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Glasgow City Council

Chief Executive updates - 2021

December 2021

Wednesday 22 December 2021

We're almost at the end of another year.  And what a year this has been!

We entered our second year of dealing with a pandemic which has impacted the whole world. There's no doubt it's been an extremely challenging time - for governments, organisations and individuals. Life has changed for everyone - at work and in our personal life.

I'd like to thank you for helping the council family to deal with the challenges that we've faced in these difficult times. I really appreciate the commitment and professionalism that you have shown to the organisation and to the city.

Since the onset of the pandemic, many staff across the organisation have had to find new ways of working in order to continue to deliver the vital services that keep our city moving and support our citizens, many of them vulnerable.

Teams have had to adapt the way they do things to keep in touch with one another, with service users, and with the many partner organisations that we work with.  Many staff changed roles in order to support business delivery, and many of us have had to upskill ourselves and become more adept at using technology to help us do our jobs remotely.

Throughout 2021, as in the previous nine months, there have been highs and lows. But there's no doubt that - despite Covid-19 - we have all done a great job.

Hosting major international events was always going to be a challenge during a pandemic.  But in the summer, we hosted UEFA EURO 2020 which brought football teams and supporters from all over Europe to the city.

And in November we successfully hosted a major global event - the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which turned the world's spotlight on the city. The name 'Glasgow' will forever by associated with this event in a year where Climate Change has been on everyone's lips. 

Throughout COP26, we were able to showcase the many innovative initiatives that we, and our partners, are supporting which will help to reduce the city's carbon footprint and make Glasgow a cleaner, greener city; our aim is to be one of the most sustainable cities in Europe and we are making good progress.

Alongside these big events, we continued to deliver services for our citizens and for everyone who comes here to work, study, visit and enjoy. 

There's no doubt that Covid-19 is continuing to keep us on our toes, not least with the rise of the new Omicron variant. Thankfully, things have progressed from last year and we now have a vaccine, and the ongoing rollout of the booster campaign. It's important that as many of us as possible roll up our sleeves for these vaccinations which help to protect us and the people around us. And of course, many staff are working hard to deliver the rollout of the vaccination programme.

As we all prepare to enjoy the festive season - bearing in mind the government's Covid advice and restrictions - I'd like to thank you for your hard work and commitment to supporting the organisation through another challenging year. Let's hope that 2022 brings positive changes in terms of the pandemic and that we can see a return to some degree of normality next year.

I wish you all the best for the festive period; enjoy time away from work and time with friends and family. And a special thank you to those staff who will be working over the holidays to make sure that we continue to provide essential and valuable services for the city.

Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.


Wednesday 1 December 2021

We are approaching the end of another remarkable year and, with it, the final months of this council term.

At this point in 2020, Glasgow was subject to the strictest level of coronavirus restrictions - and, along with half of the population of Scotland, looking forward to a modest relaxation of those measures before Christmas.

However, no sooner had this happened than the emergence of new variants and a national spike in cases saw new protections rolled out - and, with a Glasgow cluster emerging in the New Year, it would be several months before many businesses could substantially reopen and people across the city could begin to mix more freely with friends and loved ones.

And, although we are once again confronted with the challenge of a new variant and uncertainty over what kind of protections will be necessary over the winter; it is worth stopping to consider how much has changed - and how much you and your colleagues have achieved - in the last 12 months.

Of course, we have just hosted COP26 - an event that had itself been due to take place last year. Glasgow was also a successful part of a delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

Holding elections in the midst of a pandemic was also a significant challenge and one the city met - with improved turnouts in every constituency.

However, one of the most significant programmes supported by the council during 2021 was just getting underway in December last year.

Just weeks before the end of the year, the first vaccines were beginning to be approved for, initially, our most vulnerable - and those who care for them.

Twelve months later, almost every Glaswegian has had the opportunity to be vaccinated; with the council family playing a critical role in the roll-out.

From providing and making ready venues in every corner of the city to getting people out to drop-in vaccination centres, colleagues have played a really important role in making sure our communities are protected.

