Bath is being prepared for a possible terrorist attack at Christmas as councillors take urgent action to reassure shoppers and protect stores against losing a festive spending spree worth £20 million.
For the first time, large barriers and concrete bollards have been installed in Bath city centre for the Christmas market.
The anti-terror barriers have been erected to try prevent against an attack like the one at Christmas market in Berlin last year, in which a Isis-supporting Tunisian madman was shot dead after running down shoppers, killing 12 and injuring 56.
The move comes after over-stretched Avon & Somerset Police revealed that it was not confident of providing complete safety to the public in the event of a terrorist attack on Bath or Bristol.
More than 400,000 people are expected to visit the Bath market which runs from until 10 December 2017.
Bath and North East Somerset Council says the barriers alongside new and replacement bollards, installed over the last month, are designed to “restrict access for vehicles, and make it safer for pedestrians”.
The council stressed that it has no intelligence of a known threat to the city and the measures were designed to reassure the public.
Council Leader Tim Warren said: “These improvements are part of business as normal for the city. We are simply taking the prudent step of installing additional measures which are in common with those seen elsewhere in the country.
“There is currently no known threat to the city. We want people to feel reassured and to enjoy visiting our city this Christmas and throughout the coming year.”
Visit Bath chief executive David James added: “As organisers of the Bath Christmas Market, we work closely with partners to take all reasonable precautions to protect the safety and welfare of visitors attending the event.”
The Christmas market opened on Thursday. It is expected to bring around £20 million to the local economy.
Avon and Somerset Police recently revealed its fears of coping with a terror attack. The Force said: “The Constabulary is already operating to the limits of its capability to deliver the policing service local people have a right to expect and the threat of a terrorist attack locally would severely test the capacity and resilience of our officers and staff to respond as they would wish.
“The threat of a terrorist attack remains severe. We are witnessing a national and international surge in terrorist incidents and there is no intelligence to suggest we are coming to an end of this.
We see our capability, and the availability of specially trained officers to respond to such an incident, and neighbourhood officers to prevent such an incident, significantly reducing.
“In the aftermath of Manchester, Westminster, London Bridge and most recently Barcelona, the public have a heightened expectation of policing response that would be very difficult for us to deliver in significant provincial cities such as Bristol and Bath.”