Slowly does it

The next phase of the Bath City Centre Security scheme is due to move forward in the New Year – but the implementation of pop-up security measures to help protect the central area from terrorists has slowed because of the pandemic, a public inquiry, and rising costs!

B&NES seems to be hoping that with new legislation imminent, the question of security will be shared with ‘private sector’ bodies – whatever that means – and the automatic barriers – rather than manned gates – can be phased in.

Let me remind you, these security measures have been brought in following a NaCTSO report, which identified the areas in and around Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths as crowded places, with recommendations to install hostile vehicle mitigations to reduce the risk of a vehicle-borne terrorist attack. 

Works on York Street are due to commence in January with the remaining streets being phased during 2023/24, subject to February budget setting.

The government is set to introduce new legislation, Protect Duty, in the management of publicly accessible locations (PALs), which requires a partnership between private and public sector bodies. By working together under the Protect Duty Local Authorities, counter-terrorism advisors, the police and the private sector will identify and manage emerging threats and improve PALs for the benefit of public safety and security.

The new ‘Protect Duty’ legislation is expected to become law in this session of parliament and the deadline to be compliant likely to be May to November 2023.

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, in consultation with Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources will be asked to agree that the York Street works can proceed and approve the additional funding and the appointment of Volker Highways as the contractor on the project.

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, said: “We’re not the only local authority faced with rising costs and shortage of resources as a result of Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine. Higher inflation and price increases have had an inevitable impact on all our cost forecasts. On this project specifically, the delay has been caused by Covid and the public inquiry and there have been cost inflation and supply shortages since this scheme was first agreed.

This means that implementing it will cost more money, hence this phased approach combined with looking for other sources of funding to finish the works. In the interim, we will continue to protect our residents, businesses, workers, and visitors via manually operated barriers on points other than the York Street automatic implementation.

“If we don’t invest in compliant security measures as soon as is practical, the council will be at risk of being negligent in its Duty of Care to protect Public Safety if an incident occurs.”

You can view progress updates on the installation project and check eligibility and apply for access to restricted Bath City Centre streets on the council website.