SECURITY fencing will lock down Southsea Common when US president Donald Trump visits for D-Day commemorations – with a double-layered solid steel fence blocking any view of the poignant ceremony.
President Trump – famed for trying to get his own wall at the Mexico-US border – is due to be in Portsmouth on June 5 for the D-Day 75 events.
Hopes of having an open ceremony with people packed on to the common to watch Normandy Landings veterans being honoured have been dashed.
Fencing will stretch around the entirety of Southsea Common from Pier Road to the Pyramids Centre as a first security perimeter.
Anyone entering will be subjected to security checks before being able to watch the ceremony on large TV screens inside.
Double-layered solid steel security fencing
But the actual historic occasion will take place behind a cordon secured by a two-layered solid steel fence. This will now be invitation only.
Portsmouth City Council leader councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Our vision of this being open to the public is not going to happen.’
Protesters will be given their own designated area as demonstrations are expected to follow Mr Trump throughout his state visit to Britain in June.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Everybody accepts there will be protests and if you don’t find a place for them to protest they will be all over the place and that will be even worse.’
The city Liberal Democrat leader said on Tuesday that Mr Trump was ‘not welcome’ but was then branded ‘childish’ by his Conservative opponent.
Events ‘will now cost millions’
Speaking to The News yesterday, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the entire event will now cost ‘millions’ more – and insisted that government must pay the bill.
He said: ‘Around the event itself on the fifth there will be a solid steel fence so that only invited guests can get in and also people won’t be able to see into the event either.
‘It will be broadcast by the BBC and people will be able to see it on the big screens on the common but it will be like seeing it at home.
‘All of the common will be fenced off from Pier Road right the way down to the Pyramids.
‘The ceremony itself will be in an extra secure area. Anybody going into the common will have to go through security.
‘They’re also looking at creating an area for protesters because inevitably protesters will come and it’s important for them to be separate from people wanting to watch the ceremony on the big screens.’
Concern over council spending cash without guarantee
He said Portsmouth City Council will be spending the cash on the event’s infrastructure but will be sending the bill to government.
Portsmouth South’s Labour MP Stephen Morgan, who has asked government to fund D-Day 75 in Portsmouth, said: ‘Mr Trump’s previous visit to the UK cost £18 million in policing and security alone.
‘When the announcement was made yesterday I wrote with urgency to the city council as commemorations will now require significant resource, security arrangements and additional planning.
‘This extra burden is of great concern considering the financial and capacity constraints already on the local authority, and over-stretched police and other public sector agencies.’
MP meets US ambassador and urges ‘focus on veterans’
It comes as Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, yesterday met with the US ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson.
In a letter to Ambassador Johnson, Mr Morgan said: 'Whilst the world’s attention will be on the city, I am sure you will agree the focus of all international and local events must be on those who fought for and with our nation in order to achieve world peace, at such a pivotal point in time where the events of 1944 are passing from living memory into history.
‘The commemorations also provide an opportunity to show Portsmouth as a place that helps foster a legacy of remembrance, reflection and reconciliation.
‘For that reason, our attention must remain on ensuring commemorative events do justice to our veterans and showing Portsmouth at its best. Your efforts in ensuring this happens are greatly appreciated.’