The Local Government Association is growing increasingly concerned about “unacceptable” attacks on council workers carrying out essential duties and implementing the Government’s social distancing policy during the coronavirus crisis.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, understands that emotions and tensions are running high during this unprecedented time.
It is calling on the public to respect the tireless efforts of council workers – from social care staff to refuse collectors and highways crews to maintenance workers – as they go about their work to keep essential services going for communities while reducing risk during the coronavirus lockdown.
It comes as councils have reported several sickening physical and verbal assaults on council staff, including an incident where a cyclist deliberately rode into a council officer and broke his leg. Other council staff – which include recycling workers, park groundskeepers, civil enforcement officers, road engineers and bus drivers taking children of key workers to and from school – have been spat and sworn at, shoved by members of the public, and racially abused.
The LGA is also emphasising how vital it is for people to comply with government guidance on social distancing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Flouting these restrictions could put lives at risk and prolong the spread of the virus, and force councils to consider closing public spaces, such as parks and playgrounds, for public safety reasons.
Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said:
“Council staff are leading local efforts to support communities through the coronavirus crisis, working day and night to protect communities and keep the services they rely on running.
“Local government workers should always be respected and valued – even more so in these challenging times – when they are needed more than ever.
“It is becoming increasingly concerning to hear that local government workers are being subjected to physical and verbal abuse as they try and play their part in keeping the country running through this crisis.
“This is unacceptable, and it has to stop.”