Several major city centre streets to be surrounded by a "ring of steel"

New anti-terrorism measures are to be installed around Leeds city centre following international attacks involving vehicles being driven into crowds.

It’s been announced that major streets including Briggate and Lands Lane will be fitted with bollards that can be raised and lowered by remote control as part of a “ring of steel” around the city centre, preventing access to unauthorised vehicles.

The new system will come in addition to existing counter terrorism devices currently in place, such as those massive plastic bins of soil on Briggate. “You will have noticed some huge planters in some locations.” says John Ebo, LCC’s head of city centre management. “They’re not just there for aesthetics - They are strategically located to create a chicane so you can’t just drive down.”

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"Strategically located" planters, Briggate Nightsky on Flickr.

Ignoring the generous implication that they’re of any aesthetic value, the practical effectiveness of these planters has been publicly brought into question in recent months, following two ram-raid attempts on Briggate’s Louis Vuitton store.

The move by Leeds City Council follows advice from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and West Yorkshire Police with the intention of stopping and potential attacks similar to incidents in cities including London, Charlottesville, and Barcelona, however they were keen to stress that it’s a response to global threats, rather than specific intelligence relating to Leeds specifically.

“While there is no information to suggest any specific threat to Leeds, we are continuing to work closely with the police and partners to ensure that precautionary measures are in place to ensure the city is as safe and prepared as possible.” said a Leeds City Council spokesman. “As part of this work, we will, over the coming months, be introducing automated rise/fall bollards around the pedestrianised shopping area of the city centre.”

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Other highly pedestrianised areas will be evaluated in the future

LCC added that ”An evaluation will also be undertaken on the potential of similar measures being introduced in selected other streets and areas of the city centre as appropriate.” referring to leisure hotspots with high pedestrian traffic such as Greek Street, Call Lane, and Merrion Street, and assured residents that “This type of initiative sits aside other proposals which we are currently assessing to further minimise risk and to provide to visitors, businesses and local residents, extra reassurance.”