Covid Marshal scheme 'won't quite work as advertised'

10 September 2020, 18:20

"Covid-secure marshals" announced as part of a plan to enforce stricter rules on social gatherings will have no formal powers and must be paid for by local authorities.

LBC's Senior Reporter Matthew Thompson revealed that the scheme was not "quite going to work as advertised."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference on Wednesday the marshals would "boost the local enforcement capacity" as he announced new rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Matthew told Eddie Mair he had spoken to a local council source who was "completely in the dark" while the Local Government Association said there was "widespread confusion."

However, Matthew was able to say that the new marshals would not have any additional powers and they would not be able to issue fines.

He spoke to Downing Street who told him enforcement would remain a matter for the police.

"Perhaps most significantly, " Matthew said, "there's no new money for these marshals."

He added councils would not be able to access funds from the Government and it would be up to them to decide what they would do.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference on Wednesday the marshals would "boost the local enforcement capacity" [File Photo]
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference on Wednesday the marshals would "boost the local enforcement capacity" [File Photo]. Picture: PA

Jonathan Prior from Leeds City Council said they would "love some more details on what exactly they are and what their powers are."

He also said the Government would have to pay for them as they are "not in a position to be hiring several more people with a remit that we're not exactly sure of."

Matthew ended by saying: "Without the money, it's just a line in the speech."

Asked for further details on the introduction of marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, a spokesman from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "We are encouraging the introduction of Covid-secure marshals to help support our high streets and public spaces, making sure that people feel safe to enjoy them.

"Some areas of the country have already introduced marshals to support the public in following the guidelines in a friendly way and we will be working with local authorities to see where else they are needed. We will be setting out further details in due course."

The Government said where marshals have already been introduced, they have had responsibilities including "directing pedestrians, providing information, cleaning touchpoints, preventing mixing between groups and being a point of contact for information on government guidelines".

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