And, although Glasgow has had some of the lowest infection rates anywhere in the country during recent weeks - indeed, the lowest when new cases per population dropped below even Shetland in November - that work continues today, as the booster programme is widened and accelerated.

It has been a great job and everyone involved can feel very proud of their part in delivering for so many of our citizens.

This has been another extraordinarily difficult year, but that successful roll-out of vaccines is a big part of why we are able to look forward with a bit of hope.

I hope each of you can take some time to rest and relax with friends and loved ones over the end of the year; particularly if that is something you were unable to do last year.


November 2021

Wednesday 17 November 2021

After an extraordinary two weeks for the city, COP26 is over and the world must start to get to grips with the new Glasgow Climate Pact.

The agreement that bears our city's name is, undeniably, imperfect - nobody who saw and understood what last-minute qualifications and caveats on the use of coal meant for those representing low-lying islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean could sensibly argue otherwise.

However, it also breaks new ground for the planet - keeping alive the goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C or below and going further than any previous accord to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

COP26's significance to Glasgow is threefold - as a city, as an event host and as a leader among communities addressing climate change.

Glasgow has set ambitious carbon reduction targets - aiming for net zero in 2030, decades before many countries. But, without doubt, it also needs strong progress to be made on the national and international stage.

Both will have a huge influence, not only on how hard climate change impacts our city - but on the opportunities we will have to invest in a low carbon future.

It was, of course, important that the city perform well as an event host - and I have no doubt that we did.

Despite extraordinary challenges, Glasgow played its part in delivering the biggest event in its history - the biggest event of its kind, anywhere - in a manner that has prompted widespread praise.

I can't tell you how proud I have been to hear so many people from every part of the world, many of the veterans of these conferences, talk so warmly about Glasgow.

Many of you played a direct role in that success, but it is only right that I mention a small team - mostly working out of Eastgate - that have been living and breathing every aspect of COP26 for the last year.

But we're not done yet.

Although the intense, in-person talks are over; Glasgow remains the COP host city until the 27th conference takes place in Egypt next year - and intends to take that role seriously for every last day.

The last few weeks have made clearer than ever the importance of cities in finding solutions to the climate emergency. Across the political spectrum and from across the globe, city leaders met in Glasgow with common cause and a shared understanding of what is at stake for their citizens.

That work and those relationships cannot and will not end now. Delivering on the Glasgow Climate Pact is a challenge for us all.


October 2021

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Within weeks, world leaders and thousands of other delegates will arrive in Glasgow for COP26 - the United Nations conference that is often described as humanity's 'best last chance' to avert cataclysmic climate change.

The event was originally due to take place in 2020 but, such is its importance, organisers were not prepared to hold a virtual event when the Covid pandemic made it impossible to meet face-to-face.

I'm not the first person to make the point - but this is a period in which Glasgow, along with the rest of the world, is faced with two existential challenges.

While science tells us that pandemics happen; the coronavirus crisis was, for most of us, unpredictable. We can plan to have robust healthcare and public services that can adapt to new and difficult circumstances - but we can't know exactly what the shock will be or when it will make itself felt.

The effects of climate change, however, are not a surprise. They are an inevitability. In many cases they are already happening, we can see them - and we can begin to understand how they will have an impact on our city and our daily lives.

So, what does the experience of coronavirus tell us about how to approach a changing climate?

It's not simply about understanding how we harness the same determination and will to meet the challenge - although that is, undeniably, something to consider - but how the pressing need to recover from the shock of a global pandemic can also help drive the change we need to protect our homes, jobs and futures from environmental disaster.

For example, the council recently launched its Greenprint - a £30 billion investment prospectus that sits firmly in that space.

It sets out key projects that can stimulate our economy and enhance the lives of Glaswegians now and for generations to come; but also ensures each one will also play a part in reducing emissions and meeting our ambitious environmental ambitions.

The projects it covers are diverse - from public infrastructure like a Glasgow Metro, to overhauling how we heat our own homes.

Every city needs this kind of investment and every city will know it lies far beyond what is possible within existing municipal budgets.

