Truck-stopping bollards have been installed around busy shopping areas of Leeds city centre to prevent a repeat of the terror attacks that left dozens dead in Berlin and Nice.
The bollards and other street furniture, such as giant plant pots, have been put in place in the city in recent weeks to stop vehicles entering pedestrianised areas such as Briggate and the new Victoria Gate shopping centre.
City council officials say there is “currently nothing to suggest any specific threat to Leeds” but that precautionary measures have been taken “in light of recent international events”.
Last year, two terror attacks on European cities highlighted the threat presented by heavy goods vehicles driving at speed into pedestrianised areas.
On December 19, a truck was deliberately driven into the Christmas market beside Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The terrorist attack left 12 people dead and 56 others injured.
And in July, a 19 tonne cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, killing 86 people and injuring 434.
Whilst there is currently nothing to suggest any specific threat to Leeds, as always our first priority is working with the police and partners to make sure the city is as safe and prepared as possible.Leeds city council
Professor Paul Rogers, a terrorism expert from the University of Bradford, told the BBC that there was currently a “high risk of attack”.
He said: “The experience in Germany, Nice and many other cases shows that one way in which you can carry out very nasty attacks is to use heavy vehicles.
“What we are now starting to see are degrees of protection which were really only only common in the centre of London, now being extended to cities like Manchester, London and Birmingham.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson declined to reveal the locations of the bollards and street furniture, but said they had been installed before Christmas.
He said: “Whilst there is currently nothing to suggest any specific threat to Leeds, as always our first priority is working with the police and partners to make sure the city is as safe and prepared as possible.
“In light of recent international events, and following guidance issued nationally, precautionary measures have been in place for some time to restrict vehicles from entering certain pedestrianised areas of the city centre.
“We’d also like to thank police for the professional and efficient way they responded to yesterday’s incident on Eastgate which was brought to a safe conclusion.”