More than 2,000 complaints over businesses not following Covid rules

More than 2,000 whistle-blowing calls have been made to councils across the Black Country to report businesses not complying with coronavirus guidelines, it has been revealed.

Dozens of calls were also made to Stafford and Cannock councils – with locals concerned that businesses were not following Covid rules.

Since March 1, a total of 2,043 calls were made to Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall councils – from members of the public about businesses they believe were not complying with Government guidance.

Council chiefs have been working with local police forces to follow up each complaint – making sure companies are informed of the guidelines and issuing staff with a warning if changes are not made. If the warning is not heeded, formal enforcement action is then taken.

More Covid-19 coverage:

In Dudley, 802 enquiries have been received regarding businesses not following the rules. Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Dudley Council is working with businesses and residents across the borough to control the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

“Our trading standards and environmental health teams are working around the clock to ensure businesses are complying with the latest government advice and we treat any complaints very seriously.”

In Sandwell, 598 complaints were received – with 18 warning letters issued. Sandwell Council’s deputy leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “Our message is that if a shop, pub or restaurant isn’t keeping you safe – don’t go there.

“Any pub, shop or restaurant that isn’t following the Covid-19 rules isn’t looking after their customers’ health and they face enforcement action and potential closure.

“Businesses and their customers need to take this seriously. If a shop, pub, restaurant or any other business isn’t safe, then go somewhere else that is.”

Challenging

In Walsall, the team received 568 complaints since March. The sector with the most complaints was pubs, with 114, followed by retail with 59, hair and beauty with 53, and restaurants and takeaways with 43 complaints.

The most complaints came from the Walsall Central area.

Councillor Garry Perry, deputy leader said said: “Quite rightly people will have an opinion and be concerned regarding breaches of social distancing. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all play our part in these most challenging of days – hands, face, space – it really couldn’t be any simpler.”

In Wolverhampton, bosses said 373 Covid-related calls had been made since March.

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for environment, said: "Most businesses in Wolverhampton are absolutely obeying the law and following the rules to keep their customers and staff safe. We know this because our teams have carried out many inspections and visits, spoken to business owners on the phone and written to thousands of businesses to provide advice and guidance.

"We have received calls from the public who are concerned about those minority of businesses who are putting people in danger and flouting the rules and we are following those up with visits and inspections and where necessary will take action - as we have seen through the closure of businesses which were non-compliant."

Cannock Chase Council did not have specific figures but said it ha dealt with approximately a dozen calls over the last couple of months, all of which will have been dealt with.

And Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment at Stafford Borough Council, who represents the council on the Staffordshire Covid-19 board, said: "We have received complaints from residents about businesses which they believe are not complying with Covid-19 regulations.

"But we are pleased that the vast majority of businesses in Stafford Borough have been responsible and have put in place the appropriate measures to adhere to government guidance. We are also there to help our businesses with advice and support to ensure they understand what they must do."

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