Immigration Street meeting sees local residents demand producers 'go away' and Channel 4 scrap planned series

People are angry at plans after last year's hugely controversial Benefits Street

Southampton residents have made their thoughts on planned Channel 4 show Immigration Street clear, by telling producers to “get out” of their community at a meeting last night.

More than 80 people living on the “targeted” Derby Road met at Maytree Primary School to put their concerns to Kieran Smith, Love Productions’ creative director, but the discussion soon turned heated.

Smith was booed upon entering the room and was met with anger throughout the evening, according to regional newspaper the Daily Echo.

Some residents brought banners reading “go away” to hold up in an effort to voice their disapproval at a “diverse and harmonious” area being brought into what they see as disrepute.

Channel 4 have responded to a request for comment in light of the meeting and confirmed that filming will continue.

"Anyone who does not want to be in the series won't be but we intend to continue to film with residents who are very happy to share their experience of living on Derby Road," a spokesperson told The Independent.

The documentary is set to air in 2015 but residents are anxious of being portrayed in a similar light to those who featured on last year's controversial Benefits Street, about people living on James Turner Street in Birmingham.

Channel 4 was accused of misrepresenting residents in Benefits Street, who claimed they were persuaded to take part in the series after being told it would highlight the positive community spirit of their road.

Questions were raised in the Houses of Parliament over allegations that the show vilified those on the breadline, after Ofcom received nearly 1,800 complaints.

Love Productions has been filming in Derby Road for the past few months but pressure is mounting from local people to bring a halt to proceedings.

Smith tried to reassure residents that anyone filmed would be able to watch the footage before it was broadcast, but admitted that he did not have the power to stop the show from going ahead.

“I have no idea what it would take,” he said. “The fact remains that we have many people who are very happy to be involved. It would be a discussion between myself and Channel 4 but I have to consult with Channel 4.

“At this point all I can say is I came here to listen to people. I’m not going to make any sort of decision tonight.”

 

Smith insisted that Immigration Street producers would not pay anyone involved or put pressure on vulnerable people.

But the residents remained unconvinced. One opposer accused the company of “inciting racism” while another argued that the stigma the show will bring to the community will “go on for a generation”.

Local Labour MP Alan Whitehead said recently that the Immigration Street team need to make sure they “know what they are talking about”.

“The vast majority of people living on Derby Road may not be white, but they are British and have been here for generations,” he said.

A request for comment from Channel 4 regarding the future of Immigration Street has not yet been returned.

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