We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Covid-secure Marshals: another 'oven ready' idea?

September 15, 2020 10:28 AM

Local councils across the country have been left perplexed by the shambolic nature of the government's announcement last week that Covid-secure marshals will be introduced in towns and city centres in England to try and ensure that social distancing rules are followed.

Miles Trent

Liberal Democrat Councillor Miles Trent states:

"The government has indicated that local authorities are to work out the details of the scheme, but it has not announced any additional funding to help local councils pay for the marshals. In fact, no guidance has yet been given as to funding, personnel or powers of enforcement, and no timescale or details have been given for recruitment or security checks of the marshals, or how they will be accountable for their role. There are many unanswered questions. We don't even know if they are to be paid or volunteer positions."

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, councils are best placed to "determine the model of deployment and responsibilities of marshals in their areas", but only vague promises have so far been made of further details to be provided at an unspecified time.

Cllr Trent adds:

"We of course see that it is vital to keep the numbers of new Coronavirus infections as low as possible, and hence the importance of complying with social distancing rules and rules preventing gatherings of more than 6 people. However, it is essential that government policies to ensure compliance are properly thought through rather than being dealt with by hasty press releases. To me, this is another example of the Prime Minister seizing on a picturesque phrase, such as 'oven-ready', 'bridge to Ireland', or 'stay alert', but with no proper planning or depth of thought behind the words. This is becoming a real concern and is leading to a loss of trust in the government's handling of this crisis."

Cllr Trent has also pointed out that the unexpected and confusing announcement of Covid marshals is a good example of the need for regular meetings of Lichfield City Council, to give proper scrutiny to new measures which might affect our community. At a recent meeting of Lichfield City Council (held on Zoom), there was a proposal to reduce the number of meetings of the council held each year, with the Liberal Democrat councillors alone opposing this move.

One of the objections raised by the Lib Dems to the proposal was that in a time of crisis, such as the current pandemic, a quick response by LCC might be called for in the case of a reintroduction of lockdown or similar restrictions. Although LCC would have only a limited role regarding the implementation of such measures, the detailed local knowledge of City and Parish Councillors in the district could be invaluable to any District Council plans regarding schemes such as the Covid marshals. This is especially true of Lichfield City itself, where gatherings requiring action by these "marshals" are more likely to take place.