Wales

Nato Wales 2014: Newport summit in numbers

Infograph Image copyright BBC/Thinkstock/PA

The Nato summit is due to be held in Wales - the first time Britain has hosted the leaders of the western defence alliance in a generation.

The event will bring heads of government to Newport's Celtic Manor as well as thousands of officials, journalists and protesters to the city and neighbouring Cardiff.

There will be an unprecedented security operation with a huge fence around key venues and police drafted in from across the UK.

Schools, roads and transport are also being disrupted.

So what can people expect?

The summit - who will be there?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Will they toast Wales? President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be at the summit

These get-togethers of 60 heads of government, another 180 VIPs, and 4,000 delegates and officials only happen every two or three years. And given the logistical headache of arranging that, it is no surprise.

The last one in Britain was in London 24 years ago, so this has been hailed as a coup for Wales and a feather in the cap for Newport.

This one is expected to see talks over Russia/Ukraine security issues and the relationship with Afghanistan. Threats from elsewhere and defence spending is also expected to feature on a heavy agenda.

Look out for the likes of President Barack Obama. But don't expect to get too close.

So security is going to be tight?

Just a little. Those in the Newport and Cardiff areas over the last few weeks will not have failed to notice a "ring of steel" being erected around buildings and along main roads, with check-points and entry gates.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The security fence in Cardiff

It goes without saying that the summit venue, the Celtic Manor, is cordoned off. But Cardiff Castle, the Royal College of Music and Drama and Tredegar House being used for dinners and receptions are also under tight security.

As well as the usual terrorist threats, police are expecting up to 20,000 protesters. A peace camp is being set up at Tredegar Park and officers are expecting demonstrations to be peaceful but it has to be remembered that there have been violent protests at the previous two summits in 2012 in Chicago and in 2009 in Strasbourg.

The police locally will provide 1,500 officers but that will swell considerably with officers drafted in from around the UK. The security operation has been called "unchartered territory" in its scale, and a bigger challenge than the London Olympics.

How will people get around?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There is a warning of traffic congestion during the summit

Motorists have already been getting used to some road closures but there will be a lock-down in some central areas when the summit is on and people are being warned to keep an eye on local travel advice.

There have already been some problems when the security measures first started.

Newport Council has warned of "significant congestion" but says delays will be confined to particular "pinch points". Cardiff Council has tried to suggest alternative routes for people using the city.

Be prepared for thousands more rail passengers travelling between Newport and Cardiff.

Cardiff Airport says it will be "business as usual" but be prepared for travel restrictions travelling in and out by road. There will also be a 10,000ft no-fly zone over parts of south Wales and Bristol.

Will there be any more disruption?

Pupils are only just going back after the summer holidays but some schools in Newport, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have already planned to send children home early or change the school timetable. Around 40 are expected to shut altogether or have Inset days. Only one school in Torfaen is closing, because some pupils travel in from Newport.

Newport Council says some residents will see changes to their waste collection.

It's not all bad news though is it?

Far from it, if you look beyond the fence. Words like "historic" and "momentous" have been used to describe the importance the summit has for putting Wales on a world stage.

The Celtic Manor has already hosted golf's Ryder Cup, and Cardiff has welcomed a European summit and FA Cup finals, but this is a different league.

There are hopes of longer-term benefits for some short term, local disruption.

Prince Charles will be hosting one of the key receptions. The virtues of Wales' industries, tourism and academic record will be promoted.

And as one senior official put it: "We hope the world will keep coming back to Wales as a result of this summit."

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