Immigration Street?

The very name is likely to cause a shudder down the spine.

It’s the title, at least the working title, of a new programme planned by the same TV company that created Benefits Street.

That Channel 4 docu-soap caused a furore by poking a lens into the lives of residents living on a street in Birmingham.

Unfair and cruel, said some commentators. Accurate and worrying said others.

It made some of its ‘stars’, well, stars for a short period at least.

Now Derby Road in Southampton may be the next focus of national attention. The company say no decision has been made whether to go ahead, but some residents have revealed they are already being followed by film crews.

Cue local MP Alan Whitehead and the city council to issue dire warnings over social unrest and giving the city a bad name.

And while I too have reservations – you don’t have to be in TV to understand how these matters can be manipulated, stories edited to create controversy – I wonder if we fear too much.

Those taking part that this paper interviewed are happy to do so and deny taking money to do so.

And putting aside the debate on freedom of speech and expression – for all its mutterings the City Council cannot prevent filming – what do we have to hide?

Southampton isn’t perfect as a host city for immigrants, but on the whole the communities appear to get along well.

Or do the film makers know something we do not? If so, it’s in everyone’s interest to find out.

The open debate that Immigration Street is bound to start might be all for the good. Perhaps.