The safety of visitors to Chester is now enhanced by a new network of bollards installed so the city centre can be locked down at a moment’s notice.
Following terrorist incidents involving vehicles as weapons in other busy urban areas across the world in recent years, Cheshire West and Chester Council is heeding the advice of Cheshire Police and joining other local authorities in improving safety measures in cities.
Security bollards have been installed in strategic spots around the city centre to form a protective barrier which surrounds the central streets and protects large crowds during large public events or busy shopping days from the threat of vehicles being used as a weapon.
The bollards are a mix of automated, manual and fixed designs. They are robust and designed to stop vehicles traveling at speed.
There is currently no specific threat against Chester, but police will be able to activate the bollards and lockdown the city to protect visitors from any perceived threat in the future.
They will also be used to implement Chester’s current traffic regulation order which prevents vehicles from entering the city centre from Monday to Saturday 10.30am-4.30pm, and 10.30am-8pm at Eastgate.
In line with this traffic regulation order, access during these times will only be given to emergency services, blue badge holders, and permit holders. Taxi drivers are only permitted if they have a blue badge holder in their vehicle.
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “Chester is now an even safer place to visit, with the installation of this important safety infrastructure. The bollards are of a high standard and will protect residents and visitors to Chester from people intent on using vehicles as a weapon.
“Installation of the bollards began in May and we completed much of the work during lockdown in order to reduce disruption to businesses and residents. Our contractors were able to work while social distancing in line with COVID-19 secure guidelines from the Government.”
Assistant Chief Constable for Cheshire Constabulary Matt Burton said: “We’ve been working with Cheshire West and Chester Council for the past couple of years to develop a vehicle lockdown project that will protect the public during major events from a vehicle borne threat, and it is pleasing to see our joint plans become a reality with the installation of the bollards. I hope the ongoing work we are doing to protect the city reassures residents and businesses.
“Vehicle borne attacks in London and Paris in recent times remind us that the threat is real. Having said that, there is no intelligence to suggest that Chester is at any specific risk. This measure is just part of an overall protective security plan designed to keep people safe whilst in Chester city centre.
“This plan has also included specialist training for staff in the city’s businesses, shops, faith groups, and council departments. Together with Project Servator – a policing tactic to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the community.”
Dave Kitchin, Cheshire and Merseyside Head of Service for North West Ambulance Service, said: “I’m delighted to see this work completed. NWAS is supportive of the project and see it as sensible move to improve public safety.
“The construction of these security bollards will have minimal impact on our emergency response within the city centre but will significantly reduce the danger posed by vehicle related threats to shoppers and visitors.”
Alex Waller, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It’s great to see that our joint plans to make Chester even safer have come to fruition. The new measures will protect the public and will not impede our ability to gain access in emergencies.”
This installation was completed in partnership with ATG Access and Ringway.