SOUTHAMPTON has everything going for it as far as its future economic prosperity is concerned.

So says the vice-chair of GO! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District.

First established in 2017, the organisation is seeking a further five-year term from 2022-2027 to support Southampton’s city-centre business community with an investment of £6.5m.

The ballot takes place between 14 October and 11 November and some 637 businesses are eligible to vote.

GO! Southampton has four themes which they base their work around.

They are:

  • Stronger Business
  • Culture, Events and Partnerships
  • Better Marketing
  • A Greater City Centre Experience.

Today we look at the first of these, Stronger Business.

Daily Echo: City Networking. Credit: Katie HatchCity Networking. Credit: Katie Hatch

Vice chair of GO! Southampton and partner at transatlantic law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson Nick Barwood, said: “We’ve got a track record of making things happen. GO! Southampton has made a huge contribution to the city and local businesses over the past five years.

“Something that was distinctive about GO! Southampton when it started was that people around the board table were not just concerned about the prettification of the city centre, they wanted to take a more strategic view of the opportunities for business.

One of the cities that GO! Southampton has taken inspiration from, at an early stage, is the Dutch port of Rotterdam.

“There are many similarities between Southampton and Rotterdam in terms of history and topography but the Dutch port is a little way ahead of us in forming itself into a truly modern city and business destination.

“When we visited we were quite awestruck by some of the things that have been achieved there, particularly the way people approach the challenge of city-making and refuse to accept any barriers to their ambition.

“We have as much going for us as Rotterdam. In fact much more of our heritage survived the war. But our fear of taking risks and being bold sometimes holds us back.

“GO! Southampton is committed to making the city an inspiring future business destination and hopes its members will back it with a second five-year term.”

Daily Echo: Outdoor dining in Carlton Place. Credit: Katie HatchOutdoor dining in Carlton Place. Credit: Katie Hatch

Rotterdam has a powerful brand called Make it Happen.

“We think the people of Southampton have a very similar mindset. They want to get things done,” said Mr Barwood.

The transformation of the Mayflower Quarter is “a once in a generation opportunity” for a new Central Business District (CBD)with a mix of types of employment spaces.

He said: “We want the young entrepreneurs and we also want the corporates that have departed the city over the last 30 years. Younger workers do not want to be banished to soulless business parks. They want to work in exciting buzzy cities.”

Mr Barwood said it was not out of the question that Southampton and the Solent region could become the Silicon Valley of the UK given the brilliant talent coming out of the two universities.

“One of our key priorities is to find a pathway in the city for young entrepreneurs to set up their businesses and also enable us to hold onto our incredible graduates.”

He believes Freeport status could be “a game-changer” and that significant investment in mass transit (perhaps via the existing Southampton - Eastleigh - Fareham triangle) is vital. And he said transformation of the high street was long overdue.

“It’s no secret we would like to see Above Bar Street pedestrianised from bottom to top, establishing something like Las Ramblas in Barcelona and helping to connect Guildhall Square to the rest of the city centre.”

He added: “We really do have everything to play for in this great city.”

Daily Echo: Window vinyl. Credit: Richard ChiversWindow vinyl. Credit: Richard Chivers


  • Postal ballot will take place from the 14 October to 11 November 2021
  • Businesses in the city centre (BID area) should receive the ballot papers in the post by 14 October 2021
  • Return your completed ballot papers by 11 November 2021 by 5pm
  • Further details go to
  • Vote YES for GO! Southampton