Bomb alerts and travel chaos fail to deter West End revellers
Rupert Neate, Rachel Williams and Helen Pidd
Saturday June 30, 2007
Office workers, students and tourists were still enjoying a Friday night out in London only hours after the chance discovery of two bombs in the capital. Bars and clubs remained open and Ken Livingstone, the mayor, urged the capital's communities to work together to defeat the terrorism threat.
With two areas of the city off limits because of the bombs commuters struggled with difficult journeys home in scenes reminiscent of the bomb attacks of July 2005, but bars and restaurants remained busy.
While the normally bustling Haymarket near Piccadilly Circus, which had been shut since about 2am yesterday, was still closed as police searched the scene, drinkers were determined to carry on with their evening plans. Summer Wallbank, 29, an Australian living in Streatham, south London, was drinking in the Albannach bar on Cockspur Street.
"I didn't know one of the car bombs was on this street. But when you're out you're out. You can't stop me going out ... It does feel a bit weird out tonight though," she said.
In Leicester Square, near Haymarket, where the first device was discovered outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub, Joanne Moss, 35, said she was determined to carry on with her night out.
"We still come out for dinner. The bombs have not put us off." Asked if security fears were in the back of her mind, she added: "No, but they're probably in the back of my mum's mind."
Kristine Phillips, 20, a student from Western Australia visiting on holiday was also in Leicester Square. "I am a bit scared but it's not going to put me off. "
Bar owners said they would increase security but would open for business as usual.
Philip Matthews, chairman of the Westminster Licensees Association which represents about 1,000 bars, clubs and restaurants, said he expected venues to keep their doors open but to be extremely vigilant.
Extra police patrols were taking place across the city and officers from the clubs and vice unit were visiting licensed premises to give crime prevention and safety advice.
Tarique Ghaffur, the Met's assistant commissioner, said many of the measures being put in place around London were developed after the July 7 bombings, adding that it was common after such incidents for there to be an increase in the number of reports of suspicious vehicles and packages.
"What we have in London is a tried and tested system and procedures in place to deal with it," he said."Our overriding objective is to protect the scenes, put in place cordons and to make sure those particular areas are properly searched."
In his statement, Mr Livingstone said the dense network of CCTV coverage in central London would help the security services find clues.
"These events show that we have to be constantly vigilant, and also that we need to respond calmly," he said.
"As the police have made clear the help of the public is going to be essential to completing this investigation."
Terrorism threat to UK
UK resilience - Civil Contingencies Secretariat
Full text: the law lords' ruling on the detention of foreign terror suspects (December 2004)
Islamic Human Rights Commission
Liberty human rights organisation
Metropolitan police - counter terrorism section
Ministry of Defence
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