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NATO summit brings severe security measures to South Wales

Security measures put in place ahead of the imminent NATO summit taking place in Cardiff and Newport this week (4th-5th September) have caused issues for both residents and local businesses within the cities as a nine-foot high security fence dubbed the ‘ring of steel’ is proving to have a big impact on local trade and traffic.

Iconic Welsh venues to host NATO discussions

Cardiff Castle - NATO Summit fenceThe summit is the first of its kind to occur since Chicago in 2012, and will be the largest gathering of international leaders to have ever taken place in Britain. The fence is one of many security measures being put in place to protect the 67 world leaders expected to be in attendance. Over 9,000 police officers from across the UK are also expected to be on duty throughout the course of the conference in what has been considered the biggest policing operation of its kind in UK history.

Working dinners are to be held in several Cardiff venues such as Cardiff Castle and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, while the bulk of the formal discussions, addressing issues which threaten the national security of NATO countries, will take place in Newport’s Celtic Manor.

David Cameron has claimed that the summit will provide an ideal opportunity for Wales to advertise its “modernity and economically brilliant face to the world”, though the security measures have drawn criticism from those concerned about the impact the event could have in both host cities.

Local businesses suffer due to ‘Ring of Steel’

Cardiff city centre - NATO police patrolLikened to the Berlin Wall by critics on Twitter, the fence surrounds the Celtic Manor resort, encircles Cardiff Castle and is considered by a spokesman for the summit policing operation to be an appropriate security measure for the increased terrorism threats thought to be likely during the summit.

However, despite the fence’s necessity, small businesses with premises in the areas surrounding Cardiff Castle have found that their sales have suffered since its installation - which started on 7th August in Bute Park and 15th August on North Road, to be finished on 24th August. Many business owners claim to have lost up to 40% of business due to gates positioned within sections of the fence diverting pedestrians in general and tourists in particular away from the shops they may have otherwise visited. The fence is not expected to be completely dismantled until 12th September and traders are expecting to suffer the effects for at least a week following the summit.

Need to access Cardiff city centre during the NATO summit? Here’s some advice

Kingsway Cardiff - NATO barriersAlso expected to cause issues are the numerous yellow gates and barriers installed on main streets leading into the city centre, which will be used to form an outer cordon stopping vehicles entering sections of the centre on 4th September, limiting the potential threat of a car bomb.

Busy pedestrian streets such as Queen Street, St Mary’s Street and High Street are affected, with police monitoring movement in and out of each of these streets leading up to and during the summit. As a consequence, congestion is to be expected when entering the city centre on foot, and many storeowners are expecting a drastic loss in sales as shoppers are likely to stay away as advised.

 As well as affecting foot traffic within the city, the fence has already brought chaos to the commute of many driving in and out of the city, with lane closures affecting North Road, Boulevard De Nantes and Cowbridge Road East, all of which are heavily-used roads for those driving into and through the city centre. To avoid severe delays, alternative routes are recommended, such as circling Pontcanna Fields onto Colum Road in Cathays, or driving along Bute Terrace rather than entering town via St Mary’s street, although an increased number of train services have been scheduled as a result of a high volume of people avoiding the road system.

For more help to avoid lengthy delays, as well as information regarding school closures, visit the Cardiff Council website. For up-to-date information regarding the progress of the summit, visit the GOV.UK website or follow the @GOVUK Twitter account.

The decision to hold the upcoming NATO summit in Wales cements the country’s reputation as a place of emerging importance in both the UK and on a more global scale. As its exciting and ever-changing capital, there’s never been a better time to find a home in Cardiff as it continues to develop, so don’t hesitate to visit our website for a selection of properties to rent, or contact us directly and let us find the right property for you.

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