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Guildford Council Faces Dilemma Over Anti Terror Barriers In High Street

Published on: 4 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 5 Feb, 2019

Twitter exchange between Cllr James Walsh and Cllr Paul Spooner (February 21).

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) is facing a dilemma after security advice from Surrey Police has been questioned by councillors as a “blight on the aesthetics of the town” and “an unnecessary expenditure”.

A proposal to spend £260,000 on barriers to protect crowds in the High Street from a terror ramming attack was debated by the council’s Executive Advisory Board on Thursday, January 10.

The council’s Bid for Funding document noted that further work on the proposal will be required (see page 38 for the funding request details).

It will be considered in the provisional budget by the council at its meeting on February 26.

Cllr Matt Furniss.

Cllr Matt Furniss, deputy leader and lead councillor for infrastructure and governance for Guildford Borough Council, said: “We already implement additional security measures for events when appropriate.

“We will need to balance up the risks, following advice and working with Surrey counter-terror police, with the most effective measures to provide a safe environment to everyone who lives, works or visits our borough.”

The security advice from Surrey counter-terror police has been deemed as confidential by GBC.

The police and crime commissioner, David Munroe, said: “Advice has been sought from Surrey Police regarding this [anti-terror barriers] and it is now a matter for the council to decide upon in due course.”

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Cllr Reeves, leader of the Liberal Democrats at GBC, questioned the effectiveness of protective measures.

She said: “I think the High Street protection is an unnecessary expenditure as they will be got around by anyone if they are determined. I am concerned that putting up barriers is actually going to make people feel insecure as opposed to more secure.

“I know when we’ve had armed police in the town centre recently, the comments I’ve had is that it frightens people. It doesn’t reassure people.”

Cllr Tony Rooth

Cllr Tony Rooth, leader of the Independent Alliance, said: “We have to know what is being proposed before we make a decision.

“I remember seeing an article in the local press including some comments from an expert who questioned whether this was needed and whether security risks around Westminster would manifest in Guildford.”

Cllr Jenny Wicks, (Con, Clandon & Horsley), said: “We need more information on the proposals.

“It would be more than embarrassing if having said that we don’t need the precautions that a random attack happened.

Cllr Jenny Wicks

“These risks have to be assessed carefully.”

Other towns and cities, including Winchester, Worcester, London and Edinburgh, have already installed barriers following vehicle attacks in Nice, Berlin, Westminster and London Bridge.

There appears to be a wide variety of temporary and permanent designs available to the planners. These vary from visually intrusive concrete blocks to rising bollards designed to stop a 7.5-tonne truck travelling at 30mph.

The temporary protective barriers in Winchester in place in October 2018. They were to be replaced with permanent planting and seating in similar locations to the temporary barriers.

Winchester has had temporary concrete barriers for some time. The temporary barriers were to be replaced with planting and seating in November 2018 in similar locations to the temporary barriers.

Temporary barriers in Worcester’s Cathedral Square for the Christmas events.

Worcester City Council spent £32,000 on temporary barriers to protect people in Cathedral Square during Christmas events. The council’s managing director said: “Although we are not aware of any specific threats to Worcester, we are putting these barriers in as an extra precaution.”

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Responses to Guildford Council Faces Dilemma Over Anti Terror Barriers In High Street

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    February 4, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Please avoid at all costs.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    February 4, 2019 at 9:15 am

    They would never have worked during the IRA campaign I doubt they would work against ISIS.

    What the next threat around the corner will be is anyone’s guess but it is more likely to include drones, chemicals, biological weapons in addition to explosives than vehicle-related attack methods and barriers would be ineffective.

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 4, 2019 at 10:16 am

    What about a drone attack?

    Perhaps an anti-aircraft emplacement on the castle might help.

    Perhaps my comment is a bit flippant, but are we in danger of going into the realms of fantasy here?

  4. Wayne Smith Reply

    February 4, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Somehow, I doubt ‘Surrey Counter Terror Police” were ever going to recommend against having barriers, such is the risk-averse society that we’ve become, and where somebody always has to be at fault when things go wrong.

    Will GBC now go against the advice they’ve been given? I very much doubt it, however small the risk to the public may be.

  5. Gordon Bridger Reply

    February 4, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    A cost-effective solution at the entry and exit to the High street could be rising bollards. They would also be better than current gates

  6. Jules Cranwell Reply

    February 4, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    This is the stupidest idea I’ve read in a long while, even by the standards of this Executive. It is but another of their potty vanity projects, so they can crow that they’ve actually done something apart from taking jollies to Dongying, or spending their time schmoozing with developers.

    It would turn the city centre into an eyesore and drive tourists and the few remaining shoppers away.

    A guy with a rucksack could do as much damage as a truck, and could just skip around the barriers.

  7. John Perkins Reply

    February 5, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Some suggest it cost £300 billion and the deaths of perhaps a million people to build the Great Wall of China.

    Nobody can say how many were saved by its presence, but it’s generally thought not to have achieved much.

    Many a bureaucrat’s backside was covered, though.

  8. Jeff Hills Reply

    February 6, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I thought that the council had all ready spent all our money.

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