News and Updates
West Lothian news and updates relating to Coronavirus
Update 30 March
West Lothian Educational Psychology Telephone Service
Telephone consultation service during school closure period
For: Parents/carers, school staff, young people and other agencies seeking support & advice to improve the wellbeing and educational outcomes for our children and young people at this difficult time.
When: Monday - Friday; 9.30am to 12.30pm
Contact: Call: 01506 283130 to leave a message with your details (name, number, school etc.) and one of our psychologists will call you back. Or, you can e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Coronavirus - Helpful Resources for some useful resources you can use.
Update 26 March
Help us protect vulnerable children and adults - West Lothian Public Protection
The current situation will undoubtedly cause an increase in stress levels and worry for everyone.
However it is important that everyone plays their part to help vulnerable children and adults.
- If you have a concern that a child is at risk phone 01506 284440 (option 2)
- If you have a concern that an adult is at risk phone 01506 284440 (option 2)
- If you have a concern that an older person is at risk phone 01506 284700
Out of office hours phone 01506 281028 or 01506 281029. In an emergency please dial 999
If you are experiencing domestic abuse phone 01506 281055 or call/text 0781 842 1480 or 07799 341680.
Update 25 March
West Lothian Council will continue to pay EMA payments to qualifying pupils in secondary education whilst schools are closed due to Coronavirus. All pupils who qualified for a payment at the point the schools closed on 20 March 2020, will continue to receive a payment until the schools re-open or up to the point that EMA payments would have ceased for this academic year.
Pupils can email EducationBenefits@westlothian.gov.uk if further information is required.
Third Sector Resilience Fund
The Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) is a £20m emergency fund for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations working in Scotland. The fund will support organisations that already deliver services and products but find themselves in financial difficulties directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The primary intention of the fund is to help third sector organisations to stabilise and manage cash flows over this difficult period.
Charities and social enterprises can apply for grants of between £5k and £100k to support the health and continued viability of the organisation during the Covid 19 outbreak. It's specifically targeted at covering gaps in your income, rather than new activities. You will need to have a clear sense of what level of funding you need to plug the gap.
There are also 0% interest loans starting at £50k, which have no arrangement fee and a 4 year repayment window.
Sanitary products available
Sanitary products are available for school pupils to collect at all 11 Secondary Schools in West Lothian during opening hours. They are also available from the primary schools that are providing free school meals (details on our website).
They are free and are available to all pupils who need them. Please observe the guidance on Social Distancing. This service is in place for those who that don't have access.
In secondary schools they can be collected from the front entrance area.
Products are also available for those collecting Crisis Grants from Arrochar House, Livingston and Crisis Grants or Food Bank Parcels, from Bathgate Partnership Centre.
Update 24 March
Parks and Children's Play Parks
Our parks can be used for exercise as long as the rules on social distancing are adhered to.
It is very important that there's no use of Children's play parks/areas. Children's play areas are closed. Please don't gather at benches, picnic tables or anywhere else. The national advice is: Public gatherings of more than two people who do not live together are to be prohibited.
Please play your part and adhere to this guidance.
Competitions and Markets Authority - Traders exploiting the current situation
The UK wide Competitions and Markets Authority want to receive information from the public about traders who are exploiting the current situation and have developed an online reporting form. Please use this form to report a business you think is acting unfairly during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak.
Update 20 March
West Lothian Council is temporarily suspending the provision of services at adult day care services, a family centre and making changes to residential respite care for adults and older people.
In response to the ongoing challenges caused by the coronavirus, Livingston-based services at Pathways at Quigley House, The Ability Centre (currently based in Deans High School), Eliburn Day Centre and Community Inclusion Team will close from Monday 23 March. Residential respite care for adults will be also be ceased.
Livingston Family Centre will also temporarily close from Monday 23 March.
All users of the services who are affected will be contacted directly, to inform them of the changes and discuss any alternative arrangements that can be put in place to meet their specific needs. Alternative support will be provided to the most vulnerable people affected by the requirement to make these difficult decisions.
Depute Chief Executive Allister Short said:
"It's essential that we manage resources to ensure that vital services are maintained throughout the current outbreak, so that the most vulnerable and at-risk people have the support they need.
"A significant number of people who usually attend our adult day care centres or receive residential respite have underlying health issues and additional vulnerabilities. The decision to temporarily cease these provisions has been taken after consideration of the potential impacts and in keeping with the most up to date health protection information.
"Alternative supports will be provided for the vulnerable families affected by the temporary closure of Livingston Family Centre.
"All clients affected by the changes will be contacted directly to discuss their individual situation and what alternatives can be put in place.
"The situation regarding coronavirus continues to be an evolving picture and we will continue to follow guidance from Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Government."
Bus services to change in West Lothian
West Lothian residents are being warned over temporary changes to the local bus network.
The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland has issued guidance changing the current regulations on making amendments to bus routes in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, meaning that routes can be altered with very short notice.
The coronavirus has had an impact on bus services due to staff shortages and a significant reduction in the number of people using public transport. The Traffic Commissioner has implemented the revised guidance to support commercial operators where they are no longer able sustain the current bus network.
Around 80% of bus journeys in West Lothian are purely commercial, with only 20% funded by the council.
With routes and times liable to change at short notice, anyone using public transport is advised to check their journey in advance using the Traveline app, Traveline Website or call the 24 hour hotline on 0871 200 22 33 24.
Head of Operational Service Jim Jack said:
"These are extremely challenging times for bus operators and local residents should expect significant changes to the bus network in West Lothian following the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland's decision.
"It will allow bus operators to make changes to routes and times, or even stop services completely, at very short notice.
