Security measures to protect Peterborough’s historic Guildhall
The 450 year-old building in Cathedral Square has been at the heart of some of the biggest moments and celebrations in the city – but in recent months it has suffered from break-ins, with damage caused.
Now Peterborough City Council is set to spend more than £8,000 on security measures to keep people out - and safe.
The top floor of the building – which when built in 1671 is thought to have been a council chamber – houses mains electrical circuits which are used to power Christmas lights during the winter. The access to the top floor is via two spiral staircases found under the Guildhall.
Once inside the top floor, people are invisible to those standing outside the hall.
A Peterborough City Council spokeswoman said the new works were a vital health and safety measure, as well as a way to protect the building itself.
She said; “A planning application has been submitted to fit metal security screens to prevent people from climbing up the spiral staircases onto the first floor of the Guildhall, causing damage to doors, tampering with the mains electricity supply and starting fires and potentially causing injury to themselves.
“The metal screens would protect the structure of the Guild Hall itself, and also fulfil the council’s public safety responsibilities.”
The application was submitted after damage was noticed just before Christmas 2019, when the council were notified two doors had been forced.
Along with anti-social behaviour, evidence of rough sleeping was found.
Toby Wood from Peterborough Civic Society welcomed the security measures being installed – but said there should be a long term plan on how to use the Guildhall in the future.
He said: “In the current predicament, the most important thing is for the building to be secure. It’s an important and iconic building in the centre of Peterborough and it needs to be well looked after so that it doesn’t become damaged or vandalised.
“Unfortunately security measures may need to be taken, particularly in the short term. In the medium or longer term we would like to see the Guildhall used.
“There have been plans in the past to glaze the outside – this should not be impossible.”
The council spokeswoman added: “Anti-social behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated in Peterborough.
“We want our city centre to be a pleasant and attractive place for all to shop, visit and relax and will do all we can to ensure this is the case.”
The works, costing £8,300 plus VAT and a management fee, will see both external doors and frames replaced.
The current doors were installed in the 1970s and 80s.
Mild steel grilles, frames and access hatches will be installed at each of the landings.
Mesh will also be put in place to stop pigeons nesting.
No timescale has been set for when the works will begin.
Area being used as a toilet
Sliding doors installed at the rear of the Town Hall will stop people using a storage area as a toilet.
A planning application submitted by Peterborough City Council has been granted to allow them to install the doors by the yard, which is located near the rear of St Peters Arcade.
A Peterborough City Council spokeswoman said anti-social behaviour had been a problem in the area for months, and it was hoped the new measures would stop the issue.
She said: “Over the past six months it has been reported to us that a number of people are accessing a rear yard off Bridge Street and using the area to urinate and defecate.
“The sliding security gate would prevent this area from being used, and prevent the clear- up costs that the council has incurred because of this anti-social behaviour.”
Planning permission for the gate was granted earlier this month, although a start date for the work to install it has not yet been decided.
For more information about the gate, or the new security measures at the Guildhall, visit the planning section at www.peterborough.gov.uk