Consultation plan for Bath "secure zone"
The public will have their say on plans for a secure zone covering much of Bath despite the council chief executive arguing the consultation is “unnecessary”.
A £2million contract to deliver the city centre’s so-called ring of steel is now being advertised but the original request from Avon and Somerset Police was for a much wider area.
Writing in February 2020, then chief constable Andy Marsh recommended an anti-terror traffic regulation order (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”.
Following a request from Bath and North East Somerset Council chief exec Will Godfrey, Mr March later supported an ATTRO focused on the city centre, recognising it is a “significant crowded site”.
The inner ring of steel is moving forward, although the plans for York Street will face a £60,000 public inquiry after Bath resident Hannah Downey upheld her objection.
Almost 200 people had responded to the consultation.
Correspondence released ahead of the inquiry from Mr Godfrey to Mr Crew’s successor as police chief, Sarah Crew, revealed that – after the inquiry had been triggered – he said a consultation on the wider zone “could be felt to be unnecessary” because it would only operate in limited circumstances or on police advice.
He said a consultation would “potentially be detrimental to the timely implementation of the scheme and the risks to security this would create”, adding: “I would seek your view on behalf of the members as to whether we enact the right to waive the requirement, in order for us to move forward as quickly as possible.”
CC Crew said police chiefs can waive the requirement to consult if it would undermine the ATTRO but that test was not passed.
“I do not believe that the circumstances surrounding the outer ATTRO meet the legislative provisions for not publicising the proposal, and a lack of publication would certainly not be in the spirit of the legislation,” she said.
“This is especially the case as the outer ATTRO proposals contain no permanent measures and are likely to be used on an infrequent basis.
“It is vital that we maintain the support and trust of our communities, and that is why, in the interests of transparency and accountability, I am advising that the council should not waive the requirement to publicise the outer ATTRO proposals.”
Mr Godfrey replied to agree it was vital to maintain the support and trust of the community and said officers would work with counter-terror security advisers to advertise the proposals.
A council spokesperson said: “We have and continue to work with Avon and Somerset Police on the safety and security of the city. We routinely seek their views on security matters, including on consultation and we are in agreement on the next steps for the outer ATTRO.”
The public inquiry will open on April 26, led by an inspector appointed by the Transport Secretary.
Written representations should be sent to City Centre Security Team, Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1JG. Objections, written representations and the council’s evidence will be available to view there or in the One Stop Shops in Bath, Midsomer Norton and Keynsham.
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