Councils given £500k to monitor coronavirus restrictions - but will it mean marshals?
PUBLISHED: 10:23 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:46 08 October 2020
More than £1/2m has been awarded to councils in Norfolk and Waveney to step up checks to make sure people and businesses comply with coronavirus rules.
But it is not yet clear if any of Norfolk’s councils will use their share of the money to pay for the coronavirus marshals scheme prime minister Boris Johnson announced last month.
As well as £30m to be shared between councils, the government also announced a further £30m of surge funding cash will go to police forces.
Norfolk police will get £335,622 to step up enforcement of coronavirus and Suffolk police will receive £270,181.
The government says the money will enable police to increase patrols in town centres and ensure that people are complying with the new restrictions, particularly in high-risk areas.
They say police will also provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test & Trace to enforce self-isolation requirements.
The government says local councils will use the funding to increase their compliance work and enforcement checks on businesses.
Norwich will get almost £86,000, West Norfolk about £83,000, Great Yarmouth nearly £68,000 and Breckland just over £66,000.
South Norfolk has been awarded about £57,000, North Norfolk just over £52,000 abd Broadland a little shy of £50,000.
East Suffolk Council will get about £121,000.
The government says councils have a “central role” to play in ensuring compliance with COVID-19 guidance in their local communities, such as through environmental health officers, who are responsible for explaining and encouraging businesses and communities to follow the latest guidelines, carrying out inspections, issuing fines and closing premises in the case of non-compliance.
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Councils have been given a list of ways they can spend the money, including on dedicated staff to encourage compliance with the rules, such as the coronavirus marshals.
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “The vast majority of the British public has come together, followed the law and helped prevent the spread of this virus.
“But we’ve been clear that, with infections rising, we will not allow a small minority of people to reverse our hard-won progress.
“This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences.”
And local government secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Since the start of the pandemic people and businesses across the country have pulled together and followed the latest guidelines – this will be more important than ever as we head into the winter.
“That’s why we are giving councils a further £30m in new funding to support their work on compliance and enforcement in their communities.”
The government has stressed the marshals would help businesses and communities to follow the latest guidelines, freeing up the police and other enforcement officers such as environmental health officers.
They said those marshals would not carry out an enforcement role, which would still be the role of the police and designated local council enforcement officers.
Instead they would work with local businesses on queue management, directing pedestrians and supporting social distancing in busy public areas, reminding members of the public to wear face coverings and helping with the regular cleaning of touch points.
Norfolk’s councils have expressed little interest in the coronavirus marshals scheme previously. North Norfolk Council said last month that its peak tourist season had passed and rates are low, so it had no plans to appoint them.
And Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said any scheme would need money behind it, training, a time for implementation and additional resources for councils are already working at maximum capacity.
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