However, we believe Glasgow is the first city, certainly in the UK, to be able to quantify and articulate a list of priorities - and the benefits they will return for its people.

The Greenprint will be the city's calling card when the world converges on Glasgow for COP26. In the emerging world of green investment, we want to use this unique opportunity to talk to and influence the financiers that are trying to figure out how to make a new, low carbon economy.

The challenge is not just to recover, but not to repeat the mistakes of the past.


September 2021

Thursday 2 September 2021

A few days ago, Glasgow set a target to eliminate fatal accidents and serious injuries on city roads by the end of this decade.

At first glance, it may appear to be an unusual aspiration. Why, after all, would any community aim for anything other than zero road deaths?

But the fact is that such a target would have been unthinkable up until relatively recently.

Road safety in the city has been steadily improving over the past decade, with the number killed or seriously injured in general decline.  However, in 2019 that still meant that nine people died and 160 were seriously injured as a consequence of road traffic collisions.

Each and every one of those serious injuries and deaths is a tragedy - and, most painfully, an avoidable one.

However, to put the figures in context, in the four years covering the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s there were 2,667 fatalities on Scotland's roads.

The cost to the NHS was reckoned to top £608 million every year. Adjusted for inflation, that's equivalent to roughly £1.6 billion in 2021. The cost to families was, as it is now, incalculable.

While statistics from the time show that rural areas - with fast main roads and fewer streetlights or safe pathways - tended to suffer the worst mortality rates, Glasgow was often an urban outlier; recording fewer overall fatalities than districts like Banff & Buchan or Lochaber, but sometimes double what experts believed was the 'expected' number of deaths.

Despite improvements, by the end of the 1990s an average year would still see nearly 80 Glaswegians lose their lives in road accidents every year - with nearly 500 total casualties.

To be in a position to even contemplate achieving zero deaths within 30 years is nothing short of remarkable.

Of course, road safety awareness; brilliant medical care for those who do suffer an accident; good policing and safe driving all play a role in avoiding or lessening the impact of accidents; but the truth is human error is and probably always will be a factor in most serious incidents.

That is why the work we do to make the city's road network one that not only minimises the likelihood of collisions but also the consequences of those that do happen so important. 

We know that a failure to look - by both those in charge of vehicles and pedestrians - is the most common cause for collisions. And, while the occupants of cars represent the largest overall number of casualties from road incidents, pedestrians - and in particular older pedestrians - are most vulnerable to serious injury or fatality.

A huge majority of collisions, some 92%, occur within a 30mph limit. More than 70% happen in fine weather - with similar numbers in daylight.

70% of cycling casualties occurred at a junction and 86% also involved a car.

A new road safety plan for the city, developed alongside Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue, identifies a range of measures essential for the creation of a 'Safe System'.

These include improved road safety engineering, enforcement, introducing safety cameras at key locations, initiatives that improve road safety around city schools, education projects, cycle training schemes and road safety campaigns.

And we already have evidence of these sort of steps working - and, undoubtedly, saving lives.

Glasgow currently has 82 zones with a lower speed limit of 20mph. They cover a total of 288km of carriageway, including the city centre - and analysis by the police shows a 31% reduction in accidents since their introduction.

We are targeting zero deaths or serious injuries by 2030 - but the work of colleagues in NRS and across the council has, unquestionably, already prevented scores of accidents and saved many lives.


August 2021

Wednesday 25 August, 2021

I want to give you an update about the council's commitment to resolving equal pay claims.

You may recall from previous communications that agreement was reached with all parties involved on how to settle equal pay claims up to 2018. Payments to claimants were made following approval of the funding at the City Administration Committee in February 2019.

Some claimants were also due payments towards pensions and the calculations and settlements for pensions are still ongoing due to the complexity of the process. I can assure you that this remains a priority for the council and the process is being worked on by council officers.

As you know we are in the process of implementing a new pay and grading scheme and until that scheme is implemented, we will continue to deal with the issue of equal pay claims.

This involves negotiations between the council and claimants' representatives which includes our trade unions, on how to settle any new claims and the ongoing claims from 2018 and until a new scheme is in place.

