Five month road closure to complete Bath's 'ring of steel'

An artist's impression of the new sliding bollards on Lower Borough Walls -Credit:Bath and North East Somerset Council
An artist's impression of the new sliding bollards on Lower Borough Walls -Credit:Bath and North East Somerset Council

Another Bath street is set to close for sliding bollards to be installed to complete the city’s “ring of steel” anti-terror zone.

Work will begin on Lower Borough Walls in mid to late May and take an estimated five months to complete. Pedestrian and wheelchair access will be maintained throughout the works, but cyclists and permitted vehicles will be diverted via Hot Bath Street, where sliding bollards have already been installed. All disabled parking bays on the street will be unavailable throughout this period; those on Beau Street will remain available.

It is the final set of bollards to be installed as part of the city centre security scheme, dubbed the “ring of steel,” which aims to limit vehicle access to the centre of the city to prevent vehicle-based terror attacks in crowded tourist areas. The bollards close access to the city centre from 10am to 6pm but open for blue badge holders and other exemptions.

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Bath and North East Somerset Council said the scheme was being delivered “within the earmarked budget” of £7.4m — but that budget is more than triple the scheme’s original £2.2 price tag. Bollards have now been installed on York Street, Cheap Street, and Hot Bath Street and work is nearly complete on the set on Upper Borough Walls.

Council cabinet member for highways Manda Rigby said: “I’d like to thank businesses and residents for their patience. Our contractor VolkerHighways had to install the sliding bollards in challenging conditions because of the utilities and vaults under the street so it is great news that work will finish ahead of time on Upper Borough Walls and I am pleased to see the scheme is being delivered within the earmarked budget.

“The contractor is now moving onto the last leg of the scheme, which when it is finished will see the completion of a decision taken by the council’s cabinet to introduce a City Centre Security Scheme. As always, we will do all we can to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Residents and businesses are being invited to a drop-in information session on 9 May in the Brunswick (Braunschweig) Room in the Guildhall from 11am to 3.30pm. A “trial hole investigation” will begin on May 13 for approximately three weeks ahead of the main works.

Lower Borough Walls will be closed from its junction with Bilbury Lane, by Pigeon Park. Bilbury Lane will also be closed for a short duration at the beginning of the works so utility diversion works can be completed.

Sliding bollards were chosen to allow access to the city centre, as vaults and cellars under the street level made more traditional retractable bollards a problem. But there have been concerns over the bollards failing to work.

On December 23, ambulances were blocked from attending an incident in the city centre when one of the sliding bollards on Cheap Street failed to move. Ambulance crews left their vehicles and proceeded on foot. The council said it was investigating to ensure it did not happen again.