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Anti-terror plans for Canterbury branded 'over the top' by University of Kent professor

A terrorism expert believes a council’s £660,000 project to protect a city is an “overwhelming” strategy which will only enhance shoppers’ fears.

Last week, it was revealed how the authority is planning to install more than 100 bollards across the city centre in an attempt to thwart a vehicle from being used as a terrorist weapon.

On the advice of counter-terrorism police, the council believes it is taking “sensible precautions” to keep the public safe, however, Dr Frank Furedi has questioned the plans.

The University of Kent professor said: “I think the strategy is over the top - it is overwhelming.

“Putting a load of bollards up doesn’t make people feel more secure, they instead remind people of their anxieties.”

The 105 permanent bollards, which will be operational from 10am until 4pm, will be positioned at 18 points across the city, with eight of the spots being remotely controlled.

Dr Furedi believes there is a cheaper and simpler solution. He added: “If you are going to be taking measures to protect Canterbury, it needs to be much more intelligence and forensic focused.

Dr Frank Furedi
Dr Frank Furedi

“If there is intelligence to say the threat somewhere is on high alert, the best tactic is to put temporary bollards around specific locations such as the cathedral.

“I haven’t seen a proposal like this where there are so many bollards in a small area - the council needs to be more flexible.

“There are better ways of dealing with this, you’ve just got to get the balance right. It requires better policing rather than putting up permanent bollards which will not stop terrorists.”

In response to the claims council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: “We respect Dr Furedi’s academic background which is rooted in sociology.

Bollards are bound to be installed at the lower end of the high street
Bollards are bound to be installed at the lower end of the high street

“Our highly-skilled engineers are acting on the advice of experts in counter-terrorism policing.”

With authority engineers having already carried out ground-penetrating radar surveys, a consultation with residents and businesses will be held before installation work begins in the coming months.

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield has welcomed the news of the project, but says the council has been slow to get into gear.

“At long last these much-needed security measures are being installed,” she said.

“I first raised this with the leader of the city council in 2017, when I mentioned to him my concern about the delay.

Rosie Duffield has welcomed the plans
Rosie Duffield has welcomed the plans

“I’m delighted they’ve finally listened and are beginning to take the safety of the city, its residents and tourists seriously.”

A spokesman for Canterbury Cathedral, which last year blamed a slump in visitor numbers on terror attacks in Europe, said: “Cathedral security staff were involved in earlier discussions about the bollards and we would echo the comment from the council that we need to take sensible precautions to ensure we keep everyone as safe as possible.”

Business groups in the city have welcomed the additional security measures.

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