AT the end of a turbulent year, the Daily Echo takes a look back at some of the topics that evoked emotions of happiness, sadness and anger.

The following is a selection of readers letters - the most read from each month of 2020.


JANUARY - How dare the Echo highlight poor food hygiene rating?

I would like to comment regarding the article in The Daily Echo on 14th January regarding the alleged 'grimy' conditions for food storage at Romsey Town Football Club.

The Health Inspector's report apparently highlighted numerous misdemeanours but also strangely enough commented that the report was not made when food was being served.

In my capacity as Chairman of a non league football club and also a non league football fan, I would like to say that I have visited Romsey FC a fair few times in the last five years and I have always been impressed with the standard of their match day food.

Not only the food served to supporters during the match but also the post match hospitality food laid on for free for players, officials and visiting club officials like myself.

Daily Echo:

Bear in mind also that the food is cooked and served by volunteers.

Also it makes me very angry indeed that The Echo should devote nigh on a full page report on what is essentially a kitchen that could do with a good clean.

Does The Echo or indeed these so called health inspectors understand how much of a detrimental effect on attendances this could have?

We are now in an era where we have The Premier League swimming in cash with players paid millions balanced with the likes of clubs at our level who struggle to make £50 on match days with sales of hot food and attendances barely reaching 100.

Roy Kingdon Chairman

QK Southampton FC


FEBRUARY - Itchen Bridge toll process needs an urgent review

Having just experienced yet again complete mayhem at the toll booths on the Itchen Bridge when two of the three lanes available became blocked by confused motorists not expecting to be faced with the inability to pay by credit/debit card I would be interested to learn who actually thought this to be remotely anywhere near a good idea?

This is of course coupled with the fact that the machines do not give change and I have seen reference before to people regularly rounding up and using pound coins.

There are also no signs at an appropriate distance beforehand on the Woolston side, nor any at all I believe on Central Bridge side stating the amount of toll.

Large lorries approaching the booths leads locals to head for another queue knowing full well the likely problem which lies ahead for the lorry driver.

Daily Echo: Anger grows over Itchen Bridge charges

Another factor clearly overlooked or just ignored is just how stressful and upsetting it can be for the motorist at the head of the queue faced with an inability to pay by coinage and knowing there is a steady back up of frustrated people behind, many growing increasingly impatient.

The situation is hardly helped by the very slow response when pressing the assistance button.

As a local resident pass carrier I have on occasions stepped forwards to use this to aid individuals stuck at the barrier and the whole toll process needs urgent review.

It is simply not fit for purpose and completely out dated.

In fact it can prove an unwanted catalyst to road rage incidents.

John Elderkin


MARCH - Why don't they extend 50mph speed limit to all of M27?

I read reporter James Robinson’s Echo report of Monday, March 2 with interest about the 50 mph speed restrictions in place on the M27 near Southampton.

The speed limit from junction 3 towards junction 5 goes from 50 mph to 70 mph then back to 50 mph.

In my opinion it would be safer and make sense to enforce the 50 mph for the entire stretch of the M27 .

Daily Echo:

On the subject on motoring in the south why does Southampton not have a park and ride scheme like our neighbours in Winchester and Portsmouth.

In fact, doesn’t Winchester have two?

There is a saying it’s never too late so let’s put the wheels in motion for our own park and ride in Southampton

Derek Caplen



APRIL - Why have the garden centres closed during lockdown?

Before we had these health problems in our country the subject of mental health disorders was on the increase.

It was also an accepted and confirmed from research that gardening was of immense benefit, so why on earth have the garden centres closed down during this devastating time in our history?

I would think in the lockdown more isolation is causing depression especially for the people who work hard all week and have little time to do house improvements, or tending their gardens.

Now they have time they do not have the luxury of garden centres or DIY stores for supplies.

Daily Echo:

The supermarkets have been brilliant putting in procedures to protect the communities they serve the above mentioned stores could do the same.

This is not good enough I should think after working hard to make ends meet and then given all this time will cause more mental health problems through stress and too much time to ponder escalating the situation.

You might say we have access online to all these companies.

Well trust me, there are more people than you realise who do not have this facility.

Christine Cassell


MAY - Has Lewis Hamilton moved to Southampton?

Has Lewis Hamilton and Seb Vettel moved to Southampton?

Now you have to be careful when crossing the road or dare I say shopping in the Bargate.

Today walking out came a lunatic on the Itchen bridge.

Daily Echo:

Whilst our police forces are arresting a solitary person on a bench, they should start giving these F1 lunatics a speeding ticket.

