Security review across Blackpool as London death toll rises
Security is being reviewed across Blackpool after the terrorist attack in London, which Islamic State has now claimed responsibility for.
Against the backdrop of a Tower lit up in red, blue, and white, and the Union flag flying at half-mast from the town hall, top cops were looking at where officers are being deployed throughout the town as detectives in the capital continue to investigate Wednesday’s deadly attack, which claimed the lives of five people and injured 29 more, seven critically.
Town hall officials and police also moved to reassure residents there is nothing specific to suggest the resort has been targeted.
Staff at the Houndshill Shopping Centre were called to a routine meeting yesterday morning to make sure security procedures were up to date
“You have to make sure all your ducks are in a row. The days of just expecting certain incidents is gone,” manager Deb Lancelott said. “Who on Earth would have thought that one vehicle and a man with a knife could have closed down London? “It’s not something you would have expected a few years ago.
“The UK has been hit and we all feel awful.”
And staff at the Tower, which went dark on Wednesday evening in a display of solidarity with London, ‘continue to adhere to’ security measures, operator Merlin added.
Council leader Simon Blackburn, who chairs the Safer, Stronger Communities group for the Local Government Association, said: “There is no reason to think Blackpool is at any greater risk of attack than anywhere else, and I want to reassure people that we have very clear risk assessments and emergency plans in place, which are reviewed regularly.”
That message was echoed by Supt Damian Darcy from Lancashire Police, which said it was carrying out a security review across the county, and urged residents to report any suspicious activity.
He said: “We are now reviewing deployments across Lancashire but we would like to reassure residents that we do not believe there to be any specific threat to any area or location in the county.”
The terrorist who struck at the heart of Westminster, British-born Khalid Masood, 52, who was known to police, is likely to have timed his attack to coincide with the first anniversary of the Brussels bombings, Britain’s most senior European Union official Julian King said.
After ploughing a Hyundai 4x4 into a crowd of people, including schoolchildren, on Westminster Bridge, he rushed at the gates in front of the Houses of Parliament, stabbing PC Keith Palmer to death before being shot dead by other officers.
The gunfire was heard by Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden and Wyre MP Ben Wallace, who were kept inside on lock-down for several hours while a major emergency response got underway.
Mr Wallace, who is also a minister of state for security, later attended an emergency COBRA meeting chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.
He said: “When these incidents happen we stand back and let the professionals go on with their job, which is keeping us safe, following up on the incident and pursuing their investigations, getting to the bottom of the incident. The role of the government is to support with resources.
“We have the best intelligence service in the world, and the finest and best police who, right now, up and down the country, are not only investigating this incident but also making sure other incidents don’t happen.”
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said: “This appalling terror attack will not stop the workings of democracy in this country.
“My thoughts and prayers are with PC Keith Palmer, his family and his friends and his colleagues here on the parliamentary estate who are grieving right now, and those of the other victims. The attack was an attack on our democracy, but our democracy goes on.
“We mustn’t let these terrorists stand in the way of our democratic British values.
Meanwhile, crowds gathered at a solemn candlelit vigil as London paid tribute to the victims of the terror attack.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the thousands of people who responded to his personal invitation to come together in solidarity and sympathy at the Trafalgar Square vigil, that “those evil and twisted individuals who tried to destroy our shared way of life will never succeed and we condemn them”.
The number of dead was increased to five late last night: as well as Masood, PC Palmer, Aysha Frade, killed while walking to pick her children up from school, and American Kurt Cochran, a 75-year-old man had his life support turned off.
Scotland Yard said next of kin had been informed.