Major incident plan to protect crowds at events on Blackpool Prom like Air Show and Illuminations Switch-on

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National legislation means measures must be in place to protect large crowds

Action is being taken to protect large crowds on Blackpool seafront from the threat of an attack as council chiefs face tougher national legislation to ensure people are kept safe.

Counter-terrorism infrastructure is now in place on the Promenade, such as large barriers designed to stop unauthorised vehicles entering busy areas.

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Security barriers on Blackpool PromenadeSecurity barriers on Blackpool Promenade
Security barriers on Blackpool Promenade

A town-wide exercise, involving the emergency services, has been held to test procedures should there be a major incident, while the council’s tourism arm VisitBlackpool is seeking to recruit event-specific safety stewards.

Blackpool regularly attracts large crowds to outdoor events – with 350,000 people attending the Air Show over two days this year, and more than 50,000 estimated to have been at the Illuminations Switch-on.

A meeting of the council’s audit committee heard the council is working towards meeting the requirements of new national Protect Duty legislation which is due to come into force.

The Bill requires steps to be taken to reduce the risk – including from possible terrorist attacks – at all publicly accessible events and venues.

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Minutes from the audit committee say councillors were informed “the council had been undertaking work to prepare for the introduction of the legislation, including the installation of counter-terrorism infrastructure on the promenade.”

Chris Pope, events manager at VisitBlackpool, told the committee the legislation created a number of challenges for the council due to “the wide variety of events hosted in Blackpool many of which were held outdoors and involved substantial crowds with no fixed boundary.”

Preparations for the introduction of the legislation include joint working with partners across Blackpool under a five-year programme called Operation Rosetta 2.

Counter-terrorism procedures have been tested through a town-wide exercise which simulated a terrorist incident.

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The minutes add: “It was reported that although partners had performed well, key learning had been identified and would be applied in future.

“One of the most important outcomes had been the recognition of the challenges of communication during an incident.”

Councillors asked about the use of stewards for future events, with Mr Pope advising that currently events did not have event-specific stewards.

However, as required by the legislation, event-specific stewards with appropriate training and skills are to be obtained for future events.