By Marlies Koutstaal, Director
Sixty days since the local elections in May, and Southampton City Council’s new Conservative administration has hit the ground running. Led by Councillor Daniel Fitzhenry, the group has been keen to get off on a good start, implementing a number of election manifesto pledges from the get-go.
Under the campaign slogan “Get Southampton Moving”, several measures have already been realised. Car parking charges in the city centre are scrapped on weekdays after 6pm and all day on Sunday. Coupled with the Government’s plans to lift Covid-19 restrictions, the Tories are hoping people will be encouraged back into the City centre which will boost its beleaguered leisure, hospitality and nightlife sectors, helping them recover from the pandemic. The change took effect on the 21st of June and will last until the 19th of July.
Local businesses and entertainment venues, such as theatres which have reopened since the end of June, have responded positively to the Council’s policy, hoping that reduced charges will draw people in.
The Council has also decided to allow the renowned Southampton Boat Show to not only go ahead but expand its offering this year, bringing in even higher visitor numbers than before. The event is held annually in September and in 2019 contributed £31m to the local economy.
In a move to undo the previous Labour administration’s car free zones, the Conservatives have announced that Bedford Place, a key retail and leisure area in the city centre, will be reopened for motorised traffic from 19th July. The street had been pedestrianised since August last year as part of the council’s efforts to improve air quality, create space for outdoor seating to support the hospitality industry and create a more enjoyable street scene for shoppers. There had been a mixed response from local retailers and food & drink venues, with some supporting the idea and others calling on the road to be reopened.
On Monday 12th July at 4.30pm, Cllr Fitzhenry is talking to Cratus to set out what else the new administration is planning to get Southampton moving again. If you would like to hear more on what the Leader and his team have in store for the local economy, the reinvigoration of the high street, regeneration projects and much more, please join us! Questions by the audience will be answered by the Leader and his Deputy, Cllr Jeremy Moulton. The event is held live on Zoom, you can register here. We are looking forward to it and hope you can join us.