Senior council officers are now meeting claimants' representatives and trade unions fortnightly to agree how to settle new and outstanding claims.

We will continue to keep everyone updated on this matter including committee decisions required to approve the process and payments to claimants.


Wednesday 4 August, 2021

Over the weekend, one of the biggest regeneration projects in Europe took a major step forward, as the main span of the pedestrian and cycle bridge at Sighthill was put in place.

Sighthill has always had the city centre right on its doorstep - theoretically, at least. However, the barrier formed by busy lanes of the M8 has meant these two neighbourhoods have often felt a world apart.

Now, as almost a thousand new homes are taking shape on the northern side of the motorway, a better connected Sighthill is emerging.

When the bridge is completed, in the early part of next year, families in Sighthill will be within an easy walk or cycle of the city centre - as little as just 15 minutes to George Square.

Even for those of us who are not engineers, it is clear that installing a bridge over Scotland's busiest road is a huge logistical challenge - and everyone involved, including our colleagues in Neighbourhood and Regeneration Services and the City Deal team did remarkably well to get the job done with minimal disruption to the day-to-day life of the city.

Working overnight, the council's contractor BAM Nuttall drove the 1,000 tonne central section of the bridge along the motorway, then lifted it into position using hydraulic jacks, with only millimeters to spare at either end.

The bridge is constructed from weathering steel, designed to reflect the area's industrial heritage and mirror the look of many of the new buildings in Sighthill.

The project predates the pandemic - and has been planned since long before most people had heard of a coronavirus, let alone Covid 19 - but investment like this, in our infrastructure and in healthy liveable neighbourhoods, is crucial to our recovery.

It is also a great example of a wider transformation taking place in the north of Glasgow; with housing-led regeneration projects at neighbouring Cowlairs and in Port Dundas, Hamiltonhill and Ruchill set to bring the number of new homes along and near the canal corridor to around 3,200.

In Sighthill, the £250 million council-led project is a partnership with Glasgow Housing Association and the Scottish Government - with additional funding supported by the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

In addition to new homes, including property for mid-market and social rent, a new community campus is already in place - bringing together schools, nursery provision and sports facilities. The existing park is being completely redesigned and refurbished.

However, the new bridge is set to become not only a local landmark, but emblematic of a new Sighthill.

July 2021

Tuesday 13 July, 2021

The Scottish Government's has today (13 July) confirmed that Scotland will move to level 0 on Monday 19 July. The decision on a phased return to the office has been delayed and is expected to be part of further easing of restrictions on 9 August, subject to a decision nearer the time. In the meantime, the advice is to continue to work from home, where this is possible.

While we await a final decision from the government on a phased return to the office, it's time to plan for the months ahead for office staff who have been predominately working at home during the pandemic.

Our approach is to pilot a mixture of home and office working - hybrid working, that works for both the services we provide and staff who deliver these.

Your line manager will talk to you to agree a hybrid work pattern, where this is applicable to your role, considering the requirements of the service, your individual circumstances and any work arrangements that have worked well for both parties during the pandemic. Most staff who have been working predominately at home during the pandemic should have the opportunity to spend some time in the office and some time at home.

These new arrangements should be planned to start from 9 August, subject to a decision from the Scottish Government nearer the time.

There are no changes to contractual arrangements during this pilot

Hybrid working could look different for each service or team because the new ways of working need to continue to deliver the services Glasgow's citizens and businesses rely on.

Due to the diversity of the council, this approach isn't a one size that fits all. It's important to recognise that and know that it'll be the same for staff, who will have different needs and circumstances. Heads of service will provide managers with local service guidance and support material for conversations with staff.

The government has reduced indoor physical distancing to one metre from Monday. As the health and wellbeing of our staff is paramount and in line with our phased approach, our decision is to maintain two metre physical distancing in our buildings until the next update when physical distancing could be removed. If this is the case, we will encourage everyone to continue to maintain a safe distance and signage will remain in place to determine the maximum number of staff who can be in certain areas, for example, in a lift.

Other safety measures will remain in place in our buildings for the long-term including: cleaning materials for desks, hand sanitisers placed around buildings and day cleaning of surfaces.

