Residents are being asked for their views on proposals to permanently strengthen and improve on-street security within Bath’s busiest streets and spaces by 2021.
Bath & North East Somerset Council and Avon & Somerset Police have been working together to ensure the city centre is safe, secure and welcoming for the people who live, work and visit here.
Since 2016, the council has maintained the city’s safety by putting in place various temporary security measures to provide protection from terrorism around Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths and Pump Room, as well as the retail core of the city centre.
In June, temporary vehicle access restriction measures were put in place from 10am to 6pm to enable social distancing as the government eased Covid-19 restrictions.
Prior to the pandemic, in conjunction with the police, proposals were already underway to permanently strengthen and improve city centre security and public safety in parts of the city centre by 2021.
The proposals set out a series of measures that will begin to replace existing concrete barriers with a series of static and moving bollards that aim to fit within the character of the city.
This is alongside restrictions that will permanently manage vehicle access 24 hours every day of the year within the most crowded parts of the city centre.
It proposes to place permanent static bollards on streets such as Burton Street and Old Bond Street, Barton Street, Westgate Buildings, Beau Street and Southgate Street.
Sliding bollards are proposed on York Street, Cheap Street, Upper Borough Walls, Lower Borough Walls and Hot Bath Street.
As is currently in place for social distancing from 10am to 6pm, access would be provided via the council’s CCTV control room for authorised vehicles only, such as emergency access, major construction or road workers, removal companies, and bank cash lorries.
To maintain safety through the night it will be necessary to maintain limited access restrictions from 6pm to 10am.
Access will need to be granted again by CCTV, for business deliveries, market traders and waste collection. Pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles will have access at all times.
Concern has already been raised about the further limitations the proposed changes will make for blue badge holders, who have already been affected by city-centre road closures and the removal of parking spaces for social distancing measures.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of the council, said: “With emergency temporary measures in place we are now working with businesses and the police on a coordinated package of permanent security improvements.
“The council is committed to enabling the on-going recovery of Bath, and the need for security and safety remains a significant factor in re-building Bath’s vitality.
“We appreciate how important vehicle access within the city is for our local businesses, residents and visitors, particularly people with restricted mobility.
“We also know that Covid-19 has had a big effect on the footfall within the city. However, the threat from terrorism within the UK is still significant.
“We’ve been working closely with Avon & Somerset Police to shape proportionate measures to improve security and safety within the city centre to an appropriate level we think will be a big factor in supporting the city’s recovery and future success.”
Andy Marsh, Chief Constable, Avon & Somerset Police, said: “While there is no specific intelligence relating to any threat to the South West region, including to Bath, we know there is a national threat to the United Kingdom from terrorism and that crowded places are attractive targets.
“Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by many hundreds of thousands of people every year and like with all the iconic places in the Avon and Somerset Police force area, we’re committed to working with our local authority and business partners to ensure both residents and tourists are safe.
“Our Counter Terrorism Security Advisors have been working with Bath and North East Somerset Council on ways to keep the city centre secure and protected and have given their support to a scheme which limits vehicle access during the busiest times.
“This is part of a package of measures that is designed to improve overall public safety and further strengthen protection in areas of high footfall.”
Residents can view the proposed city security improvements and provide feedback online until 15th January 2021 at www.bathnes.gov.uk/citycentresecurity.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the council has adapted its consultation to online methods, so you can see proposals and provide feedback on proposals safely.
The consultation period has also been extended to allow extra time over the festive period.
Allison Herbert, CEO, Bath Business Improvement District added: “We have seen great results from the new opportunities for outdoor seating in the city centre during the temporary road closures this summer.
“Bath achieved good footfall in comparison with other cities and the public appeared to enjoy the newly pedestrianised areas.
“This proposal for fixed safety barriers will make those changes permanent. Please make sure that you take this opportunity to share your feedback so that we achieve the best possible solutions by working together.”
Feedback will be used to inform potential refinements to the draft proposals, before the Council formally advertises the traffic regulation orders, which would enable the access restrictions to be enforced.
Information about this consultation is available on request in other languages, audio, Braille, large print or other formats.
To request another format, email [email protected] or call 01225 39 40 41.