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Brighton: Bicycles seized by police ahead of Lib Dem conference speeches

Security risk to people queueing to see Nick Clegg speak

We're all familiar with the idea that if you leave your bike locked up to an on-street bike rack, it might not be there when you get back.

That's the case for 14 cyclists in Brighton, but luckily for them, their bikes will be safe and sound (minus their locks) at the local nick.

Police are taking no chances with security at the Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend, where Nick Clegg will address the party faithful at the Brighton Centre, just next door to his accomodation at the Grand Hotel, scene of the 1984 IRA bombing, that was an attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher. Five people were killed and a number were injured.

Cyclists were warned to remove their bikes with signs attached to racks a few days ago, but yesterday an operation began to remove any stragglers with an array of power tools.

The racks, outside the Odeon cinema on the seafront, line the pavements that are expected to be 'queue points' for delegates attending today's speech.

It seems the most likely fear is of bicycle bombs, or improvised explosive devices placed in or on bicycles.

They have been used before, but not always effectively.

The IRA has been known to plant devices in the baskets of bicycles and have caused a number of deaths in this way. They've also been used by terrorists in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Once of the most sophisticated bicycle bombs was used to kill the director of Deutsche Bank, Alfred Herrhausen, in 1989.

According to Wikipedia:

Herrhausen fell victim to a sophisticated roadside bomb shortly after leaving his home in Bad Homburg on 30 November 1989. He was being chauffeured to work in his armoured Mercedes-Benz, with bodyguards in both a lead vehicle and another following behind. The bomb had been hidden in a saddle bag on a bicycle next to the road that the assassins knew Herrhausen would be traveling in his three-car convoy. In the bag was a 7 kg bomb that was detonated when Herrhausen's car interrupted a beam of infrared light as it passed the bicycle. The bomb targeted the most vulnerable area of Herrhausen's car—-the door where he was sitting—-and required split-second timing to overcome the car's special armour plating.

It sounds as though Brighton locals are unhappy about the cycle parking restrictions that they are having to observe; Sussex police have had to ask members of the public to stop removing the signs attached to bike racks.

Superintendent Steve Whitton said: "Officers have now removed approximately 14 bicycles as part of the security operation around the Grand Hotel and the Brighton Centre.

"The bikes have all been taken to John Street Police Station and owners are advised to come to the front office of the station to reclaim them. New signs will be put up to replace the ones that have been removed."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on

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