You should continue to wear a face covering in all communal areas and when you're moving around as this will remain mandatory for some time, following the government's advice today.

We will also take a phased approach to increasing the capacity in our offices to make sure that everyone has the best experience when they return. We will restrict capacity to around 30% until the end of September and then increase this to around 50% until the end of December.

We recognise that homeworking might not be suitable for everyone due to the home environment or for health and wellbeing; space in the office will be prioritised for those who need it most and for service delivery that can't be done from home.

We understand that peoples' lives have been affected by this pandemic and forced homeworking may have changed things considerably for some. It'll take time for everyone to readjust their lives on what could be a bumpy journey out of this pandemic.

During this period and until December, we will keep the pilot under review and adjust our arrangements based on feedback from our operations, staff and trade unions. We will use this feedback and service delivery indicators to consider our longer-term plans and the future for hybrid working.

Discussions with your line manager will provide answers about your individual circumstances. Please make sure that you take time to explore what hybrid working means for you and the services you deliver, so that you can reach an agreement on working arrangements for the months ahead.

We've prepared some questions and answers, you'll find them on staff updates here.


Thursday 1 July, 2021

With the summer here and our city looking ahead to a very busy second half of 2021; it seems a good time to start considering some of the changes coming our way over the next couple of months.

For many of us, the single biggest change will be the prospect of beginning the return to our normal workplaces; after a very long and I'm sure, for many, challenging period working from home.

It's natural that, for every colleague that is itching to get their kitchen table back, there will be someone who has reservations about returning to their old desk - or has just found that sometimes working from home suits them.

That's why managers are already having discussions with their teams about what to expect and how things might not go back to exactly how they were for some of us.

It's important to remember that those of us who have been working from home haven't been asked to do it because our workplaces were, themselves, unsafe.

Many of our colleagues have been safely working from offices and depots throughout the last 18 months - and, of course, those providing vital care, including residential care, have continued to do so.

Home working was introduced because having fewer people in daily circulation meant fewer opportunities for the virus to spread - and those of us who could work from home had to make way for those who could not.

Last summer, as the first lockdown eased, it seemed certain any return to the office would have to be limited - not by what worked best, for either the council or staff, but what we could physically cope with.

Distancing rules meant we could not hope to fit everyone back into the same space as prior to the pandemic - and I know many managers were looking at rotas and other arrangements that would have asked many to sometimes work from home and sometimes come into an office or other workplace.

However, that was before the approval of the vaccines, which - with all adults now eligible for at least their first dose - are now starting to break the link between transmission and the most serious risks to health.

We can already see people able to mix socially in much greater numbers, with fewer restrictions and that will spread in to our working lives.

That not only promises the opportunity to begin a phased return to the workplace when Glasgow reaches Level Zero, which the Scottish Government anticipates being in mid-July, but the potential removal of physical distancing measures in August.

Doing so would remove any need to impose home working; but still allow managers to agree some flexibility where it works for colleagues, the council and - most importantly - the people who rely on the services we provide.

It won't mean the virus has gone; but it will mean that vaccination, testing and the continued application of good hygiene - rather than stay-at-home orders - are doing the heavy-lifting when it comes to stopping serious illness.


June 2021

Tuesday 1 June, 2021

The last month has been a difficult one for Glasgow, after a significant coronavirus outbreak affecting some communities prevented the city from joining most of the rest of the country in further reducing restrictions.

That has meant a pause on people being able to mix more freely with friends and family at home - and a slower return to business for many in the city's normally vibrant hospitality sector.

There is light at the end of tunnel. Before the holiday weekend, there were signs that the increase in cases was slowing - and today the First Minister indicated that she is able to relax restrictions in Glasgow sooner rather than later, with the city moving into Level 2 on Friday.

However, even as the government has confirmed our progression into Level 2 later this week, we need to keep on top of this outbreak and be ready to take quick action the next time numbers start to rise.

Listening to the experts, it is clear that will happen across the country - and it would be naive to think that, because Glasgow has experienced this cluster, it will be somehow immune in the future.

