the next issue of Inside News we will focus on the Revenues Unit, CIS and CSC.

Better off Moving on from Welfare Reform As part of the continuing focus on anti-poverty, the Advice Shop is hosting a conference on Tuesday 18 June at Howden Park Centre. The conference is titled Better Off: Moving on from Welfare Reform and focuses on what has happened over the past year and what the partners see as the priorities for this coming year. It will give participants an opportunity to focus on the relationship between health and poverty. For more information or to book a place on this conference please contact the Advice Shop on 01506 283000 and choose option 3 or email welfarereformteam@

New Credit Union collection for Broxburn

West Lothian Credit Union has opened a new credit union collection point to serve the Broxburn, Uphall and the Winchburgh area. Operating from 11am to 12pm at Strathbrock Partnership Centre every Thursday morning, volunteers, all local exHalls employees, will be on hand to talk to people about how the credit union can help them to save, to access low cost affordable loans, and to access other services such as free insurance on loans and savings, funeral plans and prepaid debit cards. West Lothian Council supports the credit union bringing services out into this area, helping local people to save and to provide an affordable alternative to high interest payday or doorstep loans from companies charging as much as 4,214% APR. As the credit union is capped at charging a maximum 26.82% APR on loans - rates can go as low as 6.9% APR members are assured of a better deal than many banks can offer, particularly on loans under £5,000.

Visit or call 01506 436666 for more information.

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Happy retirement for John Hill

Depute Chief Executive John Hill retired in April after a distinguished career in local government. John, who is from Winchburgh, began his career with the former Lothian Regional Council in 1975 where he trained as an Accountant. He joined the newly formed West Lothian Council in 1996 as Business Services Manager before becoming Head of Operational Services in 2003. John had been Depute Chief Executive since October 2010 and his areas of responsibility spanned operational services, housing & building services and corporate services. Outwith West Lothian Council, John was the APSE Scotland National Secretary. Chief Executive Graham Hope said: “John had a long and successful career both with West Lothian Council and the former Lothian Region Council.

John with Jim Jack and Joe Drew at his retirement presentation.

New Head Teacher for Torphichen and Westfield Mary McKenzie has taken up the reins as the new Head Teacher at Torphichen and Westfield primary schools. Mrs McKenzie has been teaching for 14 years and started her career at Windyknowe Primary School in Bathgate, where she took a leadership role moving from Principal Teacher to an Acting Depute Head Teacher position.

“I’m sure everyone who had the pleasure of working with John over the years will join me in wishing him a very long and happy retirement.”

Triple success for Bathgate Partnership Centre

Bathgate Partnership Centre has been awarded its third award in two years after being named as winner of the community benefit category at the RICS Scotland Awards. The awards, organised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Scotland, recognises the achievements of land, property and construction. The award is the third accolade for the centre after receiving the Carbon Trust Scotland’s New Build Award and the Edinburgh Association of Architects Building of the Year 2012 award.

Laura Hall, who chaired the judging panel, said: “The attractive modern civic building is clearly appreciated by the local community and brings together council and community facilities. In doing so the centre has formed an outstanding space which is comfortable, welcoming and inspiring.”

Following this Mrs McKenzie moved to Uphall Primary School as Depute Head Teacher and then Acting Head Teacher. Mrs McKenzie said: “I’m very lucky as teaching is a job that I thoroughly enjoy. I have had great encouragement and support throughout my career from my family and colleagues. “I’m excited about my new role and I intend to build on the previous good practice established in both schools, I also have new ideas that I would like to take forward within the school and in partnership with the children, parents and the staff.” Centre staff joined Architect Jenni Shanks to celebrate the award. 10

Employee Benefits Make sure you’re on board

Whether you are planning a trip abroad or a break closer to home, the Employee Benefits Scheme can help staff save £££ this summer. The council has negotiated discounts with more than 90 local businesses and over 1,000 businesses nationally. Employees can enjoy discounts, cashback, special offers and competitions. Here’s a flavour of some seasonal discounts available to ALL staff:


