ANGRY residents packed a public meeting to voice their concerns about a major new development in Southampton.

People living in Redbridge joined councillors and Southampton Test Labour MP Alan Whitehead at the Ship Inn to discuss the development proposed for vacant land in Test Lane.

The heated meeting even lead to one councillor telling the Daily Echo they want to call for a cabinet member to resign. 

Work on the controversial South Central distribution centre is due to begin this summer, despite residents campaigning fiercely against the plans.

Planning permission for the development was granted in October 2015, despite two separate petitions opposing the site, totalling almost 400 signatures, being handed to the council.

Hundreds of protesters also staged a last ditch attempt to scrap the plans in April the year, but the plans are set to go ahead.

Last night's meeting saw residents consider proposals to mitigate the development on Redbridge, including plans to limit where lorries will be able to drive.

Another key concern was air pollution in the area and the affect the development will have.

Speaking at the meeting, independent councillor Andrew Pope said: "The council is putting resident against resident that is unacceptable and the development should not be going ahead."

He also criticised council officers for not attending some meetings in relation to the development, although planning officers maintained they did not receive a full invitation to them.

Cllr Jacqui Rayment, Southampton City Council's cabinet member for environment and transport, replied: "I am not going to get into a slanging match with you Andrew, and you continuously ask questions that you know the answer to.

"We will work to make sure we get the right solution."
To rapturous applause, Eugene McManus, chairman of the Redbridge Residents' Association, said: "We will allow councillors to get at each other but we as residents will remain harmonious." 

Residents will now have the chance to have their say on different options on how to deal with traffic in the area.

An online pamphlet released by Evander Properties, the complex’s developer, said the size of the three units that will occupy the site would be 205,935 square metres and they would be available for occupation by 2017.

Here is what politicians, campaigners and resident leaders had to say after the meeting:

Eugene McManus, chairman of the Redbridge Residents Association, said: "It was a very well attended meeting with 130 residents here, which is very representative of the village."

When asked about Cllr Pope's comments that residents are being set against each other by the council, he said: "We are a non-political organisation and we never want people to think things like the north of the village is looking after itself and the south are left to suffer with road closures. We want to represent the whole area and we want the option we come up with to be suitable to everybody."

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, said: "As the meeting heard this is a development which a lot of people don't want and it's been a battle over a long period to try and get the consequences of the development in some kind of proper order.

"As we can see it is very difficult to get a solution that does not make worse for some and better for others."

Simon Stokes, a Liberal Democrat candidate for the Redbridge ward and campaigner, said: "We are talking about this development as if it is a done deal, if that is the case then that is unfortunate and we have to move on.

"There is a real village feel to Redbridge and that will be lost by this development.

"Ideally we would like to see the development not go ahead."

Andrew Pope, Independent councillor for Redbridge, said: "It is clear that residents don't want this development to go ahead and now the council is trying to divide them when arguing about issues when it comes to the road.

"I was going to ask for the resignation of Jaqui Rayment, she is completely incompetent and lied to the people in the area."

When asked if it was appropriate to bring party politics into the meeting by arguing with Cllr Rayment, Cllr Pope replied: "It is totally justified and relevant. 

"People need to have their say when the council is utterly failing to fix the roads or deal with the traffic.

"The sale of the land needs to be refused by the leader of the council, he can still do it, but he refuses to."

Jacqui Rayment, a Labour councillor and the cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "I appreciate there are a lot of people with frustrations, some of the issues are outside of my and indeed Southampton City Council's control, that is not to say that were was not a commitment made to see if we can open up some of these discussions.

"We were invited to the meeting to look at options that may solve some of the issues to do with Gover Road and now we need to see what is said back to the Resident's Association.

"Councillor Pope, like every council officer has the ability to be briefed, he asks questions just because he does not like the answers.

"I think his behaviour this evening demonstrates how out of touch he is with some of his residents as they were there to look at some of the solutions."

When asked about Cllr Pope's calls for Cllr Rayment to resign, she said: "I won't waste my breath on him."