Measures to safe-guard Christmas shoppers have been ramped up in Leeds with the installation of gates to stop unauthorised vehicles accessing pedestrianised parts of the city centre.
Seven gates have been installed as temporary measures at the top of Briggate, Kirkgate and Central Road, Albion Street, Lower Albion Street, Bottom of Briggate, Lands Lane and King Edward Street.
The gates are closed from 10.30am to 7pm and will be opened manually by city centre staff for pre-approved legitimate access such as deliveries and emergency services.
Leeds City Council says the move is not in reaction to particular security threats over Leeds but conceded that recent terror events were a factor.
Coun Richard Lewis, member for regeneration, transport and planning said: “I would be dishonest if I said it wasn’t. It is not about a specific threat but general concern.
“We are talking about a quarter or a third of a million people in the city centre on certain days and we just felt putting the gates to use now in the pre Christmas period would give reassurance to the public.
“The gates will add an additional layer of enforcement and safety to restrictions already in place in the city centre, and mean that during busy shopping periods no unauthorised vehicles will be able to access certain pedestrianised areas unless permission is given.”
A review of the gates will be undertaken by Leeds City Council and the police in the new year and permanent bollards in the city centre will also be implemented in 2018 after already being approved by the authority.
Details of increased city centre security measures were first revealed earlier this year at a meeting of the city council’s Licensing Committee when the issue of security was raised.
Dubbed the “ring of steel”, the remote controlled bollards- (which will replace the temporary gates - are in the wake of international terror attacks involving vehicles driving into crowds.
Ram-raiders were twice able to drive onto Briggate in April to target retailer Louis Vuitton. The council has taken advice from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and West Yorkshire Police, but stressed this was in response to global threats and not Leeds itself.