THOUSANDS of police officers are expected to be in Thornbury for the policing of the NATO summit being held today (Thursday, September 4) and tomorrow (Friday, September 5).
The summit will be the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain as the world’s most important people will meet at Celtic Manor in Newport.
The Newport hotel, however, is no stranger to hosting major, international events having held the Ryder Cup golf tournament in 2010.
A peak of up to 2,000 officers is expected in Thornbury as the former South Gloucestershire council buildings have been taken over.
Multiple police vehicles, including riot vans and 4x4s, are now being based at the site in Castle Street ahead of the summit.
Around 9,000 police officers from across the country will join their Welsh colleagues to help police the event and officers have been seen patrolling the Severn Bridge Crossing and many officers have been spotted using sniffer dogs to check public areas.
Many of them will be briefed in Thornbury before taking up various security roles for the duration of the summit.
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said that Thornbury will be used as a base for major police operations regarding the NATO summit.
“During the NATO summit, the former council offices on Castle Street will be used as a base for briefing officers involved in the policing operation.
“At a peak, up to 2,000 officers from across the country will be briefed there each day before being deployed both within Avon and Somerset and in other areas.”
Around 60 of the world’s most influential leaders will be joined by representatives of international organisations to attend the summit to tackle issues including Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Amongst those expected to attend are US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
Seven warships are being joined by a host of military aircraft which have been spotted flying over the South East Wales area.
A convoy, with police escort, was spotted travelling through the Cotswolds on Monday, September 1 which Gloucestershire police said was connected to the NATO summit.
With many of the police officers staying in hotels around the area, especially within the M4 corridor, rooms are in short-supply.
Mark Payne, general manager at Tortworth Court Hotel said: “We’ve picked up a lot of the dispersion; a lot of people who couldn’t get in to hotels around Bristol and Cardiff are staying here.
“A lot of businessmen and corporate people are staying here because they can’t get rooms closer to Bristol and Cardiff.”
Rumours of high-profile guests staying in the local area were quickly quashed.