St Nick pupils ‘like’ Miss Laura Pupils at St Nicholas Primary School, Broxburn, were over the moon for their teacher, Miss Laura Brown who recently made it through to the final 10 of this year’s Miss Scotland event. Laura received great support from the wider West Lothian community. Laura, who

comes from Uphall, but lives in Livingston, received thousands of ‘likes’ and messages of support along the way on her facebook page. “Thank you so much to everyone for the fantastic support,” said Laura. “It really does mean a lot to me.”

n 6% off at Thomas Cook n Up to 70% discount on 100,000 hotels worldwide n Save up to 40% at Alton Towers n Up to 15% off Brittany Ferries n Up to 14% off Cosmos Holidays n Save up to 13% on Virgin Holidays n Discounts on Airport parking

If you are planning on some DIY improvements this summer, staff will get: n 9% off at Homebase n 10% off at B&Q There are thousands of discounts available. All you need to do is visit: and enter your 7 digit employee number.

Apprentices Darren Moore, Jonathon Young and Gary Todd receive guidance from the specialist tiler.

Korean War Memorial project

Three apprentices are working on a unique project to enhance one of West Lothian’s local treasures. In July, a series of events has been arranged to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended the Korean War. The Korean Memorial Trust has organised a Memorial Dedication Service on Saturday 27 July at the Korean War Memorial, which is located in the Bathgate Hills. At the service, a brand new War Memorial will be unveiled which has been funded by the Korean War Memorial Trust. Architects

from Housing Construction and Building Services helped design the new memorial and the apprentices are working closely with a specialist tiler, who has flown in specially from South Korea, to position the new tiles on the roof of the memorial. The project is providing the young apprentices with a once in a life time opportunity to learn a unique skill. For more information contact George Downey on 01506 776551.

New GIS system is on the way The council has bought a new corporate Geographic Information System (GIS) which will enable us to consolidate all of the existing internal systems into a single Corporate GIS system and provide much more information. Customers will benefit from improved selfservice access through a map based route to source information and log enquiries. As the implementation progresses, details will be provided on the intranet and in the next issue of Inside News. For more information contact Stewart MacDougall, tel: 01506 281489 9 11

Hip Hip parade! Pride and passion swept through

Livingston in April at a special Freedom

and Homecoming Parade for the 1st

Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. Hundreds lined Almondvale Boulevard in the heart of Livingston to honour the troops who have just recently returned from a tour of Afghanistan. The 200 soldiers from 1 SCOTS joined invited guests for a reception at the Civic Centre. It was a family affair for George McGougan, from Housing, Construction and Building Services, whose son, Private Jack McGougan, was part of the 200 strong parade. His wife Faye is a housing support worker at Holmes Gardens in Broxburn and she is proudly pictured with Jack (left). The Facilities Management team played an important part on the day in helping to feed the troops (see picture top-centre). Corporal Colin McColl from Broxburn is pictured with his mother-in-law Heather Readman, who is Quality Standards Officer in Education (see picture far left).

Free retirement courses West Lothian Council, in partnership with Falkirk Council, is offering a free course for those considering retirement within the next 6-12 months. It aims to help delegates make the transition from working to retirement. Covering n Building a new lifestyle n Funding your new lifestyle n Making the most of your money n Protecting your assets Monday 12 August 2013 9.30am - 4.30pm, Falkirk. Non teaching staff

Unveiling the newly restored Lanthorn Pond The group behind Dedridge Environment Ecology Project (DEEP) celebrated the completion of their fourth project to restore the small pond close to the Lanthorn Community Centre in Dedridge, Livingston. The project involved the removal of silt and the formation of extensive areas of native, planting including yellow flag iris, reed sweet grass, true bulrush, to greater pond sedge and bog myrtle helping make the pond more attractive and

enhance its wildlife value. A timber viewing point has been constructed over part of the pond which is designed to look as if it is floating. Dedridge Environment Ecology Project (DEEP) was established by local people to promote environmental improvements to the Dedridge burn, ponds and surrounding woodland for the benefit of local people, and to attract funding from third-party organisations towards the cost of the group’s work.

