In this edition
Chief Executive Update
I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy the longer, lighter nights. I feel like there are more hours in the day and I’m much more motivated to get out and do things after work. It really improves quality of life, and that’s really important after a hard day at work.
The importance of work/life balance to you has come across loud and clear in our home working survey and the results are in this issue. Thanks to the hundreds of you who responded. It’s clear that most of you have found a real benefit to working at home and we’ll be exploring that further over the coming weeks.
Also in this issue we meet our Integrated Transport Team, welcome Scott, our new Marine Operations Manager, and wish a long and happy retirement to Gerry, our Pier Operative at Kilcreggan.
‘Topping out’ the Helensburgh Waterfront Development
It was a pleasure to be on site recently and watch the traditional construction ceremony of topping out, marking the completion of the building’s structure and roof.
To get to this point, nine months into the build is quite remarkable considering the challenges of a global pandemic and the ever-changing weather conditions!
In addition to the structure and roof now complete, we have new flood defences in place and inside, the main swimming and studio pool tanks are completed. Our contractors, Heron Bros. are progressing well with internal works – underfloor heating and electrical works to the changing village, fitness studios, sauna and steam room.
It takes a great team to deliver a multi-million pound investment of this scale. Working across the council with colleagues from Property Services, procurement, Legal, health and safety, planning building standards, Infrastructure Design and Roads and Amenities, I’m really proud to be part of this legacy build.
Learning is fun outdoors
The council’s Education Team has joined forces with outdoor adventure organisations in the area to give every school pupil in Argyll and Bute the opportunity to enjoy at least one outdoor learning activity before the summer break.
School Services Support Manager, Susan Tyre, said: “These sessions have enabled our children and young people take part in a huge range of outdoor activities, from learning how to light a campfire and orienteering, to canoeing and hillwalking.
“The last year has been a turbulent time for pupils, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to have some fun and take part in some team building sessions as they settle back into school. We’ve received some really positive feedback from teachers, pupils and parents, so all the organising has been well worth it.”
Meet your colleagues - integrated transport team
Our Integrated Transport team is based in Lochgilphead and Dunoon and manages school and public transport contracts across Argyll and Bute. Here’s just a taste of the many, varied and complex things our small team of eight manages.
- We transport 3000 pupils daily to 78 secondary and primary schools in Argyll and Bute and six schools in Dunbartonshire and the central belt.
- Our school transport contracts cost £6.5m annually. We contract with 22 transport providers and work with ferry and rail operators who transport approximately 90% of the pupils.
- We also have our own 90 vehicle in-house fleet and a workforce of up to 150 permanent, temporary and casual drivers and pupil escorts.
- Many school runs take place in outlying areas such as Ulva, Bridge of Orchy and Portnahaven, picking up pupils from their homes.
- Around 200 pupils have additional support needs. Our team works with parents and Education to make sure they have the transport they need.
- We provide direct grant funding to six Community Transport groups providing essential lifeline services to their communities, and provide help to others looking to do the same.
- We oversee the maintenance, repair and upgrade of over 1000 bus stops and 300 bus shelters.
- When one of the local bus services changes, we will make sure it’s publicised – which can be at very short notice. We’ve 80 separate bus services, online timetables, 500 at-stop timetable displays, and a range of timetable booklets.
- Our office staff and many of our drivers and pupil escorts played a key role during lockdown. We helped organise and deliver approximately 46,000 food parcels to vulnerable families across the area. A large number of council minibuses and contractors’ buses and staff were used in this operation.
Meet your colleagues - Scott Reid
Scott Reid is the new Marine Operations Manager who joined the council early this month. We thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know him.
“I was in the Merchant Navy sailing as Ships Master / Captain and more recently as a Marine Consultant with my own company. I’ve worked all over the world and among other things I’ve moved Rigs and Drillships for clean recycling as well as organising vessels and Offshore Units for rig moves and tows.
“I’ve lived in Dunoon for over 20 years – my wife Brenda is Head Teacher at Dunoon Primary. The Marine Operations Manager job was an ideal opportunity to leave the world-wide travelling and focus on the services we use every day and still keep that link with the maritime world I’ve lived and worked in for so long. It will also give me more time at home and the chance to work in some of the most spectacular country side in the world.
