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Bollards, barges and gates to protect sections of Walsall town centre against 'hostile vehicles'

Bollards, barges and gates will be installed in parts of Walsall town centre to help protect visitors and businesses from 'hostile vehicles', it has been announced.

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Park Street in Walsall town centre. Photo: Google

The 'temporary hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) measures' are to be installed overnight next Monday and Tuesday, starting each night at 7.30pm.

Walsall Council has been working with West Midlands Police and Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands to consider vulnerabilities in the town centre.

Martyn’s Law, also known as the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) draft bill, will seek to ensure stronger protection against terrorism in public spaces, and place new duties on local authorities with regard to addressing the threat of terrorism and implementing appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.

Councillor Garry Perry, portfolio holder for resilient communities at Walsall Council, said: “The terror threat in Walsall is low but real, and I fully support this action to secure the town centre.

"Community safety must always be a priority and anything that mitigates any potential threats posed by vehicles is to be welcomed.”

The measures are expected to be temporary and will be replaced with 'permanent, less intrusive measures' as part of the ongoing regeneration of the town centre, the council said.

More aesthetically pleasing protection is already being designed into the regeneration schemes planned for Park Street and Gallery Square.

The measures, which include bollards, barges and gates, will secure large sections of Park Street, Bradford Street, The Bridge and Digbeth Square.

Access to businesses and the market will be unaffected during those times when it is permitted by the traffic regulation order – Monday to Saturday, 5pm to 10am, and all-day Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby, from West Midlands Police, said: “The installation of new HVM measures in Walsall is not due to any increased threat to the town centre, however the overall threat to the UK from terrorism remains substantial.

"This is a good opportunity for us to follow advice from expert colleagues in our counter-terrorism unit, and work with Walsall Council to ensure that the town centre is safe and secure for residents and visitors.”

The council is funding the temporary hostile vehicle mitigation measures and maintenance costs with income generated by parking charges.

This income is primarily spent on the delivery of parking services, but surplus income can be invested in 'essential' transport projects such as this.