City of York Council’s executive will press ahead with controversial metal bollards – the cost of which has soared to £3.5m.
The executive tonight (Thursday, 18 August) green lit the hostile vehicle mitigation measures (HMV) even though they won’t be in place this Christmas.
Instead work won’t start until the New Year, meaning York will have to pay another £72K for temporary security over the festive season.
Labour leader Cllr Claire Douglas called it a “breath-taking display of incompetence”. She said safety was important but so is value for money.
Council leader Cllr Keith Aspden said: “Through installing these permanent protection measures, the council’s duty and priority has to be the safety of everyone.”
He has also criticised the Government for not providing extra cash for the measures. He wants the council to lobby the Home Secretary for extra support.
The cost of installing controversial anti-terrorism measures in York city centre has spiralled to nearly £3.5m.
Installation of the bollards is set to begin in April 2023. The extra £1.75m required will be taken from the highways budget over the period 2023/24 – 2026/27.
Shaun Tunstall, a counter terrorism security advisor, said York had an “obvious vulnerability” to a terror attack using a vehicle, with the city’s many pavement cafe’s offering “ideal targets”.
In recent years, terrorists have used vehicles to carry out attacks in Nice, London and other cities. Such attacks require little planning or support and can often be carried out by ‘lone wolves’.
Mr Tunstall, who said his views were backed up by the UK’s top expert in the field, added: “The terrorist threat is becoming more unpredicatable…before we know it, something will happen.
“It’s a good move to get this sort of scheme in place.
“It’s something that is needed in York, more so than I’ve seen in most other cities that I’ve dealt with.”
Senior Commander for York, Superintendent Mark Khan, from North Yorkshire Police, added: “We have at times many people in a very small area, so that would make an attack far more successful for someone that would want to carry it out. There is less room for people to jump out of the way or escape from a vehicle.”
The government is also working on new legislation which will place requirements on councils and venues to protect busy footfall areas from the threat of terror attacks.
Earlier tonight in public participation, Disability Campaigner Flick Williams, argued that there were much better places to spend the money.
She told of her issues navigating potholes and complex junctions.
She accused the Lib Dems and Green run council of a “Dick Turpin” approach to council tax-payers money raiding the Highways Budget to pay for this and also excluding certain groups from the city centre.
A letter to the council from a counter-terror security adviser this month said the measures were “evidence based and proportionate to the current threat.”
Additional reporting: Joe Cooper, local democracy reporter