Chief Executive's introduction
Welcome to the August issue of Cascade. It’s hard to believe we’re heading into autumn already.
In this issue, find out how colleagues delivered the fantastic new Helensburgh Leisure Centre on programme, despite a global pandemic.
As we continue to share tips on how MS 365 can make work easier for you, read more about how to take notes in Teams without ever having to lift a pen. I know this tool is going to be really handy for me!
We’re launching two new employee benefits designed to support your financial wellbeing. If you’re looking to top up your pension or if you need some tips on managing your finances, read more about Salary Finance and Shared Cost AVCs.
There’s also the chance to get to know your colleagues better with a new feature that reveals a few surprises!
Just for fun
Over the next few months, we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know your colleagues better with our new quiz.
We’re kicking things off with Aileen MacLennan, Ruth Crosbie and Jane Jarvie from the Communications Team.
Can you guess which statement applies to Ruth, Aileen and Jane?
- I used to receive fan mail from South America
- I appeared on stage with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones
- I once got trapped on board a Royal Navy Frigate at sea and had to climb down the side of the ship and onto a moving speedboat
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers…
A legacy build for Helensburgh
“What did I do over lockdown?
I helped to build a £22 million state of the art leisure facility.”
In the last two years, we have seen Brexit, driver shortages and rising fuel costs, not to mention a global pandemic– none of these challenges have stopped Andrew Collins, Project Manager delivering the new Helensburgh Leisure Centre, part of a £22 million development to transform the town’s waterfront.
With the leisure centre opening to the public in September and an official opening planned for October, we talk to Andrew about delivering a project of this scale.
The Helensburgh Leisure centre includes two swimming pools, one with a moveable floor for all abilities, a gym, café and fitness studios with impressive views of the Clyde. The project also included building new flood defences for the town.
Andrew joined the council in 2014 and has worked on the Helensburgh Waterfront development at every stage, from initial concept to securing funding to the planning process. Work to create the new leisure centre, swimming pool and car park started in 2020 – during the first year of Covid.
Restrictions meant that the project team have worked remotely throughout the entire build without meeting face-to-face – a remarkable achievement for a project of this scale.
“We were really lucky – I’m used to remote working and because the council already had the technology in place before Covid, meeting online was relatively straightforward. It’s incredible what has been achieved working remotely from the start of the build right through to completion.”
Working on the project has been a mammoth team effort. Andrew has worked with colleagues from across the council including infrastructure design services, external designers and architects, planning, building standards, roads procurement, finance, legal and IT. Every service has played a huge role in delivering this fantastic new facility for the town.
“I want to thank everyone involved in helping us deliver the project. It was a long and sometimes difficult journey. Many of you have gone above and beyond to make sure we delivered the project to the highest standards and to the original timescale. It is a testament to the power of partnership working.”
Andrew is incredibly proud to have played his part along with the wider team. Building the leisure centre created employment opportunities for local contractors and offered work experience to many people starting their careers. Throughout the process, graduates, trainees and apprentices gained vital experience working across a range of skills including plumbing, quantity surveying, stonemasonry and civil engineering.
“I’ve worked on a lot of large-scale projects and for me; this one will take some beating. There’s no doubt, this has been a career high for me.”
Phase 2 of the Waterfront development is now underway as Andrew manages the demolition of the old swimming pool, oversees ongoing landscaping and helps prepare a site identified for potential retail. His next project is overseeing the £700,000 Ardrishaig North Public Realm improvement works.to
Salary saving benefits
When thinking about employee wellbeing, an important – and often overlooked – part is financial. We all worry about money at some point in our lives, and we want to ensure you have access to the tools that can really make a difference.
To support your financial and mental wellbeing, we are launching a new benefit – Salary Finance.
Through Salary Finance, you can access:
- Free financial education: Tips to help you better understand your personal finances, as well as tools for budgeting and saving.
- Simple savings – where you can save straight from your salary
- Loans repaid through salary. A lower-rate loan could help you save money by paying off debt that is more expensive. As an alternative to credit cards and overdrafts, you can use it to cover an unexpected expense or help you achieve your long-term financial goals. Representative Rate 9.9% APR (fixed)
Find out more at argyllandbute.salaryfinance.com
Retire early or with more money
*This scheme is available for Strathclyde Pension Fund members.*
Are you looking to retire early, with more money or simply want to top up your pension fund? The new Shared Cost Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) scheme is now available to employees.
This new scheme is a tax efficient way to save for retirement and an opportunity to supplement your Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). You can build up an additional retirement fund and use this as a tax-free lump sum or retire early.
If you already pay AVCs this new scheme enables you to save National Insurance Contributions in addition to tax, meaning you will increase your take home pay compared to paying AVCs in the standard way.
A £100 contribution will only cost a basic rate taxpayer £65.88
There is no change to your current AVC provider. Prudential will continue to manage and administer your current AVC pot. The new scheme is simply a top up facility.
Webinar sessions to find out more
Our providers, AVC Wise are hosting webinar sessions to give you an opportunity to learn more about the Shared Cost AVC scheme and ask any questions you may have.
How to retire early and with more money
Wednesday 21 September at 2.30pm and Friday 23 September at 12:30
Tuesday 20 September at 4pm (school support staff) and Thursday 22 September at 4pm (school support staff)
This 45-minute session will give you an insight into how Shared Cost AVCs can provide a unique savings opportunity that not only benefits you today, but also at the point of your retirement.