Tuesday 3 September 2013 9.30am - 4.30pm Bathgate Partnership Centre. Open to all Thursday 5 September 2013 9.30am - 4.30pm, Falkirk. Teaching staff To book a place or any enquiries email or Tel: 01506 281395 / 01506 281410. 12

Flood Prevention Officer Graeme Hedger with members of DEEP.

Low Port 2013 Programme Every summer the Low Port Centre in Linlithgow runs an activity programme for young people aged between 8 and 16 years old. There are courses in a variety of activities both on and off the water, and for those who can’t make up their mind about what to try they also run a popular multiactivity course.

Four apprentices have joined the ranks of Finance and Estates Services. Procurement Apprentice Hayleigh Valentine (front row left) lives in Armadale and is a former Armadale Academy pupil. Procurement Apprentice Laura Harkins (front row centre) is from Westfield and attended St Kentigern’s Academy. Both began their apprenticeships in mid-March and have been busy carrying out general procurement administration tasks such as supplier spend analysis and maintenance of the Contract Register. Accounting Apprentice Jessica Main also lives in Armadale and was a fellow pupil of Hayleigh’s at Armadale Academy. Jessica’s tasks include auditing ESF Grant Claims and monitoring Finance and Estates/ Housing. Calum Kelly (front row right), Accounting Apprentice, lives in East Calder and attended West Calder High School. Calum’s responsibilities include receiving grant claim information and auditing the claims for the Scottish Government,

carrying out verification checks to ensure correct back-up is kept. The young apprentices are supported in their learning and development by experienced mentors. Accountant, Pamela Bell, mentors both Calum and Jessica. Category Manager Meriel Maddison mentors Hayleigh, whilst Category Manager, Steven Menzies, mentors Laura. Donald Forrest, head of finance and estates, said: “Our new apprentices have settled in extremely well and are already proving to be valuable members of the team. They will receive excellent training and guidance from experienced members of staff and I look forward to hearing about how they progress in their Jessica Main careers.”

ABE - Youth Achievement

The Adult Basic Education (ABE) team has been working in partnership with BLES (Blackburn Local Employment Service) for eight years to provide literacy and numeracy support to their trainees. This year the team has extended its partnership to include delivery of Youth Achievement Awards for all trainees. The awards are a recognised national scheme where young people are set personal challenges, carry out tasks relating to this and collect evidence. The awards are peer assessed by other young people. Jenny Reekie, senior literacies worker, said: “The awards are a positive step towards

employability and we will be assessing people for the bronze and silver awards. “Bronze level is about participating whereas silver involves taking some responsibility in a challenge. “Throughout the year we aim to work with about 80 trainees. The project fits in with the council’s priority of supporting more young people to gain accreditation.”

This year courses are running in the following activities: Sailing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Windsurfing, Climbing, Biking, Multi-activity, and John Muir Award. NB. In order to sign up for a Multi-Activity L2 course your child must have attended at least two Multi-Activity L1 courses.

St Ninian’s Primary School’s eco topic As part of their eco topic on Water, St Ninian’s Primary School’s Eco Committee visited Almond Housing, Craigshill recently. The pupils learned how a rainwater harvesting system is used to recycle water for flushing toilets and about other energy saving features of the Almond Housing Association’s building.

New service for families launched West Lothian Council has launched its new Families Included Service, which is being delivered with Community Planning Partners. The council allocated £887,000 earlier in the year to support the early intervention and prevention agenda, as a result the Families Included Service was formed which aims to improve the outcomes of some of the families in West Lothian facing multiple social problems. The new service will support families who have multiple and complex needs by focusing on early intervention to prevent potential issues from escalating. West Lothian Council is delighted to introduce this new service, in partnership with Community Planning members, for families. Families Included fits with the preventative and early intervention approach which has now become a priority for the council. 9 13


West Lothian Council



Welcome to this special issue of Inside News. 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. This edition aims to tell you everything you need to know about the 10th anniversary of Celebrating Success. Since the awards started in 2003, thousands of staff members have entered the awards which recognise the innovation, dedication and commitment of staff from across West Lothian Council. Celebrating Success is sponsored by

Who can enter the awards? Any team can and should enter.

