Working in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire Police and other emergency services, ATG Access will assist by designing and installing hydraulic bollards at strategically-placed locations in the city centre over the next six months.
The bollards being installed are robust enough to halt vehicles in their tracks, preventing cars and vans from being used as weapons to attack crowded spaces. The bollards would be activated during large scale public events to protect the public, or in response to intelligence or a heightened threat level, and used to mitigate vehicle traffic within the city centre.
Approved vehicles and blue badge holders will continue to have daily access to the city centre once the bollards are deployed, in line with the current traffic regulation order. While roads will be closed to public vehicles during events, delivery times for businesses will continue as normal and emergency vehicles will be able access the city centre when necessary. Key stakeholders, such as Chester residents and local businesses, will continue to be kept informed during the project and consulted with where necessary.
The project will take place over spring and summer 2020, with the aim to be fully completed by the autumn. Social distancing will be observed by the teams carrying out the installation work, which begins during the lockdown period.
While there is no specific threat against the city, the purpose of the project is to use the time when pedestrian footfall is reduced due to lockdown measures to invest in Chester’s defence and security measures without causing unnecessary disruption to the public. This follows advice from the police and draws on advice from other local authorities across the country to improve the protection of busy urban areas while the public follows Government directives to stay at home.
Iain Moran, director at ATG Access, said: “It’s fantastic to see the city of Chester taking such a proactive stance in using this downtime to further improve public safety during this unprecedented period. We look forward to working together with Cheshire West and Chester Council and emergency services to ensure that the city’s defence and security measures are in place and ready to go once normality resumes.”
Councillor Karen Shore, deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, and cabinet member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “In recent years there have been incidents around the world where terrorists have used vehicles to harm people. By installing this robust equipment in Chester, we are protecting residents and visitors from people intent on using vehicles as a weapon. I can reassure people that there is no specific threat to the city of Chester. But, unfortunately, we are one of many cities around the world having to improve security in the light of new threats to democracy and our way of life. The bollards have been carefully designed to blend into the unique historic heritage of Chester.”