In the early 1990s, when city councils began their war on the motorist in earnest, several UK councils purchased surplus East German Police uniforms to kit-out their newly created parking wardens. Traffic Wardens, who had worked directly under the local Constabulary, worked ‘alongside’ the new Parking Wardens for a while but soon disappeared as councils gave themselves more and more powers to restrict, fine and ban the motorcar as they saw fit. Hoards of STASI style Wardens now carry out the orders of faceless bureaucrats right across the country, either restricting where cars can go or extracting money from the driver in a win-win for councils.
Parking wardens are not the only foot-soldiers for the modern STASI Councils, as there are an army of officious, uniformed ‘officers’ now employed to ensure compliance with ever increasing rules that nobody appears to have asked for, or voted on. Now councils have no end of jobsworths in their ranks: County-Park Guardians, Community Officers, Street-scene Officers, Community-Safety Officers, Community-Wellbeing Service Officers, Neighbourhood-Pride Managers, Street-Scene Managers, the list goes on and on. If you have ever stopped to think what the council actually do with the thousands you give them every year that’s pretty much it: Create more and more rules to keep us in our place and employ more and more people to enforce them.
Now we are going to be watched like felons, and herded like sheep by a new breed of professional busybody: The Covid Marshal. Councils (and the Guardian) were quick to say these “would never happen” just moments before Boris Johnson announced there would be an “army of Covid Marshals” saying the government and the public want to see "stronger enforcement of the rules”.
Johnson also said these Marshals can either be volunteers or existing members of council staff, whilst the Local Government Association (LGA) said "any new responsibilities for councils in this area will have to be fully funded" because, let's face it, no council will ever take on any task without ‘further funding’ even if the idea of more ridiculous rules does appeal to them. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government told the BBC that some areas of the country had already introduced marshals - including Leeds and Cornwall - meaning that councils and the Guardian were giving out false information (and not for the first time) Councils said the marshals "were positively welcomed by our businesses as necessary and effective in supporting the evening and night-time economy to reopen safely”, it didn’t ask its actually clients though: the residents in its towns and cities, because they, after all, are the potential ‘law breakers’ and, therefore their opinion is not wanted.
The government has said that the duties of the Covid Marshals will be ‘a matter for local authorities’ so expect them to be particularly petty and officious when they approach you, especially if you are unlucky enough to live in a town run by a Labour council. Marshals do not have the power to enforce social distancing or to issue fines to anyone who break the rules, but don’t think that you will escape a fine that way, councils are already working on ways for these fines to be applied (and for the money to be raked in), with CCTV, body cameras, phone tracking, open channel radio links to police and a host of other ways to keep tabs on you. Rest assured Councils will not miss an opportunity of another rules-based revenue-stream. If you think that these fluorescent-jacketed plastic-police will give you a cheery smile and pass you a wet-wipe you’re sadly mistaken. Their job is specifically to restrict your life and freedoms, that’s it, so expect them to be stroppy, officious and small-minded. They’ll be imbued with the type of horrible personality every doctor’s receptionist seems to have these days.