City Assembly Member calls on Government to provide funding for ‘Covid Marshals’


City & East London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai AM says Government urgently needs to provide details on how it proposes to fund the “Covid Marshals” it has recently announced.

Mr Desai said the Government needs to add substance to what is currently a “meaningless” announcement in the absence of any funding for local councils for these extra enforcement officers.

Boris Johnson announced on 9 September that Covid Marshals would be introduced to help “boost local enforcement capacity”, at the same time as he set out new laws to restrict most types of gatherings to no more than six people.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that there are no plans to give the marshals powers to issue fines and that they would be introduced primarily to offer guidance and advice to members of the public on the new rules around the size of social gatherings. It has also said councils could draw on existing staff or volunteers to fill the roles.

At a meeting of the Police and Crime Committee, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden said that there was widespread confusion amongst local councils in relation to the announcement and who was going to pay for the new marshals, adding that existing council enforcement officers are “already working very hard in making sure people are keeping to Covid-19 regulations”.

At Mayor’s Question Time, Sadiq Khan agreed with Mr Desai that the Government needs to urgently explain the new scheme is expected to work and how Government proposes to fund them.

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The Mayor branded the proposals “ridiculous” and said he’d spoken to council leaders across London who were “perplexed”. He concluded by saying “I’ll continue to try and find out what this [proposal] means. It’s another example of confused communications and mixed messages from this Government.”

Mr Desai said: “The lack of warning about and dearth of detail accompanying this announcement has astonished local councils across London.

“Whilst the Government has so far provided very little detail at all about these marshals, at face value it appears as if the Government expects local councils to introduce additional enforcement officers to help ensure people are sticking to the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

“While these marshals could play a very valuable role, if this announcement is to be more than just a headline grabbing ambition then the Government needs to provide our cash strapped local councils with the funding needed to support their introduction.

“I would also urge the Government to give proper consideration to the impact of future policy proposals of this kind, and avoid causing further confusion inside local government by making meaningless announcements like this one.”

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