However, all of the work that Glasgow has put in since early May to deal with the outbreak that has predominantly affected the south of the city also gives us a gameplan to tackle any future flare ups.

Flooding communities with tests - both for those showing signs of falling ill and those with no symptoms at all, has been crucial.

Combining that with quicker access to vaccines for those in the worst affected areas, but also those who maybe haven't yet taken up their second dose, doesn't work overnight, but it builds a strong route out of the outbreak.

On the southside, your colleagues in home care were part of a team, along with NHS nurses and British Red Cross volunteers, that hand-delivered thousands of PCR tests - ready for residents to use at home and drop off at a network of collection points across the community.

Additional mobile test centres were quickly established - and more than 30,000 lateral flow tests were sent out to every home across the wider area; giving residents the ability to self-test regularly.

At the same time, with every week that passes, science learns more about the virus variants that are being transmitted and what risks they pose.

The next community to experience an outbreak will be better placed to fight back because of the work done in Glasgow over the last few weeks.


May 2021

Tuesday 4 May, 2021

The last few weeks have brought with them some of the most positive steps out of the coronavirus crisis that we have seen since the introduction of the first vaccines late last year.

Since Glasgow dropped to Tier 3 of Scotland's Covid protection levels, the reopening of everything from shops to cafes has begun to gather pace.

And, because our case numbers are staying low and vaccination campaigns are showing good progress, we can be reasonably confident we are on track to step down to Tier 2 in the middle of this month.

Each step also means more people are able to safely meet - with bespoke levels in place for getting together outdoors, at pubs and restaurants and in our own homes.

People are also able to travel more freely, allowing some tourist business to resume - and this will all continue to contribute to Glasgow returning to something a little more like we are used to in the coming months.

All of these new opportunities are going to be vital to the city's economic and social recovery - and that is why a new drive has been launched to encourage and support people to reconnect with Glasgow and, in particular, our city centre.

The #LoveGlasgow campaign is led by Glasgow Life's destination marketing team and reminds Glaswegians and visitors alike that not only are many of the businesses, places and attractions that we have missed during lockdown reopening; but also that we can enjoy them safely.

Many local businesses had been closed since Boxing Day and it's hard to overestimate just how difficult this pandemic has been for them.

From our fantastic shops, restaurants and bars to the city centre's many outdoor and creative spaces, including walking trails, parks, gardens, museums and galleries - Glasgow is ready.

The return of local citizens and the first visitors in the first instance is already providing a much-needed boost to our tourism and hospitality sectors - as well as bringing back some of the colour and vibrancy that Glasgow is known for.

If we can keep transmission levels and new infections low, we can look forward to further relaxation of the national restrictions as we enter the summer, with Level 0 possible by late June.

That won't be the end of what I know has been a very difficult period for so many in the city, including many of our colleagues - the situation is still dire in many countries, including some where tens of thousands of Glaswegians will have family and close friends.


April 2021

Tuesday 6 April, 2021

We are just a month away from the Scottish Parliament Elections - and individuals and teams from across the council family are working to deliver a poll in extraordinary circumstances.

In previous years, we might talk about the importance of running a 'safe' election - and, by that, we would mean a well-run poll and count, with results that candidates and the voting public could be confident were correct and legitimate.

Despite everything that has happened over the last year, those must remain the priorities for any Returning Officer. However, we should understand that running a 'safe' election has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic.

It is easy to forget just how much an election gathers people together, in a way that has become quite rare since last spring.

The count might be the most obvious example - even those who have never taken part in one will recognise familiar images of staff crowded around counting tables; candidates and supporters huddled together, or media scrums.

However, the fact is that polling day itself brings potentially hundreds of thousands of people to a relatively small number of places, over the course of a day.

It is up to us to make sure it is safe for Glaswegians to vote - and, just as importantly, that they feel safe when they do.

In polling places, we'll be putting in place enhanced hygiene measures - with voters asked to wear face-coverings, use hand sanitizer and practice physical distancing, just as they would if they were visiting a supermarket.

