Is Blackpool at risk of terror attacks?

A one miute silence was held outside Blackpool Town Hall for victims of the Paris shootings
A one miute silence was held outside Blackpool Town Hall for victims of the Paris shootings
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The risk of a terrorism attack on Blackpool’s famous landmarks is being assessed on a regular basis.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn gave the assurance to councillors after they were presented with a report into the authority’s role in counter terrorism.

But he warned it would be wrong to over react following the recent attacks in Paris.

Coun Blackburn told a meeting of the council’s tourism, resources and economy scrutiny committee: “We are a very busy tourism resort, we have a number of iconic buildings and clearly the threat to those buildings is something assessed on a regular basis by our officers and the police.

“We had a meeting this week to review these arrangements in view of things that have happened.

“But what we don’t want to do is get things out of proportion and see threats when they are not really there.

“We can’t say it could never happen here, but we have to give it a sense of proportion.”

The committee was told the council’s key role in fighting the terror threat was through education in order to prevent people from becoming extremists.

Paolo Pertica, head of visitor services, said in July this year new statutory duties came into effect which require authorities including councils to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”

He said there were four strands to the strategy - pursue, prevent, protect and prepare.

Coun Blackburn told the committee he believed the way to fight international terrorism was through education.

He said: “When you look at the four strands within the counter terrorism strategy, the prevent strategy is where the solution lies.

“It does rely on education and that people are not radicalised in the first place.

“We can put up barriers and refuse to let anyone in, but that doesn’t deal with homegrown terrorism.”

But he also warned against the threat of terrorism being allowed to drive a wedge between people and being used asa way to damage community cohesion.

Coun Blackburn added: “In Blackpool one of the threats we face is from extreme right wing groups.

“There are groups of individuals who use incidents like this to advance their views.”

Blackpool is part of a county-wide ‘Channel Panel’ set up to protect people at risk of radicalisation.

Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, local authorities, police, prisons, young offender institutions, providers of probation services, schools, colleges, universities and NHS bodies must fulfill a number of duties.

These are to assess the risk of radicalisation in their area or institution, develop an action plan to reduce this risk, train staff to recognise radicalisation and extremism, work in partnership with other partners, establish referral mechanisms and refer people to Channel, and maintain records and reports to demonstrate compliance.