York’s busiest city centre spaces are set for increased protection from terrorist attacks under plans unveiled by the council to combat the threat posed to UK cities by terrorists, which will be reviewed by two separate council committees over the next two weeks.
Following representations from counter-terrorist experts and the police, a decision was taken by the Executive in February to commission independent security experts to develop a plan for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.
After reviewing all the city centre access points, the report recommends changes in the first ‘priority zone’ including Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate.
Ultimately this will involve replacing many of the existing temporary measures, such as those at the end of Parliament Street, with permanent fixtures.
The council plans to introduce this as an experimental traffic order, which will give up to six months to understand the impact and work with affected groups like residents, retailers and disabled people.
Before the decision is taken on Thursday 27 September, the Executive has requested that the proposals are presented to today's (Tuesday’s) Economy and Place Development Committee, so the committee can consider the potential impact that the measures could have on disabled access to the city centre.
Councillor Ian Gillies, leader of City of York Council, said:
“The safety of everyone in our city is our highest priority. While terror attacks in the UK are very rare, we simply have to act to deter would-be attackers and reassure the public that we’re alive to the risks.
“We’ve worked with the police, counter-terrorist unit and city partners like the racecourse and Minster to introduce temporary measures to reduce the threat of a vehicle accessing high footfall and event spaces in the city.
“We’ve commissioned experts who are used to working in places with a special, historic character so we can find permanent security measures which are fitting for our city.”
The current threat level across the UK from international terrorism remains severe, meaning an attack is highly likely and the police reiterate long-standing advice to remain vigilant an alert.