IT’S not over yet.

That’s the message from Southampton business leaders after widespread reports the UK recession “is at an end”.

According to research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), optimism among professionals moved to its highest level for two years in the third quarter, prompting them to claim the end of the painful economic slump.

The influential organisation now predicts that economic output will rise 0.5 per cent this quarter.

But the bite of the recession is still being felt in the region’s high streets, business parks and industrial estates, according to local experts.

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Jimmy Chestnutt, director general of the Southampton and Fareham Chamber of Commerce, said: “Any indication that the worst may be over is welcome news.

“However the Chamber of Commerce has evidence that while some companies are now more confident about the future there are many in the area that are continuing to suffer from the effects of the recession with low levels of activity, difficult cash flow issues and continuing pressure on costs and staff numbers.

“We may well be on the road to recovery but given the current state of public finances that road is likely to be long and difficult.”

Sally Lynskey, of Business Southampton, agreed.

“The feedback we are getting is still mixed. There are companies out there who are still finding it bleak and having to fight for every contract.

“But in areas such as house building there are definite signs of recovery and that has meant conveyancing departments are getting busier again.

“There are indications that the market is picking up and the cruise industry and domestic tourism seem to be doing well too.”

Councillor Royston Smith, Cabinet member for economic development, said: “I’d like to think it was true but I don’t see any evidence of it.”