COVID-19 stewards to focus on the largest towns across Central Bedfordshire

Central Bedfordshire Council has employed 16 new COVID-19 stewards. These are to support businesses and the public to understand and follow COVID-19 public health measures.

The stewards will undertake patrols across Central Bedfordshire to engage, explain and encourage best practice and promote the national guidance, such as social distancing, wearing face coverings in appropriate settings and hand washing.

They will also be gathering intelligence and information on potential COVID-19 regulation breaches. These will be passed on to the relevant council officers to support further investigation and possible enforcement. They will also report incidents to Bedfordshire Police.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, executive member for Community Services, said:

“With COVID-19 infections on the rise it’s now more important than even that businesses are COVID-19 secure, and that the public understands the restrictions in place.

“I am pleased that our new stewards are now in place and will help us to raise awareness and encourage the public and businesses to comply with COVID-19 public health measures and have an understanding of the latest regulations and guidance.

“Now is the time to get tough on businesses and the public who are not taking the pandemic seriously. There is a real need for everyone to stick to the rules to protect themselves and others.

“Most of our local businesses have worked really hard over recent months to ensure they are up to date with the latest guidance, and to protect public health as much as possible. It is simply not acceptable for businesses or the public not to be complying with the rules.

“The stewards will feedback any breaches to our officers and the police and we will, where appropriate issues fines to those flouting the rules.”

The COVID stewards will not be focusing on visiting the wards with the highest number of cases (see the above table). They will be undertaking visits to Biggleswade, Sandy, Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Ampthill, Flitwick, Shefford and Houghton Regis.

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokesperson said:

“Our COVID-19 Stewards are focusing on the largest towns across Central Bedfordshire, however we do appreciate that there may be other areas that need patrolling and it is our intention to be as flexible as we can.

“Officers from our public protection and community safety teams will also be continuing to undertake regular patrols and visits to businesses across the whole of Central Bedfordshire, to ensure everyone is adhering to government guidelines and offering advice and support where needed.”

The new stewards will work from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week and will be wearing video cameras on their bodies and high visibility jackets to identify them as council COVID-19 stewards.

Anyone who has concerns about businesses not complying with the measures set out, should email trading.standards@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk with the subject ‘COVID Business Compliance’.

Reports will then be investigated by the appropriately delegated officers.