SOUTHAMPTON councillors are calling for a derelict pub to be converted into a hub to serve community groups.

With smashed windows and boarded up doors the Bridge Tavern has stood empty for more than a decade.

But now, Cllr for Coxford, Barrie Margetts believes the site on Coxford Road should be used as a space to benefit residents in the area.

Cllr Margetts said: “I think it should be a hub where community groups can come together. There are a lack of places for young people. We have a problem with kids riding around on their motorbikes. We need to think about if things other things we can give them to do.”

Cllr for Shirley and cabinet member for homes and culture, Satvir Kaur added: "The old Bridge Tavern has been a frustrating derelict eye-sore for years now. As Shirley ward councillors we have worked extremely hard to ensure the building is safe and continue to encourage the private landlord of the building to make better use of their site. There are so many ways this building could be regenerated to serve the local community in Shirley Warren better."

According to the Campaign for Real Ale, an organisation which promotes real ale, real cider and traditional British pubs, the tavern has been “permanently closed” since 2007.

Its website lists Darcy Construction Limited as the most recent owner of the tavern.

Records from Southampton City Council show that planning applications were submitted in 2010 to redevelop the plot of land on Coxford and near to the border of Shirley.

Proposals had been made to demolish the former public house and build two blocks of flats.

However, these plans were rejected as the plans were “out of character” with the neighbourhood.

On Thursday night emergency services rushed to battle a blaze at the former watering hole.

Daily Echo:

Police officers investigating the incident are treating the cause of the fire as “suspicious” and believe it started from a pile of rubbish.

Crews from St Marys, Redbridge and Totton fire stations were all on the scene to tackle the blaze.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services received the emergency call at 6.49pm after it is believed someone broke in and started the fire.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Police said: “The fire is been treated as a suspicious incident at the moment but the cause of the fire is unknown though it appears to have been in a pile of rubbish.”

A spokesperson from HFRS at the scene told the Daily Echo that the roof “was well alight” upon arrival.

He added: “When we arrived we could see fire coming out of the holes [at the bottom of the building].

“Someone had broken in there so we had to check there were no casualties.

“Two crews were sent to extinguish the fire, and to search the building and make sure there was no one in there.”

Anyone with any information relating to the fire is urged to call 101 quoting crime reference number 44190318297.

The Daily Echo has contacted Darcy Construction for a comment.