“Outside work, I love hill walking and camping. We recently started visiting different inshore locations with our inflatable canoe which is great for sticking in the car boot with the tent.”
Happy retirement Gerry
Colleagues, regular Kilcreggan passengers and the crew from the MV Chieftain gathered for a surprise presentation as Gerry Tierney tied up the Kilcreggan ferry for the last time. Gerry has worked for the council as a Pier Operative for twelve years, eight of those at Kilcreggan and before then, Helensburgh.
As part of his retirement gift, he was presented with a framed photograph of Kilcreggan pier.
Gavin Walker, Piermaster: “Gerry has provided a great service to the community and we want to thank him for his dedication and hard work. He’ll be sorely missed.”
Wishing you a very happy retirement Gerry.
Our Modern Workspace
Hundreds of employees responded to our survey about working from home. Thank you!
You can find a summary of findings at the end of this update.
Overall, you have told us that you want homeworking to continue, to some extent, long term:
- 54% of respondents would like a balance of home/office working
- 70% would like to continue working from home full time or 3 or more days a week
We continue to consider your comments, suggestions and ideas, and how they can help develop long term working arrangements.
Our next step will be to find out more from you about specific working requirements your team has, so anything from storage to confidential meeting spaces. To do this we will be in touch with managers over the next few weeks to ask for their help in speaking with you about requirements.
We will keep you up-to-date with progress.
Once managers have your thoughts and feedback, Shirley Johnstone, Project Manager for the Our Modern Workspace initiative, will meet with Heads of Service / 3rd tier managers to discuss different services’ requirements, so we can develop the spaces we all need to deliver our services.
You will no doubt have questions, now or as we progress, about new ways of working. Please look out for the Our Modern Workspace emblem on the intranet. Clicking on this will take you to answers to questions we have been asked. We will update this information as more questions come up. You are welcome to raise questions via firstname.lastname@example.org
The emblem sums up what we are working to achieve for us all – flexible working arrangements that combine what’s best about home and office working.
Jane Fowler, Head of Customer Support Services
Ross Mclaughlin, Head of Commercial Services
Survey findings summary
MyCouncilWorks – our new staff website
Work is progressing well with the new website and we hope to launch very soon. The aim of the site is to give everyone, include those who might not currently be on the network, access to the latest news and staff updates. It also gives you the opportunity to get to know colleagues a bit better and help promote your area of work.
We have new features including 60-second interviews, a noticeboard for you to add any events and regular staff updates. Also featured is all our corporate news with feeds from our social media accounts.
In the new HR section, colleagues who haven’t previously been able to access policies and vacancies can do so here. There will be regular updates from our wellbeing team along with a new Training section for staff to access LEON.
New Tweet on the block
If you’re on Twitter, and you want to keep up to date with what’s happening on the roads or with bin collections, there’s a new feed you should be following.
@ABC_roads_infra offers information from the Roads and Infrastructure team on road improvements, road closures and updates on scheduled bin collections etc. It means you get the updates when you’re making your regular checks on Twitter.
It’s just another opportunity, that complements Keep in the Loop and our various social media feeds, to keep everyone connected with what’s happening in essential services and the wider community.
For more information, contact Roads and Infrastructure Services.
Be cyber aware - phishing
Cyber attackers are using phishing emails using COVID-19 as a means to catch people out.
It’s likely that you’ll receive a COVID-19 related phishing emails during this period and they will appear to be genuine
Any email that you are not 100% certain of should be treated with suspicion and do the following:
- Hover your mouse over links to see what they really point to
- Hover the mouse over the sender address to see if it really is what it claims to be
- Read the email address carefully to see if it is correct (such as @hmrc.co.uk rather than @hmrc.gov.uk)
- Be aware of poor grammar or odd English in the email
- If in doubt, assume its suspicious and report to email@example.com
You can find more information on The Hub
Can you help?
We’re looking for volunteers to help out with some school holiday activities this summer.
Helpers are needed throughout Argyll and Bute for activities with children of all ages.
If you’re interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org