"We are currently liaising with local operators to understand the route changes which are likely to be implemented. The council will continue to liaise with commercial operators to look at ways to ensure local communities continue to receive a service where possible.
"It is likely that timetables at bus stops will be out of date soon, so local residents are encouraged to check Traveline in advance, who will have the latest information."
Previously, the council had to be notified 28 days in advance of applying to the Traffic Commissioner to change a bus route.
The proposed changes could not normally come into effect until 42 days after the application was received by the commissioner, meaning the council would have 70 days to consider the impact of the changes on local communities and put any mitigation measures in place.
West Lothian Council schools and early learning centres will be closed to pupils and children after Friday 20 March until further notice following government advice.
We do not currently know how long schools will be closed for, and will make sure parents/carers are kept updated with developments.
All parents/carers will receive a letter from their school, detailing arrangements that have been put in place covering how young people can continue learning during the closure period.
Our priority is health and wellbeing and maintaining learning and teaching.
A small number of schools will be used to provide for limited numbers of pupils in specific groups, such as vulnerable children, children of key workers and those senior pupils who still have to complete course work for national qualifications. Further details of arrangements regarding this will be publicised when they are confirmed.
Local arrangements are being put in place for those entitled to free school lunches to ensure lunches and breakfast bars are available during the school closure period. Parents/carers will receive a groupcall giving them details of the arrangements in their local area.
Special cleaning arrangements and social distancing measures will be in all schools being used to safeguard pupils and staff.
Procedures will remain in place to ensure vulnerable children are safeguarded over the extended closure period, as currently takes place during school holidays.
This situation is constantly evolving. We understand you will have a lot of questions, but it is unlikely that we can answer individual questions from individual parents at this time.
When we have information to share it will be made via groupcall and available on the council's website and social media channels.
You can help keep yourself informed by checking these sources of information regularly.
Doctor Elaine Cook
Depute Chief Executive
West Lothian Council
West Lothian Council is set to focus on delivering essential services due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID 19).
The council will concentrate resources to make sure vital services are maintained, with greatly reduced staffing levels expected in the coming weeks.
National modelling estimates that councils will see absences of at least 50% over the months ahead due to the combination of illness, self-isolation and leave to care for family following the national decision to close schools.
Staffing levels and the council's ability to deliver services is an extremely serious issue and huge emphasis is being placed on planning and emergency contingency measures.
Guidance has been given to council staff on coronavirus in line with government advice, asking those with symptoms to stay at home for seven days and other family members for 14 days. Staff in the higher risk groups, such as those who are pregnant or have an underlying health condition, have been asked not to attend work and make arrangements to work from home, if possible.
Essential services such as careline, social care, care at home, waste collections, social work, essential housing repairs and care for vulnerable people will be among the key services which are prioritised.
The Council will continue to focus on our statutory duties under the Civil Contingencies Act. To enable this, the Council is suspending responses to enquiries or complaints about our service provision and will instead be focusing our efforts to prioritise our statutory services, caring for the vulnerable, cooperating with our Resilience Partners and supporting economic recovery.
Chief Executive Graham Hope added:
"Whilst our ability to deliver all the current services will be affected in the coming weeks, our dedicated staff will make every effort to ensure that essential services can continue and those who need our help can get it.
"The situation is very complex, with guidance coming from national government on a daily basis. Despite all our advance preparations, we will need to react dynamically as the situation develops.
"We would appeal for residents to be patient while we work through the impact of any updates and we will confirm details of service changes as soon as we practically can. We would appeal for residents to only contact the council only if necessary to allow staff to concentrate on the priorities. We thank everyone for their support."
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said:
"This is an unprecedented situation and will have a huge impact on the council's ability to deliver services.
"Our focus must therefore be on making sure that the essential services continue, while following the advice from Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government.
"We will continue to work with our partners to ensure the vital council functions that underpin our society can continue, as well as taking care of our most vulnerable residents. Local residents are thanked for their understanding as we concentrate on our core functions during this global emergency.
"It's been heartening to see the positive reaction in our communities, with people coming together to give support to those in need. We are working to coordinate third sector and volunteers to support the most vulnerable members of our communities."
All West Lothian councillors have cancelled upcoming surgeries in line with updated guidance regarding coronavirus.
The most recent advice from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) is that face-to-face surgeries and unnecessary appointments with constituents should not go ahead.
This aims to reduce the risks to vulnerable members of our communities.
Councillors can still be contacted for any constituency issues.
Please visit Councillor information pages for details of how to reach your local councillors.
The council is aware that there is a lot of interest from community groups to support vulnerable people in the community as a result of difficulties arising from COVID-19.
We're happy to offer support to co-ordinate local action. Council staff are currently contacting local groups to map the activity which is taking place in each area. This will also allow gaps in support to be identified.
If you are providing a local volunteering service as a result of COVID-19, please let the council know by email at: RegenerationTeam@westlothian.gov.uk
The council will work with community partners to co-ordinate activity across West Lothian in order to minimise duplication and identify any gaps. Our partners at the Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian (VSGWL) will be highlighting voluntary organisations that are urgently seeking volunteers and signposting individuals to these groups. VSGWL is also keen to hear from individuals who can volunteer locally. You can contact them by email: email@example.com or phone - 07712 521850.
The council will also be encouraging volunteering by its own workforce where possible.
As a reminder, while the community support is welcomed, care should be taken to ensure that the work does not increase the risk of infection and the council encourages all groups to follow government advice on minimising transmission including guidance on social distancing.
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "We would encourage all event organisers to follow advice from Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government regarding public gatherings.
Advice may change so organisers should check the guidance regularly as they prepare for future events.