Every day, teams carry out their duties effectively and deliver important services. We know that often teams feel that they are just doing their day jobs, but the Celebrating Success team is keen to make sure daily tasks, performed well, are recognised by Celebrating Success. Each team will demonstrate that it has made a significant impact within its own unique environment. You should consider how your team has made a positive difference to your customers.

When can I enter?

The application forms will go live on Monday 27 May. The closing date is Friday 28 June at 5pm, so please get busy and enter. Application forms and guidance notes are available on the intranet home page.

For information contact Lynette Valentine on 01506 282024 or email

When and where is the awards event?

Friday 15 November 2013 at Howden Park Centre.

Who are the judges?

The judging process has two stages. Each application is marked by a team of internal judges made up of individuals from across the service areas. Once the three finalists in each category are selected by the internal judges, a group of external judges analyses each of the finalists’ entries and marks each of them to select an overall winner for each category. The external judges include representatives from: Land Securities, West Lothian College, the Citizen Led Inspection team, Youth Parliament and Trade Unions.

Steps to the judging process Step one - each application is read by internal judges and marked on the basis of the criteria set out (on the next page).

Step four - Each finalist has their application marked by external judges who also meet to discuss each entry.

Step two - the top three entries for each category go forward as finalists.

Step five – the external judges’ marks are collated and the winners are identified.

Step three - the finalists are named and the videos are produced for each finalist.

The winners in each category are a closely guarded secret until the awards event.

What are the categories? Based on feedback from staff, there have been changes to the categories this year to better reflect the work taking place across the council.

The Team of the Year Award is a brand new award and aims to recognise the work of individual teams who can demonstrate their effective and efficient team work throughout the year.

The Provost’s Award now recognises successful partnership working between council services and external groups, such as community groups and businesses.

Remember, we know that your work is varied and can cover a number of categories. Therefore, services can submit their entries

Category 1: Smarter

Applications could focus on: • Innovative approaches to planning and delivering value for money services • Making our economy stronger • Volunteering and Charity Work • Promoting a more open and accountable service and/or • Promoting inclusion and equality for staff and/or customers

Expanding opportunities for success with our services and communities, ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements. Applications could focus on: • Modernising services • New or innovative use of technology • Working more efficiently • Using customer feedback to develop services

Category 4: Healthier & Greener

Category 2: Safer & Stronger

Helping staff and communities to sustain and improve their health and wellbeing, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care and information

Helping local communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

Applications could focus on: • Improving the physical/emotional health of staff or customers • Reducing the environmental impact of services • Development of health related information • Advancing the wellbeing of staff, customers or communities

Applications could focus on: • Protecting our communities • Stronger and safer partnership working arrangements • Health and safety improvements to surroundings or work practices

Category 5: The Provost’s Award

Category 3: Fairer & Wealthier

The Provost’s Award recognises successful partnership working between council services and external groups, such as community groups and businesses.

Enabling all citizens and communities to share in increased wealth, planning services to ensure value for money, and ensuring that our services focus on equality of opportunity.

into more than one category. Below is a snapshot of each of the categories. More information on the categories is available on the guidance notes, which are available on the intranet homepage along with the application forms.

Team of the Year Award


This award is for the team that has demonstrated the ability to deliver clear benefits through working together effectively and efficiently. The award recognises the overall work of a team throughout the last 12 months. Entries for this award should demonstrate consistently high output and do not have to relate to a specific project. Applications should focus on: • How the team has demonstrated their

ability to deliver clear benefits to customers and /or staff. • How the team has worked together to achieve its objectives over the last 12 months. • The principles that underpin their success as a team. There is a separate application form for the team of the year award. Entries for categories 1-5 will not be automatically put forward for this award.

The Leader’s Award Individual teams do not enter the Leader’s Award directly.

