Move to stop terror threat in Cambridge’s King’s Parade
Counter-terrorism police have identified a “number of vulnerabilities to a potential attack” in King’s Parade in Cambridge as it emerges the city has taken “no proactive steps to protect visitors from the threat of terrorism”.
Councillors will look at ways to make it harder for vehicles to access the historic King’s parade in Cambridge after officers in the Counter Terrorism Unit identified “vulnerabilities” in the area.
While the CTU says the threat is “not specific to King’s Parade”, they say the threat “nationally, is real” and the police are encouraging local authorities to take action in areas where particularly large crowds gather.
Next week, Cambridge’s joint area committee will meet to consider urgent short-term measures to introduce further restriction on traffic movement in King’s Parade, Cambridge.
According to a report set to go before the committee, many other cities “have or are taking proactive steps to protect visitors from the threat of terrorism”, but notes that Cambridge (thus far) has not.
King’s Parade in Cambridge, the city street that is home to King’s College and its famous chapel, is a “prestigious globally recognised street” and an integral part of the historic city centre ‘core’ area. The number of visitors to Cambridge now exceed eight million a year, with a marked increase from five million over the last five years.
The main area of “urgent concern” is the length of King’s Parade between Senate House Hill and Bene’t Street. According to the report, visitors on foot also congregate in large numbers at the corner of King’s Parade with Bene’t Street and Trumpington Street while watching of the Corpus Clock.
The Police advice has been provided by the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), hosted by Bedfordshire Constabulary on behalf of the Eastern region forces.
The report says that, while the nature of the security threat means advice is confidential and not able to be shared publicly, the investigation identified “a number of existing vulnerabilities to a potential attack”.
According to the report: “The city very much welcomes visitors, and business, and wishes to take necessary steps to both ensure public safety and to provide a more pleasant experience for people moving around under their own means.
“To this end, Cambridge City Council requested the police assess the vehicular borne threat to Cambridge, and advise on how this might best be mitigated.”
The committee will hear the “principle and urgent recommendation emerging is the need to better control traffic access from the south along Trumpington Street”.
According to the report, this can be done by means of horizontal deflections or “chicane” style arrangements (these might be achieved through sensitive changes to on-street parking facilities) and a physical barrier north of Bene’t Street that would resist penetration by a vehicle approaching at speed.”
There are hopes initial safety measures could be in place in time for the spring/ summer 2019 peak period in street activity.
Discussions are also under way with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee chair and vice-chairperson.
An “Experimental Traffic Regulation Order” can be put in place, giving time for a consultation on the effect of the restrictions during the 6-18 month “trial” period.
Arrangements for cycle movement, deliveries and blue-badge holders along Kings Parade that would become restricted, or displaced, are under investigation.