The LGPS and Shared Cost AVCs
Tuesday 27 September at 10:30am and Thursday 29 September at 2.30pm
Tuesday 27 September at 4pm (school support staff) and Thursday 29 September at 4pm (school support staff)
Join AVC Wise for a detailed 60-minute session where they’ll discuss the LGPS, your investment options and the many benefits of Shared Cost AVCs
To book your place onto a webinar, please visit www.avcwise.co.uk/book and register. Then, select the webinar you wish to attend and AVC Wise will confirm your place.
Please note, you cannot access the webinar via Internet Explorer. Please use another browser where possible – Google Chrome is the best browser to use to access the webinars.
You can also find FAQs on MyCouncilWorks
Save time - one less thing to do
Put down the pen and notebook. Did you know that taking notes in meetings could be a thing of the past when using Transcription in Teams?
This handy tool makes life easier and records who said what and when and then produces an on the spot transcript of the meeting. It is then available to download to reference discussions and agree actions.
How to get started
If you are the meeting organiser or chairperson, you must make sure all participants know that you intend to start transcription. You can also notify participants that transcription can be paused if required, for example if you are discussing confidential information.
Please note – live transcription is only available on the desktop version of Teams (not on the web version). You can access the desktop version from the Windows start menu or from an icon on your desktop.
Before you start, ask if the meeting is appropriate for transcription. All transcription records may fall under information requests including FOI, EIR etc.
How to start live transcription
- In you Teams meeting controls, select ‘more actions’.
- Select ‘start transcription’
A notification will appear to let everyone know that live transcription has started. The transcript appears on the right side of your screen.
How to stop live transcription
The meeting organiser and presenters can stop and restart transcription during the meeting.
- Go to your meeting controls and select ‘more actions’ .
- Select ‘stop transcription’ or ‘stop recording’ if a recording is in progress.
The transcription stops automatically when all participants leave the meeting.
How to download the transcript
The transcription is immediately available when the meeting ends. You can download it as a .doc or .vtt file.
- Select calendar on the left in Teams
- Open the meeting event and choose the transcript
- Select download and choose the file type you need.
Information governance guidance
Please follow appropriate information and records management practices when you download and store transcripts. You should ideally only keep one copy in a location accessible to those who require access.
Only keep transcripts for as long as you need them. Once you produce minutes or have extracted the details you need, please store transcripts within a formal record-keeping area. E.g. SharePoint, shared Network Drives
If your team / service uses live transcription regularly, you should consider preparing detailed guidance to outline where transcripts should be stored, what type of meetings transcription can / can’t be used for, and how long they should be kept for.
Please be aware that if a transcript includes personal data, this could be subject to a data subject access request. Transcripts are also subject to FOI requests. More information is available on the hub.
Quality conversations - tell us what you think?
Based on feedback, you told us that PRDs were not working in the way you would like. You asked for a less formal more continuous approach to personal development. As a result, earlier this year, we introduced Quality Conversations between managers and employees. Our new approach enables you to have time with your manager to discuss your work objectives, look at ways we can support you to carry out your job and identify career development opportunities.
It’s a much more relaxed conversation while making sure what is discussed is relevant and helps day to day work. You can find more about our new approach here.
Quality conversations are taking place all year round. We would like to know via a short survey, if you have already had a conversation with your manager. If you have, what do you think of the new approach? You can find the survey on LEON.
Please complete the survey by Friday 2 September. We have developed some guidance to support you to complete this survey.
All employees can access LEON. If you are on a networked device you can log straight into LEON by clicking on the ‘Login via Azure’. If you do not have a council email address, you should enter your employee number and password. You can find further advice on MyCouncilWorks.
If you have any issues logging in, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and employee number. You can also call 01546 605513 (option 3).
Thanks to everyone who has completed their equality information on MyView. This ensures the council can meet its legal obligations to report on the profile of our workforce and will help us take any improvement action needed to support diversity.
If you haven’t already done so, would you please take a few minutes to complete yours: http://intranet.argyll-bute.gov.uk/my-hr/myview. Thanks.
Just for fun answers
Here are the answers to our new quiz. Did you guess correctly?
“I used to receive fan mail from South America”
Communications Manager Jane Jarvie used to work for BBC radio’s world service, covering Latin America, and often received emails and letters from fans across the pond.
“I appeared on stage with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.”
Senior Communications Officer Ruth Crosbie was at a Rolling Stones concert waiting for it to start. She entered a competition that flashed up on the big screen and won VIP access. Along with a few other people, she enjoyed VIP hospitality and received free Stones merchandise. The highlight was walking on to the stage with Mick and the boys where she enjoyed the concert in a special seating area, next to the band!
“I once got trapped on board a Royal Navy Frigate at sea and had to climb down the side of the ship and onto a moving boat.”
Communications Officer Aileen MacLennan used to work as a reporter at The Campbeltown Courier and was interviewing staff on HMS Campbeltown when she suddenly realised the ship had upped anchor and started moving while she was still on board. Unable to turn the ship around, the crew kitted her out with a dry suit, boots and helmet, before sending her own her way down a rope ladder hanging from the side of the ship and onto a moving RIB below – a real James Bond moment