Council invests £800,000 to keep city centre safe

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Efforts to prevent an attack by a terrorist driving a vehicle through the centre of Canterbury are moving forward.

On the advice of counter-terrorism police, Canterbury City Council’s engineers have been working hard in the background to implement a scheme designed to stop a hostile vehicle entering the pedestrianised centre of the city.

A system of automated, manually retractable and static bollards will be installed by the summer to provide a security cordon that blends in with the existing environment, the conservation area and listed buildings.

It aims to keep the public safe while helping to keep the city’s welcoming atmosphere and ensuring businesses can operate normally.

Canterbury City Council Chief Executive, Colin Carmichael, said: “There is no specific intelligence which says Canterbury is at risk but we need to take sensible precautions to ensure we keep everyone as safe as possible.

“Being a historic city and home to the cathedral, Canterbury has a large number of challenges relating to its narrow streets, the volume of visitors, areas of archaeological importance and a high density of pipes belonging to the utility companies under the ground.

“Our experts have carried out ground-penetrating radar surveys to accurately find buried services, to ensure the proposed bollard locations are suitable and to minimise any disruption to businesses in the city. Installation work will cause some inconvenience but we will try and keep this to a minimum.

“We have been talking to the Canterbury Connected BID and will be in direct contact with businesses and residents in the very near future with detailed information on how the system will affect them.”

The city council’s engineers have been working closely with Kent County Council as the highway authority to secure the necessary permissions and agree a protocol for the bollards’ operation.

A total of 105 security bollards will be positioned at 18 locations around the city. Eight of these locations will have automated bollards that will be monitored by CCTV and can be remotely controlled by Canterbury City Council’s control room.

The cost of the project is estimated at £660,000. A number of counter terrorism measures are also being installed at the Marlowe Theatre at a cost of £140,000 as part of a separate project.

The council provided temporary security barriers for the Christmas Eve carol service in Rose Square.

Mr Carmichael said: “While we have sought financial support from the government and others, Canterbury City Council’s council taxpayers have footed the bill because, in our view, it was important to get this done as quickly as possible without any quibbles.

“Helpfully, Kent County Council waived its usual charges for making changes to its highways.”