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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Improve our Parks and Heritage - Don't Cut Them!

Redbridge Wharf Park looking out over Southampton Water

An Extract from our 2015 Redbridge Rally Leaflet

For over a year now, Independent Councillor Andrew Pope has been working to protect the heritage in the Old Redbridge / Redbridge Village part of the Redbridge ward, and working to improve it.

When researching the heritage of the area, Andrew discovered in 2015 that the two old bridges at Redbridge, next to the newer road bridges, were being neglected by both Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council.

The eastern bridge at Redbridge (Anchor pub on right)

These bridges are grade-II listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments. The site of the bridges is chock full of history, as is Redbridge Village itself. But it has been neglected for too long.

The neglect may have been because they are on the boundary between the two council's land. There may have been other reasons too, like successive Labour and Tory administrations of Southampton City Council cutting the number of staff working on conservation to its absolute bare bones.

So Andrew took the initiative and spoke with officers of both councils.

Over the past year, Andrew has worked with Hampshire County Council to produce plans for improving the site. These plans are now being put into action, and works were occurring on site today when we visited with Network Rail.

Andrew has also spoken with the Angling Trust and the Police about illegal fishing on the site.

Today, Andrew and his Redbridge Independents colleague Denise Wyatt, met with Network Rail, SCAPPS and CoSS to discuss Network Rail's plans for putting sidings at Redbridge Wharf Park.

Redbridge Wharf Park
The Council Has Let the Park Deteriorate

This was the second site meeting, and Network Rail's plans are being blocked by Andrew's objections to their plans to take away some of the Park. SCAPPS and CoSS have also objected.

Andrew and Denise have pledged to protect Redbridge's parks, so unless Network Rail provide an alternative site to mitigate the removal of part of Redbridge Wharf Park, we will continue to object to their proposal.

Andrew suggested months ago that improving the Redbridge bridges and opening them up to the public, as well as improving what remains of the Park, may be suitable mitigation. But Network Rail were not initially keen on his suggestion. They claimed a footbridge would cost too much, and cited other "reasons" why it couldn't be done.

However, at today's meeting, under pressure from Andrew and Denise working with SCAPPs and CoSS, there was some movement from Network Rail. Network Rail confirmed that they will be contributing to a scheme. They agreed to come up with revised plans "as soon as possible".

So we await Network Rail's updated plans, with details of how they will provide suitable parks for local residents to enjoy.

In addition, we do not believe that residents next to the proposed sidings are properly aware of the proposals. We believe that they would object to the noise and light pollution, especially if it was 24-hour.

So we also await answers to our questions from Network Rail.

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