BARNSLEY has yet to receive any funding for Covid marshals - but existing council employees are taking on responsibility for ensuring coronavirus rules are followed across the borough.
The government envisage marshals advising and supporting members of the public and businesses in following social distancing, and have provided £30m nationwide to aid recruitment.
It says marshals can be existing members of council staff, new recruits or agency staff and it expects them to be paid.
Marshals cannot enforce the rules, but it is hoped they will take some pressure off police and council officers, who do have powers.
It’s proposed their duties will include helping businesses manage queues, supporting social distancing in crowded areas, reminding people to wear a face mask when necessary and assisting with the cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces.
The £30m can be used to fund marshals, but councils can also choose to spend it on increasing public awareness of coronavirus rules via advertising, signage and educational campaigns as well as their enforcement and associated staff, training or overtime costs.
While £485,826, the highest figure of any council, has gone to Leeds and £348,384 to Sheffield, Barnsley has yet to receive any funding, according to council leader Sir Steve Houghton.
“Barnsley Council has taken a proactive approach to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, using the strengths of the existing workforce and boots on the ground to adapt ways of working to meet the needs of communities,” said a statement.
“As part of our borough-wide initiative to help provide reassurance and keep residents safe, the council have continued ‘Joining Forces’ through their teams and key partners.
“The council have received no funding to recruit Covid marshals as described by the prime minister, however, they are utilising existing resources where possible to fulfil the marshal responsibilities.”
Sir Steve told the Chronicle: “I am incredibly proud of the way in which our staff have adapted to meet the needs of residents and businesses during the pandemic.
“We’ve been able to adjust the activities our employees undertake to flexibly meet additional demands to make sure our residents stay safe.
“Trying to fulfil the Covid marshal responsibilities with our existing employees is not an easy task, given no additional funding has yet been received.
“However, our employees have shown their commitment to engaging, explaining and encouraging the public to follow government guidance, and I would like to share a big thank you to them for their work.”
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Funding missing for town’s promised ‘Covid marshals’
Author: Doug Thomson
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