Witless council talking bollards over terror threat

Canterbury City Council is considering installing bollards as an anti-terror measure (stock image)

There are times when it looks as if Canterbury City Council is engaged in a competition with itself for the most unimaginative response possible to a problem.

This week’s contribution features some boring metal bollards, to be placed around the city centre as a supposed anti-terrorism measure.

Even if there was some sort of elevated threat to the security of pedestrians in the city, the sheer mundanity of the response tells you an awful lot about our council.

By way of contrast, visitors to London’s Covent Garden might not even be aware of the anti-vehicle barriers, since they are in the form of four wheeled market porter’s barrows, planted with flowers.

That’s an idea far more in keeping with the nature of the area than a job lot of shiny metal pillars, which seems to be what we’re about to get. Why is it necessary for such a thoughtless, indeed witless, design to be foisted upon this ancient – and very touristy – set of streets?

Of course, you might come to think there are other things wrong with the idea, and to question its timing. To begin with, there’s no obvious reason to roll this initiative out now – unless, of course, you were a bunch of councillors facing a tough election in a couple of months who feel the need to be seen to be doing something.

If there really is a threat – which I’m prepared to accept there might be – then it didn’t come into being in the last few weeks. So why the sudden need to install barriers? If the threat existed previously, then this looks like a solution being deployed rather late in the day, to say the least. Or, if there has been no change in the threat level, why exactly are we having these things plonked in the middle of our streets?

In any case, given the vast number of delivery vehicles which clutter up the High Street and St Peter’s Street every day, it hardly seems likely to be an effective solution. There are, quite clearly, no meaningful controls on vehicle access to the main shopping areas and absolutely zero enforcement of the rules of the road currently in place, including the “no entry” signs by the Westgate Towers, the restricted access into Burgate, or the time restrictions on deliveries.

All of that makes a mockery of the idea that erecting new barriers is likely to either deter or prevent anyone with a serious desire to do harm. So, as is often the case with this council, we are being offered – or more precisely, having imposed upon us – an expensive response to a problem which may not even exist, which manages to combine ineffectiveness with a lack of sensitivity in design. To have such eyesores installed at key entrances to the historic city centre is a betrayal of Canterbury’s heritage. It is also, sadly, unsurprising. This is, after all, a council which fails to adequately protect our World Heritage City from poor building design, excess traffic, intrusive signage, or to keep it clean and in good condition.

Having abdicated responsibility for anything beyond the essential minimum to the Business Improvement District, the council’s lack of leadership and responsibility has been laid clear for us all to see. As stewards of this historic and often beautiful city, we really ought to be demanding more from the local authority.

And bollards to anyone who disagrees!


  1. Canterbury city centre 10.15 this morning
    Vans and small lorries in abundance

    Enforcement conspicuous by its absence.Indeed I have never seen a vehicle driver or over exuberant cyclist challenged

    Today was wet and windy-quite bracing in fact

    On a hot still summer morning the noise ,fumes and the danger inherent in mixing pedestrians cyclists and large vehicles make the whole area quite unpleasant which is a real shame

  2. ….so, from a delivery driver who has worked in Canterbury for a few years, let’s listen to David and Dave shall we? Currently a courier – so not a large/one off delivery which would have to get a council permit, just a simple courier – will have perhaps 30-50 deliveries in the ‘CT1 2’ area, currently you are allowed to be on the High Street and environs until 10.30am (shock horror there were vans at 10.15am you know!!!), some shops open at 9am, some at 9.30am, some at 10am and there are even a couple that are later than that. You need to plan this route to hit people when they’re open and get everbody’s goods to them for the day’s trading, if you don’t, if you run out of time, they’re on to you, ‘where are my parcels’, as they should be, customers (that’s you, David) want the stuff they’ve ordered, or the goods they just simply want to buy. As it gets near 10.30, they’re looking for you, you get chased off, if you’re not by/close/in your van after 10.30 on there, you get a ticket. If you don’t see the enforcement officers, open your eyes. What do you do then David? Ban deliveries on the High Street? Make shops pay for extra staff to be in before 9am (more likely need to be 7am) just to take in deliveries? That reply was almost as ridicluous as the article itself, I can’t work out what ‘Dave Wilson’ is, my guess is he’s either a Green Party member that enjoys causing loads of extra congestion and emissions in Canterbury, whilst protesting about, well, emissions, or a Labour Party shill that is just anti anything that any other party wants to do, because, well, GLORIOUS LEADER JEREMY!!! Not sure. You’d think he’d have noticed that the proposed (I presume?) bollards in the photo go up and then go down again, then can go up again, and then go down again, and up again etc etc, to give access. I’d love to see the ground open up and swallow the Covent Garden Porter Barrows to give access, ‘James Bond’ stylee? THEY ARE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THING DAVE. Hope this helps. Wow.

  3. Thanks for the feedback Andrew.

    The point I was trying to make (none too well obviously) is that large groups of partially inattentive pedestrians ,delivery vehicles and speeding cyclists do not mix happily in such a confined space as the” High St.”

    It would seem that a number of towns and cities both in this country and especially on the continent have found imaginative solutions to the problem.

    I therefore ask bodies such as BID and the Sustainable Transport forum to have a good look at what is happening elsewhere and assess whether they are really as successful as is claimed and critically whether they are transferable to Canterbury.

    We should be working together to reduce the hassle rather than playing the blame game .

    As a customer who from time to time has a home delivery I am advised by the courier of one company ,at the start of the day the hour slot in which my goods will arrive.-and indeed they always have kept to the appointed hour .This is a tremendous benefit for customers and one that would have been unheard of say 10 years ago. So it does give me an inkling of the extremely tight schedules that delivery drivers have to plan and work to.

  4. Having a “Council” background I would be pretty certain that the Councillors haven’t just dreamt up an idea to spend money for the sake of it; almost certainly the anti-terrorist arm of the Police have been in talks and making recommendations. I recall being in meetings with them years ago about installing protective measures for the Cathedral; there was somewhat of a “creative tension” between the Police who wanted barriers that would stop a seven and a half ton truck with a bomb aboard and the planners and conservation officers who didn’t want unnecessary ugly metal barriers.

    The solution was rising bollards off Burgate and a big steel barrier at the Mint Yard Gate where archaeology prohibited rising bollards. Of course the deal was that the metalwork supporting the barrier would be clad in stone for aesthetic reasons …….. don’t bother looking, it was never added and we’re left with a ugly metal barrier.

    I never did work out how you would get a seven and a half ton truck with a bomb on it through the Mint Yard gate into the green and then through the Dark Entry to the Cathedral, but hey what did I know I was only a Town Planner.


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