They are taking advantage of nearly empty roads.

You lot out there slow down before someone's killed.

Maggie Rickards



JUNE - Southampton has never quite established itself as a really attractive, smart niche regional centre

Over the years the city has seen the failure or decline of shopping, leisure and restaurants in the city centre: Ocean Village, Town Quay, St Mary's and Old Northam, Debenhams, Bargate, High Street, Below Bar,

Guildhall Square, and others have not been the success we all hoped for.

The viability of the proposed new Bargate retail seems to be in doubt.

There has been a steady drift to the west.

The reasons for the decline are not easy to discern.

The city centre lacks a real centre of gravity, there is an unfortunate lack of cohesion, contiguity, linkage, access.

Daily Echo:

Southampton has never quite established itself as a really attractive, smart niche regional centre.

What is the solution?

Floating a new city centre plan the city council speaks of a new Mayflower Quarter.

All the indications are that a city centre needs to be compact, with a centre of gravity, offering the widest range of facilities, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, chiropodists, hairdressers, banks, building societies, estate agents, bookshops, leisure and hospitality of all kinds, and a wide range of display retail shops ( as so much stuff these days is ordered on-line).

There must be plenty of parking, so that shoppers can easily take their bulkier goods home.

Ease of movement, e.g. moving pavements and hop-on-hop-off pedestrian facilities, improves attraction.

As the new city plan emerges it is very much to be hoped that citizens will take the opportunity to come forward with imaginative, constructive and practical ideas for the future of our city centre.

Alec Samuels

West End


JULY - What the council is doing is complete madness

I have been watching with interest the article’s and letters which refer to the creation of bus lanes and cycle lanes in Southampton.

I am generally not against bus/cycles lanes in cities. But what I do object to is the council creating bus and cycle lanes on roads which are not fit for purpose just to appease the Green lobby.

I live in Southampton and travel through Southampton daily.

What the council is doing is complete madness especially on the Bassett Avenue and on the A3024 over Northam Bridge and through Bitterne.

Campaigners want to see more cycle lanes in Southampton

Daily Echo:

All the council is doing is: 

  1. Creating congestion on these roads and when the traffic gets back to normal gridlock which will lead to unacceptable pollution.
  2. Hacking off all regular road users and visitors within the city due to have the congestion.
  3. Making the roads which bus lane and cycle lanes are created dangerous to drive on.
  4. Create another knife in the heart of the Southampton economy who is trying to recover from the pandemic.

Work carried on the A3024 through Thornhill to create bicycle lanes on the payments is admirable. The council has put a lot thought into these cycle lanes on this section road and I would give the council a lot of credit.

The council seems to have abandoned any creditable plan and embarked on a ill thought out scheme which is designed to hack residents off to just for a handful of cyclists.

What the council should be doing is a plan to in cooperate park and ride schemes like most nearby cities like Winchester.

C Dunn



AUGUST - Ex Southampton mayor took 66 minutes to go two miles

ON FRIDAY afternoon I picked up someone from Portsmouth Road to take them to Southampton General Hospital.

Having had a bad trip getting there from Shirley we came back a different way via Portswood down Highfield Lane. We joined this at 3.08 pm. At 3.20pm were at the junction with Highfield Road.

Sometimes we never moved, when lights changed, mostly when we did move it was cars turning around to leave the queue.

During one of the long stationary periods my friend got out and counted as far as possible front and back, there were 40 cars lined up.

I shut off at times but often pumped out my pollution with the best, it was a calm day, trees heavy with leaves.

Daily Echo:

I could see the Avenue at 3.40pm so I saw what happened, four times we did not move because the cars in Avenue blocked the junction either going up or down the Avenue.

I exited Highfield Lane at 3.52pm, traffic both ways as far as one could see with no movement, Burgess Road was okay but then took until 4.14pm to get to the hospital because Winchester Road was blocked.

The only cyclist we saw came across from Burgess Road on to Common.

Obviously they know to stay away from cycle lanes.

One hour and six minutes to get, is it two miles?

It seems there is no need to stop parking in town as the cars will never get there.

P.S. My friend is unable to use public transport.

Edwina Cooke

Mayor 2005/2006


SEPTEMBER - I will pay licence fee when I am paid what I am due

Can I urge all over 75s not to pay the £175.50 licence fee.

Until we are paid the basic state pension which we paid into and earned.

Basic state pension 20200-2021 is £175 per week for over 75?

Basic state pension is £135 per week.

It changed four years ago - but we all paid in.

