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BATH: Second secure zone

BATH: Second secure zone

A map released through a freedom of information request shows the outer zone that will be controlled by the police and the inner zone to be controlled by B&NES Council. Crown copyright.

Bath’s ring of steel could be followed by a far larger secure zone controlled by the police and covering much of the city centre. 

The proposals came to light after claims Conservative leader Vic Pritchard had confused two different measures to protect the city from a terrorist attack in a public statement.

In response, he said at no point had Bath and North East Somerset Council indicated there would be two separate anti-terror traffic regulation orders (ATTROs).

Speaking last week, Councillor Manda Rigby, the cabinet member for transport, said: “One ATTRO covers a wider city centre area and was recommended by the police as a mechanism for the protection of the city from a terrorist incident and for pre-planned events.

“This ATTRO would be in the control of the police.

“The other covers a smaller city area to be in place at all times to protect areas of high footfall administered by the council.”

Talks about the two ATTROs have been revealed in correspondence published by the council and through a Freedom of Information request to Avon and Somerset Police.

The first email shows then chief constable Andy Marsh initially contacted council chief executive Will Godfrey recommending controls for the wider zone in February last year.

A map released through the freedom of information request to Avon and Somerset Police reveals its possible extent, spanning from Marlborough Buildings to Pulteney Road.

CC Marsh explained: “An ATTRO enables traffic, which includes vehicle and/or pedestrians, to be regulated (the extreme of which would be to restrict access of a road) for preventative purposes in connection with counter terrorism.

“An order will supplement physical security measures in order to preclude vehicles and/or pedestrians from entering or proceeding along a road within the designated area.”

He recommended an ATTRO of a “permanent but contingency nature” covering the wider zone to allow police officers to restrict access to roads “to the extent they considered necessary, informed by security assessment or intelligence of a terrorist threat”.

He said that wherever possible, at least seven days’ notice would be given before the ATTRO is activated and that any restrictions should not be in place for longer than 48 hours without his prior approval.

Mr Godfrey replied to say the council welcomed the chief constable’s recommendation for an outer zone ATTRO, and also asked for his backing for one covering the inner core.

CC Marsh gave his support a week later, on March 4, saying the city centre was a “significant crowded site”, restrictions at peak times were proportionate and he would welcome any scheme that limited vehicular access.

Mr Godfrey then emailed last October – two weeks before the ring of steel consultation opened – to say the council’s focus was on the inner core but it would “continue to proceed with the outer ATTRO”.

CC Marsh replied asking the council to “act promptly should there be an increase in the threat level to critical”. Earlier this month the threat level was increased from “substantial” to “severe” – one level below “critical” – following the explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

The ring of steel, approved by cabinet members in July, will operate from 10am and 6pm and prevent most drivers entering, with blue badge holders among a few exceptions.

Access will be controlled by moveable barriers operated by officers in the council’s CCTV control room. It is not clear how the police would control access to the outer zone following a terrorist incident or during a pre-planned event.

Cllr Rigby said the measures needed a sequential approach and the second ATTRO was due to be considered in January after the council had seen the results of the latest ring of steel consultation.

Avon and Somerset Police has been approached for comment.

Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter

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