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York is the latest city to review vehicle access to its historic centre to respond to the ‘severe’ terrorist threat level.
A review of how vehicles access the city centre and by the Minster and York Racecourse on race days is proposed in line with police advice. A report to the City of York Council executive, meeting on February 8, said temporary measures and a one-year trial in a ‘phased approach’ are proposed. The report asks the executive of councillors to let the council ‘restrict vehicular access into areas where there is significant footfall’, as soon as possible given the risks identified by police, but ‘in a managed and qualitative way in consultation with key partners’ such as the business improvement district, besides the likes of the Minster.
As background, York is one of the most visited places in the UK and the number of vehicles in the city centre is already limited at busy times. As in other UK cities, and as featured in the January 2018 print issue of Professional Security magazine, traffic calming measures were in place at Christmas 2017, for keeping pedestrians safer (against vehicle attacks as in Nice and against the Christmas market in Berlin) while allowing delivery vehicles controlled entry at permitted times.
As the report to the council admitted, potential changes to traffic restrictions may affect disabled parking; and shops and businesses may need to adjust their deliveries. While York Racecourse is quiet except on race days, proposals can be trialled and refined over a year to achieve the balance between what’s good for locals, traffic flow and public safety, the report says. Meanwhile, officers will continue to work with the Minster to develop proposals for vehicle restrictions in its vicinity and approaches.
Ian Gillies, executive member for transport and planning at City of York Council, said: “Our priority is the safety and security of all those attending or involved in events in York, and residents and visitors are encouraged to continue with plans to attend or take part as normal. Terror attacks in the UK, while very rare, understandably create great concern. With our partners, and most especially the police, we want to deter any would-be attackers and reassure the public that we are alert to the risks and are working to help protect them.”
Supt Lindsey Robson, of North Yorkshire Police’s York and Selby Command said: “The threat level for the whole of the UK from international terrorism remains at ‘Severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely. Therefore, like all forces, we continue to take appropriate steps to protect our communities. The safety of those who live, work and visit York is our main priority and our security measures and activities are constantly reviewed to reflect where the threats exist. As always, we continue to advise the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour or activity to police, in confidence on 0800 789 321 or gov.uk/ACT or, in an emergency, the public should always call 999.”
For more details see from page 133 of the agenda document for the February 8 meeting.
Picture by Mark Rowe; York Minster front, summer 2017. As featured in the December 2017 print issue of Professional Security magazine, a dozen security blocks were installed at the West End front of the Minster in November, on police recommendation.