I will pay the license fee when I am paid what I am due.

All 75s are £40 per week short.

This is down to Boris & Co not the BBC.

Daily Echo:

We the over 75s have more than paid our dues and I feel we have been cheated.

Every year we get less.

This may be the last chance to put this right.

Pay the £40 per week we are all owed and very few of us would have to go cap in hand and claim credit.

That is what the new rate was meant to do.

Remember Boris & Co not BBC.

A Bartlett, Bishopstoke, Eastleigh.


OCTOBER - Why can't we adopt a rescue dog?

The RSPCA announce Adoptober.


It highlights an increase in demand for dogs, especially puppies, during lockdown coupled with a rise in welfare incidents and that post covid they expect a big rise in abandoned dogs.

But that's then, not now.

There are no dogs available for adoption from the RSPCA or any other reputable rescue centre.

Daily Echo:

Where are the dogs they want us to adopt?

Rescue homes (Including Battersea) are still closed to visitors and all claim a shortage of dogs.

Apart from a few less popular ones (wrong breed, too big or old, behaviour issues, etc) there are none - not even a "Heinz 57".

We retired just as Covid broke and been trying to get a small young dog ever since.

I refuse to pay ridiculous covid-inflated prices, but quite happy to pay a rescue charity.

If only I could.

Phil Woodward



NOVEMBER - Southampton Airport runway plan will not end planet

So a few more metres of runway at Southampton airport are to bring an end to planet A, as we have no planet B, say the Green Party.

You cannot have life on earth without CO2, because CO2 is the basic ingredient of the metabolic pathway that is the basis of life on earth - photosynthesis.

It is the source of the carbon based lifeform we all are.

CO2 along with water, plus sunlight, are the basic ingredients of life on earth.

Every carbon element that makes up our carbon-based bodies comes from CO2.

Carbon forms the backbone of every protein, fat, and DNA molecule that makes up life.

Daily Echo:

All of which comes from CO2.

Photosynthesis is quite literally the source of energy that powers life on earth.

It does it by metabolically transforming CO2 and water into sugar, life's first stage energy storage molecule.

This metabolic chemical pathway can only run by adding energy to the input side of photosynthesis using chlorophyll (the ' green ' catalyst in the environment). This added energy comes from sunlight.

Photosynthesis is also life's metabolic pathway that build and replenish the 20% free oxygen necessary for animal life on earth to exist.

Animals, including us, only live by either eating plants, eating animals that eat plants or eating animals that eat animals.

This is ecology, the science of the web of life on earth.

Ecology is part of biology, the basic science of life.

Dave Christian



DECEMBER - Southampton airport flight path blights lives

Amid all the confusion over claims Southampton Airport will go out of business "with the loss of 2000 jobs" and it now asking to delay the planning decision while it submits further information, I thought it would be interesting to look at some figures comparing Southampton with Gatwick.

An unfair comparison?

Gatwick is much bigger and has seven times as many air traffic movements, 15 times as many passengers, supports 17 times as many on-site jobs, spends 44 times as much money in the local area and contributes 15 times as much to the economy generally compared with what Southampton is offering post expansion.

Yet despite being so much smaller, at Southampton four times as many people will be exposed to aircraft noise than at Gatwick.

The figures show that Gatwick supports 2.5 on-site jobs for every person impacted by noise; at Southampton 32 people suffer noise for every one person who has a job.

Daily Echo:

We are being offered a very bad deal.

And "noise insulation" for a small percentage of homes won't mitigate this, especially as it will do nothing for people who wish to sit in their gardens or enjoy the local green open spaces that were found so valuable during lockdown.

Perhaps rather than expanding an airport whose flight path blights the lives of many thousands of local people we should be looking at how we can create 2000 jobs in greener industries.

And if it's really about survival rather than expansion, then to minimise the impact on local people and the environment, perhaps the airport should offer to cap passenger numbers at 2019 levels if it gets its runway extension.

Notes: Gatwick figures taken from their 2019 Masterplan: 280,700 ATMs (air traffic movements), 46m passengers/year, 23,800 jobs, £132m spent in local economy, £4.1bn GVA (gross value added. Noise figures from EBC environmental health planning response: 10450 people exposed above 51dB.

Southampton figures taken from planning application: 39,500 ATMS, 3m passengers/year, 1400 on-site jobs (note that the “2000 jobs” includes those induced in the wider economy – not included in the Gatwick figures), £3m spent in local economy, £275 GVA, 46000 people exposed above 51dB.

Angela Cotton