Furious residents from Derby Road, Southampton tell company behind Channel 4 show Immigration Street to "get out" of their community

Residents at the meeting. Echo picture by Chris Moorhouse

Love Productions' Kieran Smith talks at the meeting

Residents at the meeting

First published in News
Last updated

SCORES of angry Southampton residents urged the film-makers behind controversial TV documentary Immigration Street to "get out" of their community at a heated meeting.

Dozens of residents from Derby Road packed into Maytree Primary School to grill one of the men behind the Channel 4 programme, which will air next year.

Love Productions' creative director Kieran Smith was booed when he entered the meeting, and was given a frosty reception throughout the evening by angry residents.

Banners urging the production company to "go away" were held up throughout the meeting, with city council cabinet communities member Satvir Kaur urging residents to "slap them" in the company's face, although "not literally" she added.

As previously reported, the company has been filming in the street over the last few months, and it has led to concerns from the community and city politicians.

Channel 4 is set to air the show, a sequel to last year's Benefits Street, next year.

T‎onight's meeting was called to inform residents about the filming and to air concerns.

Some of the residents who talked at the meeting said they do not want Derby Road to become known as 'immigration street', that the community is "diverse and harmonious", and that they did not want to be portrayed in the way‎ residents were on Benefits Street.

That programme was filmed in Birmingham and was heavily criticised for presenting the residents and area negatively.

In response to fears from residents that they would be misrepresented on film, Mr Smith told the audience that anyone who had been filmed would have a chance to watch the footage before it was used.

When asked why he could not cancel the show, he said he didn’t have the power to stop filming and said: “I have no idea what it would take.”

He added: “The fact remains that we have many people who are very happy to be involved.

“It would be a discussion between myself and Channel 4 but I have to consult with Channel 4.

"At this point all I can say is I came here to listen to people. I’m not going to make any sort of decision tonight.”

And he also said his company did not pay residents to take part, or "target" vulnerable people in the community.

But his answers failed to appease the crowd of more than 80 people, with many shouting at him to "get out" of their community and heckling him throughout the meeting.

One resident said: “It’s taken the community about 30 to 50 years to clean this area right up. Now that it is clean we don’t want to dirty it again.”

And another said: “We need to lock them down. Surely this is inciting racism.”

And Eileen Wareham said: “I’m a third generation Irish immigrant. Why don’t you come to film in my street?”

Ali Beg said they had spoken to their counterparts in James Turner Street in Birmingham where they had filmed Benefit Street.

“It’s now known not as James Turner Street but as Benefit Street.”

He feared a similar name change would happen to Derby Road.

And another resident said: “Do you realise the stigma that you are bringing on a community? For you it’s a six to eight weeks project; for us it will go on for a generation. Do you appreciate that?”

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