UNSIGHTLY concrete blocks that line city streets and hot spots are fast becoming a familiar sight in major Australian cities as part of a move to stop terrorists from ploughing vehicles into pedestrians.
Concrete barricades are currently being installed in Sydney’s Martin Place, where the deadly Lindt Cafe siege took place, to prevent a London or Nice inspired terror attack.
A City of Sydney spokesman told news.com.au the council was currently installing concrete barricades in Martin Place, between Phillip and Elizabeth Streets, as part of ongoing work “to review and strengthen security in public places”.
“The City of Sydney takes advice from NSW Police and state emergency services on issues of public safety, including the installation of bollards and barricades to block vehicle access in response to security concerns,” the spokesman said.
The introduction of the bollards is not response to any specific threat, according to the council.
“Barricades or bollards will be rolled out to other stages in Martin Place over the coming weeks after further consultation with NSW Police and emergency services,” the spokesperson said.
“The City is continuing to work with NSW Police on reviewing public places of mass gathering, on City of Sydney land, to determine if additional bollards or barricades are required.”
There are currently over 2,500 bollards on City of Sydney controlled land but not all were introduced as anti terror measures. The cost for the supply and installation of a bollard can vary depending on the use between $1,000 and $5,000, according to the council.
A Property NSW spokesman told news.com.au it has also introduced anti-terror security measures “to restrict vehicle access at Darling Harbour and The Rocks, including enhanced security measures at three access points at Iron Wharf Place, Moriarty Walk and Zollner Circuit”.
“Under the NSW Counter Terrorism Plan, police support the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, providing guidance on appropriate risk based security measures to counter threats from terrorism,” the spokesman said.
“All security arrangements are made in consultation with NSW Police.”
It comes after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for bollards to be placed in busy pedestrian areas nationwide following the deadly Bourke Street rampage in Melbourne earlier this year.
Some international security agencies and counter-terrorism experts have also recommended improving security following terror attacks by erecting concrete bollards.
It appears several state governments have heeded the advice as they rollout anti-terror measures designed to prevent a terror attack similar to those in London or Nice.
In England, armed soldiers now stand guard on the streets of London for the first time since 2003, guarding Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and Westminster. While there are no plans for armed guards to patrol city streets in Australia, one local who spoke to news.com.au, said it seemed like the “natural next step”.
A security expert told news.com.au that “bollards alone” will never been enough to prevent opportunistic terror attacks. But supporters of the initiatives say bollards, despite being visually unappealing, do offer tighter security in densely populated public areas.
Other Australian cities on their way to becoming what some critics have described as “fortresses” include Melbourne, Adelaide and the Gold Coast. And there are plans for many more to come.
Melburnians woke up to more than 100 new bollards lined outside public areas including Southern Cross station, Southbank Boulevard and other key locations this morning.
“At the request of the State Government and Victoria Police, the City of Melbourne has placed additional protective blocks at key pedestrian locations in the city,” a statement from a City of Melbourne spokesman read.
“Around 140 temporary concrete protective blocks have been placed at eight locations.
“The concrete barriers will provide greater security to people visiting and gathering in the city.”
But critics have labelled the measures “ugly” and expressed concern over potential impacts on livability quality and tourism.
One Melbourne resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the blocks as “eyesores”.
“It’s only one step away from armed guards with machine guns and night curfews for residents,” he told news.com.au.
“Safety is important but so is keeping the place attractive for locals and tourists to want to live and visit. There’s got to be a better way to do it.”
The newest bollards at eight key Melbourne locations are in addition to 66 already installed on June 10 in the Bourke St Mall and at Federation Square.
The first ones were installed after the fatal Bourke Street rampage in which a car mowed through crowds in the mall, killing six people, including a 10-year-old girl, in January this year.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the terror attacks in Nice and France had inspired work around making Melbourne safer.
“There is a balance to be struck here in keeping the city functional and doing everything we can to make attacks, events, crimes, evil like what we saw (on Bourke St) much harder (to commit),” he said when announcing the initiative earlier this month.
“There’s no time to be wasted here. The threat of terror ‒ the threat of hostile vehicle attacks, the threats to public safety ‒ are all too real.
“We weren’t going to wait around for six months or 12 months while planter boxes are built so they look better.”
Police Minister Lisa Neville said the government had to act quickly and the current concrete blocks were only temporary.
“These are temporary, these are not what people will have to put up with forever,” she told radio station 3AW.
“This has been in response to international incidents and we just thought ‘we can’t wait’.
“It would be great if we didn’t need to have this, it does change the nature of our city a little bit.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has previously said bollards have the potential to make a city look like a fortress.
“It’s not my preference to have ‘fortress Melbourne’,” Mr Doyle said last month.
Mr Doyle today told news.com.au that council was “moving towards permanent measures” after responding to requests from police with temporary protective blocks.
“We’ll look first at street furniture, planter boxes and rubbish bins, which can be reinforced and turned into unobtrusive but effective safety measures,” he said.
“Then we’ll look at versions of the green “heritage” style bollards that you can see near Flinders Street Station and towards Princes Bridge.
“After that, we’ll look at fixed bollards and retractable bollards. We’ll take advice from the police on their placement.
“I recently travelled to Chicago where they’ve used flower beds along the footpaths, surrounded by bluestone, as a form of bollard.
“What looks like a very attractive street treatment is in fact an effective safety measure. We’re looking at this approach.”
Sixteen anti-terrorist pop-up bollards on the Esplanade in Surfers Paradise will be all that stands in between an out-of-control vehicle and pedestrians.
The Gold Coast City Council is spending $500,000 to install the bollards across the Esplanade to help protect pedestrians from terrorists who use trucks and large vehicles to plough into pedestrians, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the bollards were so strong they could stop a high speed truck and still retract and pop-up for the next event.
The retractable heavy-duty pillars will be put up during major events in Surfers Paradise and in emergency situations.
Police and council workers will control when the bollards are in use.
The bollards will be placed on the Esplanade by the end of the year.
Adelaide’s Rundle Mall has had permanent bollards in place to increase security since early this year.
“Places need to be safe and they also need to be seen to be safe. There’s a perception and reality thing we need to manage,” Lord Mayor Martin Haese told ABC radio in January.
Mr Haese said Rundle Mall is the city’s main retail area and a key public space.
The bollards are placed at either end of the mall and were designed to allow traders access in vehicles at different times.
Mr Haese said the council was continuing to work with the state government to ensure the safety of public events across the city.
“We recognise, quite unfortunately, that we’re probably operating in a somewhat different environment than what we were a few years ago,” he said.
“That’s a little bit sad in itself but it might be a reality.”