Christmas '˜terror barriers' to be installed in Edinburgh
New anti-terror barriers are set to be installed in Edinburgh city centre for up to seven weeks over the festive season due to the vast numbers of visitors expected to flood in for its Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations.
Several sites around the New Town are expected to see the introduction of similar measures to those introduced in the Old Town in August.
Talks have already been held between event producers Underbelly, who are in charge of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations for the first time, police chiefs and city council officials.
Security was beefed up in Edinburgh in the summer in the wake of the terror attacks in London and Manchester.
A barrier system “designed to prevent hostile attacks on key or busy crowded locations” was introduced at Johnston Terrace. The Mound, St Giles’ Street and the Royal Mile.
Several significant changes are being made to expand Edinburgh’s Christmas event, which has already seen ticket sales grow by almost 50 per cent in the last three years.
Part of George Street will be closed off to traffic in the run-up to Christmas for a new “frozen museum”, while General Register House, at the junction of the Bridges and Princes Street, turned into a giant advent calendar after dark.
Other major attractions, including an open-air ice rink, the Star Flyer ride and festive markets will be returning to St Andrew Square The Mound and next to the Scott Monument.
Nearly four million people were thought to have visited key sites during last year’s winter festivals - up almost 25 per cent on the numbers going to the same events five years ago.
Underbelly director Charlie Wood said: “It is important to emphasis that the threat level is the same as it was this time last year. Security concerns are not new. But they are there and we take them extremely seriously.
“There are ongoing meetings with the police and the council to review all of our security arrangements. They are taken very seriously. The exact procedures for this year are still being discussed and agreed. Certain sites will require hostile vehicle mitigation measures.
“There is no new threat and no new intelligence specific to Edinburgh, but as the city is a big Christmas destination it is being talked about in detail.
“Security is our first and foremost concern. Decisions are being made, but obviously if the threat level changes then those plans may change. Everything is constantly under review.
“I thought the arrangements worked well in the Old Town in the summer. Our experience in Edinburgh and elsewhere in the UK is that people have reacted well to security barriers and are reassured by them.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “At this time the policing plan for Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay is being developed and officers are already working with the event organisers and the council to ensure that a safe and secure event is delivered this year.
“The policing plan for any major event is dynamic and dependent on the security picture at that time.”