There will be fewer voting booths grouped together - and we're getting rid of the familiar shared pencils, that have been a feature of most elections for many decades.

We'll also have additional staff on hand to help people navigate the process and manage safe queuing.

Two recent council by-elections have given us the opportunity to test some of these measures - and we are also sharing experience with other authorities, across Scotland, that have carried out elections in the last 12 months.

When it comes to counting votes, the most striking difference people will notice is that it is going to take a lot longer to get a result.

We usually count overnight - largely because it is generally possible to give people some certainty about the outcome of national elections by the time they are getting up the next morning.

However, this year, the need to create much more space for safe working means we will count just four constituencies at a time - rather than the usual eight - so there is no prospect of doing that.

As a result, we won't count overnight at all and I would expect to be making our final declarations on Saturday afternoon, rather than the early hours of Friday morning.

As with so many other things in the last year, our job remains the same; but how we go about it has had to change rapidly.


March 2021

Monday 1 March, 2021

For most people, this month marks a full year of living with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although we now know the virus was present in the country earlier, the first case in Scotland was reported on Tayside on 1 March. Just over three weeks later, we went into a national lockdown.

The speed at which the council and other organisations had to adjust to a myriad of restrictions - some of which changed just as rapidly over the weeks and months that followed - was without precedent.

As an organisation, we are well used to making small shifts and adjustments to our plans and our processes to adapt to local emergencies or changes in circumstances; so much so that they can go almost unnoticed.

A year ago, however, the changes required were sweeping and had to happen, more or less, all at once.

I can never say too many times how proud I am of the way you went about rising to new challenges and making ordinary things work in extraordinary circumstances.

I know this unwelcome anniversary will mean something different to all of us. Our own sense of the disruption to each of our lives might weigh particularly heavily - or we might take hope from the fact that, a year after our first encounter with the virus, millions of the most vulnerable among us have already received a vaccine.

Whatever your own thoughts, I hope you can see that - however hard the last year has been - you have played your part in a team effort which has made lockdown just a little bit easier for everyone else.

In a year like no other, I think we can all agree that just keeping going has been enough to make a difference.

Of course, the speed at which the virus moved from a handful of confirmed cases to shutting down so much of our day-to-day lives also reminds of that we cannot afford to become complacent, as cases fall again and more and more of us, our friends and family are invited to receive vaccines.

The best way we can do that is by continuing to follow the rules and encouraging those around us to do the same.

That means wearing a mask or face covering; avoiding crowded places; following rules on physical distancing, and practicing good hygiene - and, in particular, washing our hands thoroughly and regularly.

If you have Covid-19 symptoms, self-isolate and book a test - if you are contacted by the NHS Test and Protect service and told you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, follow the advice they give you to the letter.

None of us should come to work with symptoms, or if we have been told to isolate. It won't be recorded as sickness and you will still be paid.


February 2021

Monday 1 February, 2021

Almost exactly a year on since the first confirmed cases of coronavirus were detected in the UK, it is remarkable to think that millions of people every week are now receiving their initial dose of the first vaccines.

As you know, some of our colleagues working on behalf of Glasgow's Health and Social Care Partnership have been among the first to be offered the vaccine - in recognition of their close contact with people in vulnerable groups and, in particular, the very elderly.

And, while the rest of us are unlikely to be inoculated based on our profession - taking the vaccine when it is our turn will be one of the biggest individual contributions we can make towards the council and the city's recovery from Covid.

The council is supporting the roll out across the city by helping to establish vaccination centres in Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Barmulloch and Castlemilk - in addition to the NHS Louisa Jordan at the SEC.

It is a huge effort and teams from across the council family have been involved - working alongside partners old and new.

Right now, Glaswegians are rolling up their sleeves to receive their vaccination because your colleagues were able to offer venues managed by Glasgow Life, converted to their new use by City Building, with transport set up by Neighbourhoods and Sustainability and supported by SPT.

That's an incredible team effort - and doesn't even begin to touch on the other staff who have planned, co-ordinated and provided the support required to make sure that logistical hurdles could be cleared.

