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Call for clarity on Government’s Covid street marshals plan

Cornwall Council has called on the government to providmore clarity about its plans to introduce new Covid-19 secure marshals in towns and city centres. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government held up Cornwall’s Safer Summer Scheme as an example to other local authorities. It involved street marshals patrolling a limited number of towns to watch for anti-social behaviour and advise on social distancing. 

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The scheme - which ends later this month and was co-funded by the council, town and parish councils, and the Police and Crime Commissioners office – was very different to the Government’s new marshals initiative, which will have a completely different remit. 

With local authority budgets already under pressure responding to the pandemic, there is a need for more detail on what exactly the Government is proposing, and whether any resources will be provided by the Treasury to back it.    

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Rob Nolan, said: “We are pleased to hear that Cornwall’s Safer Summer Scheme may have inspired the Government’s suggestion of street marshals to help monitor the ‘rule of six’ across the country.  

Many of Cornwall’s town centres have had a successful programme of marshal street patrols aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour and advising on social distancing. They were locally funded and proved to be an effective addition to other measures put in place to tackle this briefer but busier summer tourist season. Feedback from the public and businesses has been positive. 

But this new suggestion of a Cornwall-wide marshal workforce raises resource issues, especially now as Cornwall begins its annual budget-setting process next week amid continuing uncertainty about the demands of the ongoing health crisis.    

Rob Nolan added: “The Prime Minister is asking us to recruit and train a large new cohort of special Covid 19 Marshals, but first we must seek clarity from Government on how this is to be achieved, on what scale, and by when. 

Cornwall Council, like all local authorities, is beginning the Budget-setting process that leads to next year’s Council Tax bills. Everyone knows we face unprecedented spending pressures, so we will need to know promptly what – if anyGovernment resources can be called on to help with this initiative.” 

The call for clarity extends to the Police, who will need to understand their role in supporting the new marshals, who are almost certain not to have any enforcement powers themselves. 

Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, Alison Hernandez, said: “Marshals have helped de-escalate tensions involving people who have had too much to drink, helped to locate missing people, discourage littering and encourage social distancing, so it’s no surprise that these scheme has been warmly welcomed by local authority partners, the public and the hospitality sector. 

“I will be happy to help input into the Government’s plans as we await further clarity on how the scheme might be funded in the future.” 

   

 Published on September 11, 2020