IMG 8189fi 800x425 - The cost of hosting US Presidents

Its that time again when a whole swathe of Regent’s Park is given over to a particular purpose – at great cost to the country – and probably of little benefit too – especially this time round! Yes you guessed – its the Trump visit. This unpopular President no doubt causes great expense to those countries he visits and Britain is no exception, having to stump up a great bill for security, barriers, huge amounts of extra policing. Indeed police forces from practically every UK force has to send someone to London to enable the Met to meet the numbers required for these occasions.

Why does Regents Park have to bear so much security? There’s a simple answer. Its the home of the US Ambassador to Britain, which is Winfield House, and invariably its where US Presidents will stay when they do come over here.

Who had the more security? Obama or Trump? That’s a good question. I think generally the US goes all out to protect its presidents whether they are popular or not. As history shows, too many have been shot at and several assassinated and security these days is the absolute maximum it can be.

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Security gateways at the south side of Macclesfield Bridge.

There is a huge security cordon put in place anyway around Winfield House no matter who comes and whether its a state visit or a working visit. Barak was a far more popular president but he and his wife/family still needed maximum security. One simply does don’t know who has their sights set on the US presidents and no-one is prepared to take risks. Even the most popular presidents have been killed and its a risk no-one wants to take – and sadly means there has to be maximum security for peace of mind.

Its clear to me however (and no doubt others too) Trump is getting far far more security than others before him, therefore his visits to the country are costing the UK more in terms of infrastructure, equipment, human resources, policing etc. This can be verified simply by looking at sources on the internet such as news articles, tweets, photography agencies.

Can the enormous expense being spared on this particular US president be justified? I don’t really think so, despite the fact there is a constitutional responsibility to protect him.

Its not just Regents Park, its everywhere. Buckingham Palace. Portsmouth. Blenheim Palace. Windsor Castle. All these places need huge security in place. Not only that in the days before any important visits police and other officials have to scour places making sure they are clean, no suspect devices anywhere, all drain covers sealed, marked line of sight from roof lines scrutinised etc etc.

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Charlbert Bridge over Regent’s Canal closed for the duration of the state visit.

The Regents Park cordon used to be quite a sensible one, but for the purposes of the Trump visit it has been considerably enlarged. Its quite clever because the canal through Regent’s Park is being used as an extra zone of exclusion. Its clear from this and other subtleties the Trump visit is getting even more security, and its costing us more.

This doesn’t mean the canal is closed or anything. Boats can still use it and people can still walk along it. What it means is instead of the security boundary being along the outer ring road on the north side of Regent’s park, its now even further north, where the canal is.

To achieve this they have had to close one key element, this being the Charlbert bridge, and part close another, this being the Macclesfield Bridge. A bridge at the other end of the exclusion zone, that at Park Road, doesn’t need closing off because it has a high wall exactly on the side that’s needed anyway.

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Notice warning of the bridge’s closure seen 1st June – except it had been closed two days earlier.

Notices went up a few days ago warning that the bridge at Chalbert Street would be closed with effect from 2nd June for the duration of the visit. In fact it was closed two days early! It prompted me to set out and discover what are the facts behind this and other visits by US Presidents.

I couldn’t find out how much the Obama visits cost, but its said of the first Trump visit it was around £14 million, a fairly low estimate. Not only that, it was the biggest police mobilisation since the UK riots in 2011 – clearly Trump requires far far more police to station his look-out.

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The main entrance to Winfield House on 1st June. Usually one Met officer is present at all times. There will of course be many more when Trump is staying here over the next few days.

The UK’s costs of hosting US Presidents ends at the gates to Winfield House and everything within the residency of is course met from the US’ own budget, including banquets, events, accommodation for staff, and paying for police officers to be on the premises.

Trump’s first visit for just a day or two in London last year required almost 10,000 officers undertaking 26,000 shifts. The cost was actually £18 million. Initial estimates prior to the visit had been that it would cost £8 too £10 million. One report suggested it was £3 million. Far far wrong! It was practically double, triple, quadruple, whatever!

On top of that it cost the UK £321,746 for other things such as entertainment and transportation. No doubt there are other costs too but that one extra is all I can find from this page.

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The US stars and stripes flag at Winfield House – and quite easily seen from the Outer Circle.

Obama’s 2016 three day visit in comparison (it wasnt a state visit), this is just three years ago, cost the UK a mere £1.6 million! 4,268 officers in total were required. It shows we are paying through the nose simply because Trump isn’t wanted here! Everyone loved Obama and that of course mitigated the security aspect quite considerably.

The first US president ever to have a state visit was George Bush in November 2003, so Trump is just the third so far (his previous stay was a working visit). Bush had huge demonstrations against his UK visits because of the war in Iraq etc.

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The rear exit from Winfield House. These gates are not normally used. This is the best view one can get of the residency in the summer. It can be seen from other parts of the park in winter when the trees are bare.

Here’s a list of visits to the UK made by ALL US Presidents (whether a holiday, working or state.)

There isnt any exact data on the costs of policing or security for Bush’s visit. However the Guardian says 5,000 officers were needed and the costs were likely to top 5 million. The BBC says the Met cites a total figure of £4.1 million for the Bush visit.

Its been said this latest visit by Trump is going to cost the UK millions more. There are rough estimates some such as the BBC saying £18 million (which seems to have been plucked from last years figures!) I think its rather on the conservative side and would think probably it’ll be £20 to £25 million.

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You have been warned! No-one likes this President but nobody’s taking any chances.

There are of course other hidden costs that are not reflected in any total bills. For example the deployment of the military and the RAF. Our air forces are on stand-by, working overtime monitoring the skies and ready to deploy fighter aircraft if anything unusual happens when the US president is in his helicopter (Marine One) or plane (Airforce One.) Indeed the RAF will have helicopters or planes supporting the President’s entourage anyway, but that is just the public part everyone sees.

There are also costs to the various local councils, utility companies, local businesses, many things that simply don’t get reflected in the total cost of these events. Clearing up spaces, roads, repairing drains, manhole covers, installing barriers and additional infrastructure – the list is endless.

There isn’t anything secret about what the President uses, or what security cordons are put in place to protect them. Information can be found on the internet and in news articles. For example the BBC or Sky News have detailed run-downs of the President’s entourage, planes, helicopters, vehicles etc. In terms of security the Mail and the Standard has these items on the Trump cordons in Regent’s Park and around Winfield House – there are many pictures on social media documenting these too.

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Pedestrian security gate in view of the Regent’s Park mosque.

Clearly an unpopular US President is going to cost us many times over what it should be. Is that right? I don’t think it is but there we are.

Trump didn’t ring the UK and say ‘I wanna visit your country for a bit…’ The UK Government/the Queen are the ones who invited him! They are the ones who decided the country could put up this great expense for such a US President.

When it comes to things like benefits, health, social care, etc it seems the same powers-to-be don’t exercise the same diplomacy towards the poor, the disabled, the unemployed etc. We are shafted because we are simply of no importance of any sort.

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Huge lights every 50 metres or so which means at night this will be an immensely lit up area. There’s probably fifty of these lighting units required. Rental costs have to be incurred of course. No doubt with large numbers of police/security patrolling the Winfield House perimeter all night (naturally in collaboration with the CIA and special US agents) but still a very costly exercise for the UK.

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