Public inquiry over part of anti-terrorism scheme

York Street – library shot

Proposals for anti-terrorism security measures – which will restrict vehicles in some Bath city centre streets – has now triggered a public inquiry.

Although the plans are moving ahead – with access measures for Blue Badge holders also put in place – the council will organise a public inquiry for one street in the scheme after a member of the public upheld their objections to the proposed traffic regulation order for anti-terrorism purposes in York Street, despite work to mitigate concerns.

Bath & North East Somerset Council intend introducing what they call proportionate, preventative measures to protect public safety – based on police advice – following extensive consultations and talks with businesses, residents and accessibility groups.

However, a public inquiry is held when an objection remains to the Traffic Regulation Order and agreement cannot be found. It is anticipated the inquiry will be held in the spring.

Plans for the other roads in the council’s city centre security scheme will go ahead and the Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Orders will be published next week for:

  • Lower Borough Walls, Stall Street, Abbeygate Street, Abbey Green, Swallow Street (south), Bath Street, Beau Street, and Hot Bath Street;
  • Cheap Street, Westgate Street (including Parsonage Lane), Saw Close and Upper Borough Walls.

Access for both blue badge holders driving into the security zone, along with those blue badge holders wishing to gain access via taxis or carers, will start from 1 January 2022.  Details of how access can be gained, will be announced shortly.

The decision to proceed with the public security measures follows months of extensive consultation, talks with disability access groups and meetings with businesses and residents. 

While the York Street traffic regulation order for anti-terrorism purposes will be the subject of a Public Inquiry, the road will temporarily close under a separate Temporary Traffic Regulation Order to allow public realm works to be carried out as part of the work on the World Heritage Centre scheme. This is anticipated to start in the New Year and complete in the spring.

The works, which are essential to the long-term maintenance of York Street, were initially scheduled to be delivered alongside the works in Swallow Street during summer 2021.  The York Street section was delayed in order to minimise the impact on local businesses during both the busy summer months and Christmas trading period.

Cllr Manda Rigby, B&NES Cabinet member for Transport

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, said: “I am very pleased that we that we are moving ahead with the scheme and want to thank everyone for their input to make it better for accessibility while retaining security which is the sole purpose of these proportionate measures.

Despite much work to mitigate issues in York Street for an objector, we will have to take this small element of the scheme to a public inquiryCalling a public inquiry is the final stage in the legal process when agreement cannot be reached on a traffic regulation order to close roads. In this case on objector is upholding their rights and we have to respect this.

“However, we don’t want this process to delay the scheme, which has proportionate, preventative measures to protect public safety, based on police advice. This is why  we are pressing ahead with the other ATTROs to install hostile vehicle mitigation measures. These are protective measures to reduce risks associated with vehicle-borne threats posed by terrorists and criminals.” 

The security proposals include vehicle access restrictions on streets defined as crowded places in and around Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths while maintaining managed access to the city centre for residents, businesses and blue badge holders.

They were initially based on a counter-terrorism security survey on Bath city centre in September 2016 which identified the areas as being vulnerable to a potential hostile vehicle attack.

In February 2020 Avon & Somerset Police Chief Constable asked Bath & North East Somerset Council to consider an ATTRO covering the wider city centre of Bath which would be used in the event of a heightened threat, specific intelligence, as a result of an incident or if there are events taking place that create crowded places.

Following consultation with Counter Terrorism security advisors and the council, which centred around the crowded places indicated within the National Counter Terrorism Security Office report, it was considered proportionate to introduce permanent restrictions covering a smaller area in the city centre resulting in the current measures, which the Chief Constable supported.

The council has continued to work alongside the Counter-Terrorism advisors to protect these areas, through both physical measures and training for front line staff, both from public and private sector.

Councillor Rigby said: “I want to stress that at all stages of this scheme we have listened and acted to make sure residents, businesses and people with accessibility issues have had their say on this set of traffic orders. We have acted on feedback in the first consultation and amended the scheme accordingly. Subsequently, we have held focus groups for, visited businesses, and talked to objectors and people with disabilities to reassure them about the scheme.”

Blue badge parking spaces will not be affected and the council will work with community and disability groups to further inform the final design of the scheme.

Under the scheme Blue badge holders are permitted to park on Cheap Street, Westgate Street and Upper Borough Walls on double yellow lines for a period of three hours, subject to space being available, via controlled access.

As part of the scheme additional seating would be provided along Cheap Street and Westgate Street to ensure adequate resting space. The proposed fully accessible ‘Parklets’ would be interspersed with existing street furniture as close to 50m intervals as possible.  

Dropped kerbs and footway surface improvements would also be introduced to allow improved accessibility from existing city centre car parks and proposed additional Blue Badge bays.

For your further information:

The scheme:    

  • Cheap Street, Westgate Street, Saw Close and Upper Borough Walls: vehicle access restrictions from 10am to 6pm, with controlled access permitted for Blue Badge holders and carers, or taxis carrying Blue Badge holders as a passenger.
  • Lower Borough Walls, Stall Street, Abbeygate St, Abbey Green, Swallow Street (south), Bath Street, and Hot Bath Street; vehicle access restrictions from 10am- 6pm
  •  York Street: extend restricted access operating hours to 10am to 10pm, to support the increased footfall which is anticipated from Terrace Walk to the new Clore Learning and World Heritage Centres.
  • Extra Blue Badge and resident permit parking and loading spaces nearby, but outside of the restricted area.

To implement or enforce parking restrictions of any kind on a public road, a Traffic Regulation Order first needs to be introduced. The city centre security scheme proposed uses a combination of TROs and Traffic Regulation Orders for anti-terrorism purposes.  

The proposed orders were amended from the proposals first laid out by the council after listening to feedback from residents in its previous consultation, which ran from November 2020 to January 2021. They have also been informed by an independent Accessibility Study.

4 Comments

  1. The measures aren’t proportionate in either the design or the degree of protection offered from a terrorist attack. Most successful attacks have not and do not involve vehicles. I really don’t know which ‘reality’ B&NES is thinking of. What we need are not bollards but Bobbies.

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      1. How will “fewer b……. cars in the city centre” help reduce the terrorist threat?
        I imagine most of Bath’s terrorists will arrive by train, pick up an eScooter, do their dastardly work and depart on mass transport tram, bus, eco-taxi. Some may convey their explosives in the frame tubing of a bicycle or cargo-bike rather than a bulky vest.
        The Council is unwittingly playing into the hands of any wannabe Jihadist – not smart.

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  2. Actually terrorism isn’t given as a reason for the York Street TRO. It’s only used for the other two. The York Street TRO proposal is “to support the increased footfall which is anticipated from Terrace Walk to the new Clore Learning Centre and World Heritage Centres”.

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