ONE of the region’s main shopping streets is to have bollards installed at every entrance as part of measures to stop a terror attack.
In a £450,000 move, around 100 bollards will be installed on the entrances to Northumberland Street in Newcastle.
Security experts from MI5 travelled to the city to advise council bosses on the things they should introduce to make Northumberland Street less vulnerable to a terror strike.
But some local shopkeepers have branded the move “ridiculous” and “outrageous”.
A third of the cost will be met by a Government grant, and the project will be completed by March 2012.
Access to the popular shopping street will be heavily restricted, leaving vehicles with just one route in and one route out of the area. Drivers will have to book time slots if they need to carry out deliveries or maintenance work on the street.
Coun Nick Forbes, whose Westgate ward includes Northumberland Street, said: “It is important to point out that there is no specific threat to Northumberland Street, or Newcastle generally, but we live in uncertain times and unfortunately these kind of measures have to be taken in order to protect the public.
“I am sure we would all much rather we could rely on people to behave in the way we would expect but we have seen the devastation that can be caused by determined terrorists and it is important we take whatever steps are necessary to ensure this never happens in Newcastle.”
Exploratory digging as part of the first phase of the scheme is beginning this week and will focus on the bottom of Northumberland Street, where it joins Blackett Street.
Access to pedestrians and those using mobility scooters will not be affected and it is hoped the measures will also improve traffic flow, increase general public safety and reduce the wear and tear caused to the pavement each year by vehicles regularly passing over it.
Coun Wendy Taylor, the council’s executive member for environment, sustainability and transport, said: “These measures will improve public safety as the city centre becomes busier with extended shopping hours at Eldon Square and ensure that only vehicles on legitimate business are allowed access to Northumberland Street.”
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) is working with police forces and councils across the country to protect areas identified as crowded places. Earlier this year, it produced a report advising how such locations can be made safer.
It said: “The UK faces a real threat from terrorism and crowded places remain an attractive target.”
The city council has taken guidance from Northumbria Police and NaCTSO on the risk that could be posed to Northumberland Street, which has led to the plans for the new safety measures being created.
Currently, vehicles can drive on to Northumberland Street from a number of different side-roads at any time outside the hours of 9.30am-5.30pm.
The new strategy would see a permanent, 24-hour restriction period introduced, preventing cars and vans from accessing the shopping street without a prior arrangement.
Between 95-110 bollards will be installed on Northumberland Street itself and surrounding access roads, including Brunswick Place, Lisle Street, Saville Row, Northumberland Road, Ridley Place, John Dobson street and Newbridge Street West.
The only street from which vehicles will be allowed to drive onto Northumberland Street will be Northumberland Road, while the only exit point will be at the bottom of the main stretch, where they will be able to join either Pilgrim Street or New Bridge Street West.
The bollards are strong enough to stop a 7.5 tonne vehicle travelling at 50mph in its tracks.