This Sunday marks the eagerly anticipated return of Newcastle United to Premiership action with a lunch-time kick-off match with Tottenham Hotspur; with the safety of the expected 52,000 fans being paramount to Newcastle City Council and its match day partners.
In pre-season, the local authority worked closely with those partners in light of recent security risks. The City Council, Northumbria Police and Newcastle United Football Club have listened to concerns from the Newcastle United Fan’s Forum and increased match day safety procedures were proposed.
The concerns were for fans entering the East stand prior to the match and fans making their way from the stadium, where crowd density is greatest.
The proposals saw the development of a new “crowd mitigation” scheme that was successfully trialled at the recent pre-season friendly home game between Newcastle United and Hellas Verona on 6th August.
This process will be in operation on Leazes Terrace next to the East Stand before the game and on Strawberry Place after the full time whistle only on Sunday, and for other home games throughout the season.
The scheme stops vehicles entering key areas around St James’ Park – protecting football fans queuing to enter the East Stand before the match, and fans leaving the match using the public highway. The cordon is made up of traffic signs and cones; official vehicles; and 2.5 ton concrete blocks which are put into position using a forklift truck.
Timings: On Sunday, Leazes Terrace will be closed to vehicles from 12:30pm until approximately 4.15pm. Strawberry Place will to closed to vehicles at the start of the second half of the match (2.45pm) and is anticipated to reopen at around 4.15pm.
Road closure details: The barriers will be in place at several locations around St James’ Park. The areas affected being:
· The junction of Strawberry Place and Leazes Park Road
· The junction of Strawberry Place and Barrack Road
· The junction of Strawberry Place and St James Street
· Strawberry Lane
· Terrace Place
Roads will be reopened to vehicles as soon as it is practicably safe to do so. Drivers are advised to avoid the area during these times.
There will also be additional signage in and around the City Centre advising drivers when Strawberry Place is closed, with signs being in place at Queen Victoria Road and Richardson Road to encourage drivers to use alternative routes.
The existing traffic signals at the junction of Strawberry Place and Leazes Park Road next to Barker and Stonehouse will be held on ‘all red’ for traffic, when the pedestrian flows are busiest after the match. This will prevent vehicles from moving in this area and will enable the safe journey of people walking towards the car park at Eldon Gardens.
Safety and security of supporters attending St James’ Park on match days is a high priority and arrangements have been put in place to focus on mitigating the post-match congestion by introducing measures to close Strawberry Place to traffic when fans are leaving the ground at the end of the game. This will remove the mix of pedestrians and vehicles on what is a busy thoroughfare.
The scheme will continue to review pre-match footfall and introduce any additional measures deemed necessary as the season progresses.
The scheme’s partners include Newcastle City Council, Newcastle United Football Club, Northumbria Police and the Newcastle United Fan’s Forum.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Chair of the community safety partnership, Safe Newcastle, said: “The partnership approach towards this safety scheme has been very important as the concerns raised by the fans were quickly acknowledged and addressed with the crowd mitigation measures being the resulting outcome.
“We have learnt a great deal from testing the scheme during the recent pre-season friendly. It allowed the safety team to implement the road closures under live conditions. The feedback that we’ve received has been positive from all parties involved in the programme. We ask for the continued patience of both fans and vehicle users, as this scheme is in place to help protect people on match day and look out for their well-being.
“The City Council will work with our partners to ensure the scheme is a success and that people feel safe and at ease, allowing them to enjoy the football at St James’ Park.”
Prior to the introduction of the planned road closures. The City Council met with all of the scheme’s partners to talk through the proposed intentions.
Social media is a great way to learn more details on match day. You can follow Newcastle City Council on Face Book via @NewcastleCityCouncil or @NewcastleCC on Twitter.