Fylde Council will have to fund the high-visibility Covid-secure marshals announced by Boris Johnson if they are to be employed locally to enforce stricter rules on social gatherings. Councils today have learnt thay there will be no extra funding for the new marshals from the Government. However, local authorities will be strongly encouraged to hire their own eye-catching, visible marshals, or use lsuitable attired local volunteers or existing council employees, with money from their own budgets, a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said today.

The Prime Minister told Wednesday’s press conference on Wednesday the marshals would boost the local enforcement capacity with the new rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. Quick off the mark, marshals have already been deployed by Leeds City Council and Cornwall Council.

Marshalls should wear high-visibility clothing to be noticeable in their role to support members of the public in one-way systems and remind them of guidelines. The marshals could also be used to hand out masks and hand sanitiser in public places. However, they will be powerless as they will not be given enforcement authority in the new legislation banning people in England from meeting in groups of more than six from Monday.  They would have to call the police to deal with potential problems.

Nesil Caliskan, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘We need to quickly see further detail on how the Government’s Covid-19-secure marshal scheme is intended to work, and any new responsibilities for councils in this area will have to be fully funded.’

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said that rank-and-file officers have been left absolutely and totally baffled by the announcement. He said: ‘Any help is good help but what I’d like to understand is what actually is their role, what are we asking them to do?’

TheMHCLG spokeswoman added, ‘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.’