Lakeside tightens terror cordon

Lakeside has stepped up security after it emerged the shopping centre could have been a target for a terrorist attack.

Earlier this week, a plot by suspected terrorists to blow up a UK target - possibly a shopping centre near the M25 - was understood to have been foiled by MI5.

Lakeside general manager Mike Pearse was reluctant to give details of security measures, but said the centre had 'raised alertness behind the scenes'.

'We do want to reassure shoppers, so we've made sure we've got high-profile security measures such as security officers patrolling the mall,' he said.

Footfall at Lakeside has not been affected by fear of terrorism and was up 8 per cent in March, according to Pearse.

In a statement, Bluewater said it was at no more risk than any other major destination.

Speaking ahead of the MI5 swoop, bookseller Ottakar's managing director James Heneage warned that consumers are already beginning to avoid potential terror targets for fear of being caught up in a Madrid-style terror attack.

He said people are increasingly nervous about shopping in places such as Bluewater and central London. He said: 'They are obvious targets. It's hideous to say, but it's true.'

Heneage, a former Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards who has served in Germany and Kenya, said: 'It will be interesting to see how many people shop in London this Christmas.'