Friday, May 12, 2006

Southampton Council at its very worst

Sometimes I despair at the way our city is run and often its not down to political control but rather the actions (or even inaction) of Council Officers. (Worryingly if I was an elected City Councillor, by my reading of the Local Government Code of Conduct, I would not be allowed to say that!)
The biggest mistakes often come along when a number of different Council Departments are involved, all running to their own priorities and adgendas; yet residents and local businesses seem to be forgotten. One of the best examples of this maybe found in what is often called the French Quarter in the Bargate area of Southampton.
One of the oldest areas of the city, the area has been a settlement since medieval times. The 'French Quarter' as it became known was heavily bombed during the war and rebuilt piecemeal from the 1950's upto the late 1970s. Located in an area at the bottom of the High Street the area is extreme mixed in terms of housing with some Victorian and even Georgian Terraces, social housing comprising of maisonates and some fairly up market 1960s tower blocks and some nice 1980's to current modern blocks of flats. The population is similarly diverse with over seven languages being spoken at St John's,
(school website
the local infant school. Resident's incomes range from what could only be described as almost subsistence to pretty comfortable. The school incidentally is outstanding; a good example of what can be achieved with an excellent Headteacher, a strong governing body and some able teachers (for details of the schools last ofsted report go to
However times are changing; a huge triangular plot of land that used to include a Habitat store fronting the main high street, a set of offices for one-time defense giant Marconi and a huge fruit and veg wholesaler have been cleared to make way for a huge development of flats by Linden Homes, the site occupying about 0.5ha. The footing have started to be dug. And the problems have started to begin... To see some photos of the excavations of the site go to;
It is clear that parking for the new development will be woefully inadequate. The main road through the site has been partially to allow access for the contractors.
Inexplicably a number of on-road parking bays have already been removed by the council. And now Linden Homes have approached the Council to remove further spaces in French Street itself. This is a real issue not least as the infant school and nursery requires children to be dropped off by a responsible adult and many have to drive in order to get there. The nearest off-road parking available in any quantity will actually be by the old pier/red funnel ferry terminal; the other side of a busy dual carriageway! This site itself is also planned for development over the next 18 months. To make a bad situation worse, the council have also extended parking meters to the whole area, of the new solar powered variety and have raised the charges to 70p for 30 minutes.
Without properly consulting local businesses and local residents, the Council have also been working up a scheme to change the road layout in the area, apparently according to one Official I spoke to to replicate the original pre-1800 road plan as closely as possible!
When one business complained about the removal of parking bays in the vicinity of his shop, he was told that he didn't have any right to be consulted! Other traders have complained about the proposed road layout and indeed the current road closures but sadly as yet to no avail.
Meanwhile in French Street itself the retaining wall and the road are both in quite a dangerous state of repair and have been reported but no work has been done.
All in all a classic case of drift and incompetence.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

once again southampton city council has really thought things through . looking after big buissness instead of residents .

8:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to let people interested in the archaeology know that the Oxford Archaeology's URL is now

9:46 am  

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