Key workers and frontline services have been most affected by government guidance and are very visible in our communities right now, but behind the scenes, other services have been making changes to ensure some of the everyday business of the Council can keep functioning.
Officers from the Planning and Building Standards team are all working remotely from home, carrying out as many of their regular duties as possible. The team is able to process electronic Planning and Building Warrant applications and deal with electronic enquiries. Normal online processes remain in place for Planning and Building Warrant submissions or re-submissions of information for invalid applications and the Planning and Building Warrant Registers can viewed via the Council’s website.
At this time the Service is only accepting electronic payments via the Scottish Government’s Planning and Building Warrant Portals or via Civicaepay on the Council’s website.
Site visits have been suspended for the time being, but this is constantly under review and will be reinstated once government restrictions are lifted.
Regulatory Services which includes Environmental Health, Trading Standards and the Corporate Enforcement Unit, have also been adapting to new ways of working while continuing to provide essential services to help keep our communities safe and our environment clean and green.
Environmental Health Officers have been given instruction by Food Standards Scotland and the Scottish Government to allow inspections of premises to go ahead during lockdown. Inspections of all food businesses are scheduled on a risk rating and scoring basis and food safety visits have been continuing for the highest risk activities.
Interventions by Environmental Health Officers have also continued, responding to complaints or concerns which impact on public health within East Ayrshire. The team have also been providing Covid-19 related advice and support to premises now providing takeaway and delivery services. This is essential work that will help keep workers and our communities safe.
The Corporate Enforcement Unit is out carrying out patrols throughout East Ayrshire, investigating instances of fly tipping, dog fouling and environmental crime and issuing fines to those caught.
Trading Standards Officers are busy tackling Covid-19 related scams and activity by unscrupulous individuals. Lockdown doesn’t stop the scammers and they are ready to adapt to the crisis, targeting people at their most vulnerable. Reported scams include doorstep crime, people offering to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria; online scams, including dubious health products and virus testing kits and refund scams, particularly in relation to holiday refunds. The team have also been providing Covid-19 advice to a variety of businesses to enable them to continue to trade legally and safely.
All Officers within Regulatory Services and Licensing are enforcing the new powers to close businesses which should not be operating during the pandemic, and responding to complaints and enquiries arising from this.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “At a time when so many people are vulnerable, it is essential that we adapt and continue to deliver vital services to reassure our communities, keep people safe and help businesses to keep operating, where possible and within the Government guidelines.
“We are determined to find solutions that will ensure we can continue to provide services to the people of East Ayrshire and our employees have adapted quickly to new ways of working. I am very grateful to them for the commitment they have shown to serving our communities. We are reviewing Scottish Government guidance on a daily basis and will continue to adapt the way we are delivering services.
“I would like to thank all of our employees for their commitment and hard work during this time. Our frontline employees - including our waste operatives, social workers, carers, teachers and catering employees - are doing a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances.
“I would also like to thank employees from services across the Council who have volunteered to support our cleansing services team to reinstate the recycling service. This was never going to be an easy task and we thank you all for your patience and co-operation at this time.”
Visit www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest service updates.