Kirklees Covid wardens 'have no power to enforce guidelines'

New Covid wardens employed to ensure businesses in Kirklees are Covid safe  will have no power to enforce guidelines.

One of the Covid Community Support Officers hired by Kirklees Council to ensure businesses and places of worship are following Covid guidelines.

Instead they will refer any breaches or other issues onto Kirklees Council.

A council spokesman said: “Officers do not have enforcement powers. They are the primarily there to provide support and guidance for businesses while subsequently keeping our communities safe.

“The team can refer issues on to other council officers such as environmental health, licensing, grants and Safer Kirklees.”

There are currently 23 wardens, known as Covid Community Support Officers, or CSSOs, employed by the council working across the borough.

The scheme, which is paid for by the government, has so far cost £502,000.

The council intends boosting existing numbers by adding more staff, taking the final tally up to 43.

Staff have been employed on fixed term 12-month contracts. , The authority will look six-month contracts as it brings in new employees “depending on need and forecasting for future demand”.

The council stressed that the cost of the CSSO posts is not shouldered by local council tax payers with the positions funded through central government grants and funds.

They include the Community Testing Programme (CTP), Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), Local Authority Test and Trace Support Grant and Local Authority Compliance and Enforcement Grant.

Described as “a visible presence” the CSSOs have been making 100 visits per day to businesses and other venues such as places of worship.

Their role involves them being out and about in local communities, providing “reassurance and advice” to residents and supporting essential businesses to ensure they are Covid secure.

The council said CCSOs are being employed on both a part- and full-time basis.

The cost per full-time CCSO is around £25,000, which takes account of salaries and equipment.

The programme has been described as “a significant investment” that not only supports the local economy but enhances safety in the community “and ultimately puts us in a favourable position as we move through the government’s proposed roadmap out of lockdown”.

The council said its priority is to keep residents safe “and employing local people who know Kirklees’ communities is key to achieving this”.