Residents and community leaders have defended Southampton with beliefs that the controversial Immigration Street TV programme has given the city a bad reputation.
Last night the show was aired on Channel 4, giving viewers an impression of life in the Derby Road area. Since plans for the documentary were announced 10 months ago, they have been met with protests and campaigning from residents to get the series axed, concerned it would misrepresent their road’s community.
Those behind the episode, originally planned to be a longer 6 episode series, stated that they considered it to be a “fair representation and reflection” of the lives of those living on the street.
However, MPs, councillors and local residents still seem unconvinced, united in the belief that it has represented Southampton negatively.
Hampshire police’s offer to Channel 4 to report any offences committed against film crews during the making of the programme have recently been renewed to enable their investigation. No allegations have yet been claimed but the renewed offer has caused frustrations of locals and community leaders to resurface.
Implications of the area to be violent were initially implied through the episode by a man threatening TV crews that, unless they left, they would be shot. Producers also spoke of further violence directed at them, demanded £200,000 to keep them from danger and claimed that extra security had to be brought in to ensure the safety of staff.
City MP Alan Whitehead has led criticism that the alleged violence has unfairly represented Southampton, explaining how: “That’s not the real Southampton.”
“That’s not representative of even half a per cent of the hard-working and reasoned opposition to the programme from residents, and it certainly doesn’t represent the city either.
“That is not our city.”Alan Whitehead MP
Community leaders backing Dr Whitehead’s views include Simon Letts, Southampton’s city council leader who said: “I don’t think anyone would applaud the throwing of eggs and the other activities, there’s a way of opposing things without resorting to violence.
“It is however a small minority – it’s not our city.”
Furthermore, city councilor and cabinet member Satvir Kaur said: “I think it is quite disappointing that they made themselves out to be a victim when actually this community was the victim.”
“They linked crime and violence with this community. Not once did they report that to the police. None of us in the community condone that violence. They basically just showed that they value good TV over community safety.”
Secretary of the Medina Mosque and member of the Southampton Council of Faiths, Rashid Brora, described the film as a “non-event”, stating “I don’t agree with the violence because that is not what this area is about.”
Yet Channel 4 continues to disagree with the general views of community leaders, a spokesman saying: “We felt the programme in its entirety was a fair representation and reflection of the lives of the individuals on the streets.
“If we had had the opportunity to film all six episodes obviously we would have shown more people and more different aspects of life on Derby Road.
“We are not saying in any way that this individual is in any way representative of the vast majority who live in the street.”