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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 13:09 GMT
Police warn of conference chaos
Sage Gateshead
The Sage Gateshead will host most the conference
Commuters and businesses on Tyneside face massive disruption during the Labour Party's spring conference.

More than 1,000 officers will effectively seal off an area around the Sage Gateshead and nearby Hilton hotel.

Roads will be closed, random searches carried out and even a special footbridge constructed for the duration of the three-day event in February.

Northumbria Police say they have no specific intelligence to suggest the event will be a target for terrorists.

A raft of security measures are being introduced during the conference, which starts on 11 February.

Tyne Bridge

They include a temporary footbridge installed between The Sage Gateshead and the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel to allow delegates ease of access between the venues.

Search channels, operated by Group 4 Total Security, will be in place involving searches and pass checks.

A number of traffic restrictions and road closures will also be in operation, including banning foot passengers from the Tyne Bridge.

Prime Minister Tony Blair
Labour's spring conference takes place in February

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "Playing host to government ministers in the current international climate necessarily involves tight security.

"But Northumbria Police and the local authorities of Gateshead and Newcastle are working hard to balance the necessary security requirements with the needs of residents and businesses.

"This is likely to cause disruption to drivers and the activities of local people and businesses in and around the venues."

Among the roads to be closed will be the Swing Bridge across the Tyne as well as several other approach routes into the city.

Tyne Bridge will be open to vehicles, but closed to pedestrians.

Footpaths will be closed off with mesh screens and a bus service will operate to take people across.

"We have to achieve the right balance between public reassurance, safety and speed of response," said the spokesman.





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