Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Eagle Eyes

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Eagle Eyes

Article excerpt

Byline: June Kelly

Biggest security operation ever as Blair prepares to welcome Bush

THE countdown started in earnest today for the launch of the North-east's biggest ever security operation.

President George Bush was flying into Britain tonight as the clock began ticking on the region's chance to prove it can cope with such a high profile visit.

The eyes of the world will be on the tiny villages that make up Prime Minister Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency as Bush jets in.

And the presence of hundreds of anti-war protesters will make the job of policing the visit even harder.

Sedgefield is due to be the focus for anti war demonstrators from the North of England and Scotland - although it had not been confirmed that Mr Bush would even visit the town.

Peter Smith, chairman of Teesside Against the War, said: "It will be a peaceful protest but we don't want to let him get away with photo opportunities without us being there."

The biggest security operation ever seen in County Durham is being prepared for the visit.

Officers from neighbouring forces, including Cleveland Police are expected to be drafted in to ensure the visit goes without hitch.

Preparations are being made for a possible stop at Mr Blair's home in Trimdon but details of the schedule will not be released until nearer the time.

Four US government helicopters landed on a field close to the house yesterday.

The police operation in County Durham is expected to cost about pounds 1 million and the force is talking to the Home Office about recouping the cost.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police are liaising with the North-east constabulary to ensure continuity.

However, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Barnett insisted Durham Constabulary will have overall responsibility for Friday's operation. …

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