IT is the last link between a Southampton estate and its suburban neighbours.

But now homeowners in Redbridge want the bridge that connects them to Millbrook destroyed - because they say they're repeatedly targeted by vandals.

The Old Redbridge Residents' Association has been battling to scrap the footbridge over the M271 for three years.

They say they are being terrorised by gangs of vandals who cross the bridge and go on the rampage, starting fires, smashing windows and attacking cars.

Rocks and stones have even been thrown off the bridge at cars on the motorway below.

Now, following the visit of city leader Adrian Vinson to the site, residents have stepped up their campaign.

Nearly 30 people gathered for a demonstration on the bridge - and urged Southampton City Council to take action.

Mervyn Humphreys, chairman of the residents' association, said: "People have seen the youngsters running back over the bridge so we know it's coming from there.

"Thousands of pounds have been spent on dealing with vandalism here. Last year there were 33 fires - 22 of which were arson."

The string of attacks include burglaries, petrol being siphoned from cars, wheelie bins being set on fire and shed break-ins.

Dana Rosice, of Gover Road, even came home once to find a fire engine outside her house after arsonists set fire to her fence.

David Ashley, of Coniston Road, added: "I have even given chase to several kids across this bridge but once they get to the other side you lose them."

The residents say if the link from Gover Road to Studland Road was severed, youngsters would no longer plague the estate because they would have to negotiate a motorway and busy roundabout to reach it.

Councillor Dennis Harryman, who represents the area, said police and fire

officers also wanted to see the bridge blocked for good.

"This has been an ongoing sore for the residents for years," he said. "The police want the bridge closed, the residents want it closed. This isn't something we have a bee in our bonnet about. You don't get moderate, sensible people protesting like this without good reason."

A spokesman from Southampton City Council said the issue would be looked at, but that there were many complications over rights of way.