Even now the centres are up and running, we have colleagues working on-site in non-clinical roles - and others supporting the city's health experts to let everyone know that getting vaccinated when we are invited is key to protecting our health, our friends and family.

I'm really proud of the job they have done to make sure that Glasgow plays its part in the biggest immunisation drive the country has ever seen. When it's your turn to receive the vaccine; wherever you go, I hope you'll remember that too.

Whilst the rollout of the vaccine is welcome news, we will continue to live under restrictions which impact our work, home and social lives for the time being - which is why it is so important we continue to make our mental health and well-being a priority.

The Time to Talk campaign, which is launched this week, gives us a chance to put this into practice and I would encourage everyone to get involved by safely connecting with a colleague for a cup of tea and a chat.

It has never been so important as it is now to reach out and support each another. Every very small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.


January 2021

Tuesday 5 January, 2021

Scottish Government update - stay at home


Firstly, I hope you enjoyed a break over the festive period and took some time to look after yourself and your loved ones. Despite the extreme circumstances that we once again find ourselves living under, I want to wish you all a happy new year. This new variant of the virus has delivered a massive blow to our lives but as we look towards Spring, we can see an end in sight with the vaccination programme and I hope that life can return to some kind of normal for all of us in 2021. I urge you all to take up the vaccination when it's offered to you, it's the route out of these restrictions.

By now you will all be considering how the First Minister's recent announcement affects you both personally and from a work point of view. I want to give you an update about how this affects you at work and remind you that we're all being asked to play our part by staying at home as much as possible. I know this is difficult but by law, in a Level 4 area, you can only leave your home for essential purposes.

You'll find this latest stay at home guidance here.

I know that I've said this many times now but the services we deliver for the city are essential and the people of Glasgow rely on us.

Most of you who are currently working outside your home can continue to do so including travelling between council areas, if need be.

The exception to this is people who are shielding. If you were previously shielding then it's likely that you'll receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer to ask you to do this again, if you are in this category then you should not go out to work but work from home where this is practical. This won't be counted as sick leave.

Generally, these new rules will not change which groups of staff work from home or which staff are needed at their workplace. Along with your manager, you should be keeping the work that you do and your attendance at your workplace under review to make sure that if you are able to work from home you do that.

If you have any concerns about coming to work, then you can complete an individual risk assessment with your line manager to look at the specific risk of Covid-19 in workplace for individuals. This is in addition to the workplace risk assessments that are already in place.

If you can work from home, then you should do so where this is practical. If you are in any doubt about this then you should discuss this with your line manager. If you are part of a team which generally works from home, but you have been going to your place of work then please take the time to consider with your manager whether this remains appropriate or whether you could work completely from home for the rest of the month. Remember, you also need to consider your health and safety at home and follow the guidance that's already been published at This includes advice and support for everyone's well-being.

If you work in Education Services, then you will receive separate guidance about any changes to how you carry out your job.

If you need to go out to work and have childcare responsibilities that can't be accommodated in any other way, including discussing possible flexible working arrangements with your line manager, then you should contact your normal education establishment to discuss any support they can offer for your child's attendance for in school/early years learning from 11 January.

It's so important to keep taking all the precautions you can to stop the spread of the virus and keep yourself and Glasgow's citizens safe. Everyone needs to stay two metres apart, wear a facing covering in indoor communal areas and public transport, avoid car sharing and keep washing your hands or use the hand sanitiser provided.

If you have symptoms then don't come to work, book a test and self-isolate immediately. Everyone will continue to be paid if they need to self-isolate and this won't be recorded as sick leave.

I know it'll be difficult to get through the next few weeks back under these tougher restrictions but please play your part for your family, your community, the city and the services of the NHS - we want to make sure their services are there for everyone who needs them.

We can get through this if we stick with the rules so we can start to recover from this devastating virus post vaccination and hopefully enjoy a summer in the city. There are many things to look forward to including the first-class sporting events still in the planning, headlining concerts rescheduled from last year and of course maybe the best of all, simply being able to meet a group of friends for a day out in the city's many fabulous eateries and shops.

Don't lose sight of the end to this pandemic.

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