Edinburgh's anti-terrorism barriers could be rolled out to George Street and outside theatres

Crowded George Street during festive events. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Crowded George Street during festive events. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
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Anti-terrorism security barriers could be installed at vulnerable sites across the Capital - amid fears that tightly-congested areas between road blocks could become more of a target.

The city council will draw up costed plans to roll out permanent or semi-permanent barriers at six current high priority locations - as well as investigate further barriers across the city, potentially including George Street, George Square, Cowgate and theatres.

The security barriers on the High Street, Royal Mile

The security barriers on the High Street, Royal Mile

The six current barriers are temporary structures and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), run by the Home Office, has told council officials they "cannot be considered as a long-term solution".

Officials want to strike a balance between public safety and more attractive barriers.

Cllr Donald Wilson, culture and communities convener, said: “As a capital city and a major destination for festivals and events, appropriate measures are put in place every year to ensure the security of our crowded places. As visitors are attracted to the city it is essential we ensure they enjoy safe environments and we were the first council to work with local police to devise and develop our own protection system.

READ MORE: Tourist Tax: Edinburgh tourists could be charged for walking on Royal Mile
“This is always reviewed to ensure it is fit for purpose and as part of our exciting plans for transforming the city centre we will look at further key sites which could benefit from increased protection measures. Where possible we will consider a high design standard in keeping with the historic environment and try to ensure any measures are temporary so they are in place only when and where required."

Proposals for secondary priority areas such as George Street and Cowgate that "occasionally become crowded places for events" will also be moved forward, ahead of "very occasional" locations including the EICC and Edinburgh Playhouse.

Conservative Cllr Phil Doggart highlighted concerns that a large volume of people between barriers could cause a public safety problem.

He said: "Looking at the structure, the barriers are there to stop one type of an attack. If an attack is planned, I'm guessing the perpetrator would use a different form of attack to take life.

"My concern is we have now got a huge concentration of people. If someone is going to engage in an attack, they will work out the most affective way of succeeding in their attack. It could make a different type of attack worse."

The council's public safety manager, John McNeill, said the barriers are to stop "vehicles being used as a weapon" and could also be used for "large buildings in the city centre that have large amount of people gathering around them, like theatres".

He added: "The national barrier asset will not be removed until higher priority is found or we replace that asset.

READ MORE: ‘Cutting edge’ anti-terror barriers to be erected in Capital
"What we will be putting in is constructed bollards on the footways. We will not have a gate closed when they are not manned - there will always be somebody beside a closed gate."

Liberal Democrat culture spokesperson, Cllr Hal Osler, called for better management of the security barriers - particularly for people with mobility issues.

She said: "One of the biggest issues we have during the summer months is there's no in-out or no understanding of how they work.

"There's a real problem with the numbers and people blocking access through. There was a deep concern from those with accessibility needs or buggies who can't get through - we need to manage them a little bit better."