Councils rake in £1m in rule-flouting fines

Town hall Covid marshals have handed out more than £1million of on-the-spot fines to businesses which failed to enforce pandemic regulations, an investigation found yesterday.

The report by the Manifesto Club research group also found that the onset of the virus meant councils added nearly 2,000 more local wardens to their growing army of enforcement officials with the power to levy fines.

Based on Freedom of Information requests, it said marshals imposed 1,201 penalties to businesses for violating Covid restrictions – amounting to £1,076,820.

Unlike fines paid to the courts, councils can keep the money from fines they impose.

Town hall Covid marshals have handed out more than £1million of on-the-spot fines to businesses which failed to enforce pandemic regulations, an investigation found yesterday (stock image)

Town hall Covid marshals have handed out more than £1million of on-the-spot fines to businesses which failed to enforce pandemic regulations, an investigation found yesterday (stock image)

Town hall Covid marshals have handed out more than £1million of on-the-spot fines to businesses which failed to enforce pandemic regulations, an investigation found yesterday (stock image)

Among penalties were £1,000 fines for pubs and restaurants which neglected to maintain their two metre distance between tables, where there was ‘mingling’ of guests or where different families were allowed to eat together. 

Others were fined because they did not display a QR code.

Report author Josie Appleton said: ‘Government seems intent on piling more and more enforcement powers on local authorities, but these lack basic accountability.

‘Government doesn’t even keep statistics on the use of these powers, let alone ensure that they are being used fairly.’ 

She added that allowing councils to keep money from fines ‘creates the potential for corruption and fines harvesting’. 

The reports said councils are at present employing 1,867 covid marshals with orders to pass on information about offending businesses to council enforcement officers and the police.

Among penalties were £1,000 fines for pubs and restaurants which neglected to maintain their two metre distance between tables, where there was 'mingling' of guests or where different families were allowed to eat together (stock image)

Among penalties were £1,000 fines for pubs and restaurants which neglected to maintain their two metre distance between tables, where there was 'mingling' of guests or where different families were allowed to eat together (stock image)

Among penalties were £1,000 fines for pubs and restaurants which neglected to maintain their two metre distance between tables, where there was ‘mingling’ of guests or where different families were allowed to eat together (stock image) 

Four out of 10 councils said they used private companies to supply their Covid marshals.

It reported that in two areas, Folkestone and Pembrokeshire, marshals have been carrying out joint patrols with police, while in Luton Covid marshals are wearing body cameras.

Researchers said the army of marshals enforcing Covid rules have joined thousands of others policing a range of offences penalised by councils that has mushroomed since Tony Blair’s government first asked town halls to hand out fines for poor behaviour in 1997.

In that year councils gave out just 1,000 on-the-spot fines for littering or dog fouling.

But the report said there have now been 4.7 million penalties for parking offences, 250,000 for litter, a million moving traffic offences, and 10,000 anti-social behaviour offences punished by council wardens.

Unlike fines paid to the courts, councils can keep the money from fines they impose.

Link hienalouca.com

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