Since their announcement York’s anti-terrorism bollards have been met with controversy.

In April the then Liberal Democrat-Green City of York Council revealed that the £3.5 million permanent protection measures would be installed across the city to protect against ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’.

The council said it was following advice from Counter Terrorism Police.

Detective superintendent Dan Patrick, regional head of protect and prepare at Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said York was “not exempt” from the threat of terrorism which remained “very real”.

York Press: New bollards in place in Minster GatesNew bollards in place in Minster Gates (Image: Dylan Connell)

The Press published the announcement at the time and it was met with over 100 comments reacting to the news.

Some commenters said the bollards would be an improvement on large black metal barriers previous installed in the city during the Christmas period.

Others hit out at the announcement and, despite the Counter Terrorism Police advice, questioned whether they were needed.

The first of the sliding bollards were installed in Lendal and High Petergate.

During the work the streets were originally due to be closed for around six weeks.

But the work overran. Lendal was closed for an additional two weeks while High Petergate was closed for an extra week.

York Press: Mannetti's café in Lendal during the work to install the bollardsMannetti's café in Lendal during the work to install the bollards (Image: Dylan Connell)

During the closure in Lendal, Mannetti’s café experienced a drop in trade. 

The café’s director Marie Milburn told The Press the ongoing work had put customers off visiting and, as a result, she feared the business would go under.

She also claimed the business was not given enough notice about the closure from the council.

In its final stages, the work saw fencing installed around the doorway of Mannetti’s.

Ms Milburn said this had an even worse effect on trade.

The café decided to close for just under two weeks until the work was finished rather than risk staying open and losing money.

York Press: The work outside Mannetti's The work outside Mannetti's (Image: Dylan Connell)

Business elsewhere in the city also faced problems when bollards were being installed.

While the measures were being installed outside Boyes department store in Goodramgate traders nearby criticised the work and – like Mannetti’s – said they were not given enough from the council about it.

York Press: Knutti Store owners Anthony Lewis and Jonathan Burgoyne raised concern over the work in GoodramgateKnutti Store owners Anthony Lewis and Jonathan Burgoyne raised concern over the work in Goodramgate (Image: Dylan Connell)

This was also the case in Shambles and Colliergate.

City of York Council apologised to the businesses over the disruption. 

Work on the bollards was put on pause over the Christmas period by the council. 

Temporary black metal barriers – like those used in previous years – were installed in areas where sliding bollards were not yet in operation.

Looking ahead to 2024

James Gilchrist, the council’s director of transport, environment and planning, said installing the bollards is “just one phase of this complex work to help protect the city centre”. 

In 2024 he said bollards will be installed in Blake Street and Parliament Street.

“Following this and subject to continued work to connect the new bollards to power, telecoms and CCTV, all barriers should be fully operational during spring 2024,” Mr Gilchrist said.

He doubled down on the council’s pledge to reopen the city centre to blue badge holders in 2024.

“From January 4, access to the city centre for blue badge holders from 10.30am-5pm will be via the sliding bollards at Goodramgate,” Mr Gilchrist said.  

“Access remains open to blue badge holders at all other times. From Easter 2024, access will also open via the sliding bollards on Blake Street.”