What are the judges looking for in your application form? • Criterion 1 – What were the main aims and outcomes of your project / initiative / work? Tell us how you developed these aims and outcomes. (10 Marks)

• Criterion 4 – Did your project / initiative / work achieve the desired outcomes? How did staff, customers and partners benefit from your work?

• Criterion 2 – What methods did your teams use to achieve these aims or goals? Tell us why you used these methods. (20 Marks)

• Criterion 3 – What challenges did you face? Tell us how you overcame these challenges. (10 Marks)

How did you measure customer satisfaction? (30 Marks)

• Criterion 5 – Why do you feel your project / initiative / work should win? What have you learned and how will you use this to develop the initiative in the future? (30 Marks)

*Note: There are separate criteria and a different application form for the Team of the Year Award

The three finalists in this category are selected by the Chief Executive. The Council Leader assesses the three finalists and then selects the overall winner. Heads of Service will advise teams if they are selected as finalists in the Leader’s Award.

Birthday wishes to…

Gayl Anderson from the Admin Team turned 18 on 1 May. Joe Gallacher, Accounting Support, who turns 21 on May 26. Allan Scott, Accountant, who turned 60 in April. Eddie Anderson, Corporate Communications Officer, who turns 60 on 23 June. Thanks to Eddie’s daughter, Rachel Fry, who works in the Reablement Team at Strathbrock Partnership Centre, for sending a photo of Eddie aged five.


The council’s David Gardner, (20) from Whitburn won the Scottish final in Senior Painting and Decorating at SkillBuild – he will now represent Forth Valley College at the British Finals later on in the year. David came 2nd last year at the same event. It is the culmination of 15 regional heats taking place around the UK. The UK finals will see more than 100 apprentices utilise their skills in a bid to become overall UK champion.

Two other students were placed in the competition – apprentice Blair Hart (19) from Mid Calder came second in the Senior Bricklaying final, and Decorating student Driss Keriouh (20) from Broxburn. The council’s 2nd year joiner, Ben Shearer, and first year joiner, Ross Leadbetter, represented West Lothian College. All acquitted themselves well in their respective competitions.

Cycle to Work

Staff can save up to 40% through the Cycle to Work scheme. The council can help you buy a new bike from either your local bike store or Halfords and save up to 40%. Sign up on www. or telephone 0845 050 2174 or text ‘Cycles’ to 81025. Cycling can help you keep fit and cycling to work one day a week will cut your fuel bill and your emissions by 20%.

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:

Charlene Lynch has left the Admin Team to join the Livingston Housing Office Team. Fiona Duffy, Communications Officer, who has left the council. Calum Scott who has left the Admin Team to join Social Policy at New Cheviot House. Heather Robertson who has also left the Admin Team and joined DASAT. Congratulations also to Calum and Heather who got engaged recently.

Stay safe

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David said: “I was over the moon to be competing in SkillBuild and it was great to show the judges exactly what I can do. Winning the Painting and Decorating category was a real honour and makes all of the hard work I’ve put in worth it.

“I have competed in two or three events recently and felt I was much more relaxed and knew what to expect. I am grateful for the support from the college and my lecturers, they have been excellent.”

Good luck to…


Five of West Lothian’s modern apprentice students demonstrated their excellent construction craftskills at the prestigious Scottish Skills Build Competition recently - the UK’s largest multi-trade competition.


Having the skill to build

Congratulations to Accountant Esma Brownlee and husband Niall on the birth of their beautiful daughter, also called Esma, who weighed 8lb, 9oz.

this summer

The ‘Summer Safe’ campaign is returning to ensure West Lothian children and young people have a fun, safe time over the holiday period. West Lothian Council and its Community Planning Partners have re-launched the campaign to ensure people think about safety during their activities this summer. It is hoped that by raising awareness of possible issues, ‘Summer Safe’ will ensure that nothing spoils your enjoyment of the holiday period.

keeping you informed

Inside news 92  
Inside news 92  

Newsletter for the employees of West Lothian Council