CAMPAIGNERS vowed to continue their battle after city council chiefs voted to closed Kentish Road respite centre in Shirley, Southampton. Conservative councillor Peter Baillie described it as “the worst decision I have seen the council make in 15 years”. He said the adults with disabilities who used the centre were the most vulnerable people in our society. Campaigners also complained that no transition arrangements had been made for the people who used Kentish Road, but that was denied. Council leader Simon Letts gave his “personal commitment” that 32B – a smaller building on the Kentish Road site – would be open “very early in the new year and added he would ask carers to “co-design” the centre. Campaigners said it was “the end of the road” for legal action but that they would continue to campaign.

SOUTHAMPTON was set to welcome a “Mediterranean masterpiece” as it was revealed that MSC Cruises’ huge £800 million MSC Preziosa ship would be based in the port from 2019. The 3,502-passenger ship, which was launched in 2013, will split its time between Southampton and Kiel in Germany. It will offer ten-night cruises to the Baltic in the spring and autumn. MSC Preziosa features sweeping Swarovski crystal grand staircases, a magical infinity pool, health spa, theatre, casino, nightclub and a plethora of bars and restaurants. Each cruise ship turnaround is estimated to be worth between £1 million and £2 million to the area’s economy. Port and business bosses welcomed the news.

THE Killers, Kasabian, Liam Gallagher and Depeche Mode will headline next year’s 50th anniversary Isle of Wight Festival, it was revealed. The Script, Van Morrison, Blossoms and James Bay will also perform at the event in June 2018, which will celebrate 50 years since the festival’s first incarnation. The festival returns to Seaclose Park in Newport from June 21 to 24.

THE chief executive of Southampton City Council was to step down from her six-figure post. Dawn Baxendale has decided to leave after more than four-and-a-half years in the role to join the biggest local authority in the country, Birmingham. Council leader Simon Letts said it showed the strides Southampton City Council had made over the past few years that the largest local authority in western Europe had come to headhunt its chief executive. Ms Baxendale was promoted to the chief executive position at the council in 2013 from her role as director of environment and economy, a position she held for four years. She was paid between £148,272 and £176,087 and will leave on April 1, 2018.

SOUTHAMPTON City Council revealed plans to scrap toll charges on the Itchen Bridge – but only for electric vehicles. Environmental chiefs plan to introduce a new toll category for eco-friendly motorists, allowing them to cross the pay-per-use bridge for free. The move could save the average daily commuter around £250 per year. It is also forecast to cost the authority around £32,000 each year in lost revenue. But civic chiefs say the scheme could save the council millions of pounds in fines, which it faces if it does not slash the city’s dangerously high pollution levels.

THE full fall-out from Southampton’s controversial bins shake-up was laid bare in an official report. Six months after the scheme was brought in, refuse bosses told how fly-tipping has shot up and the number of complaints about pests had doubled. It comes as the city’s alternate waste collection service faced its toughest challenge yet as bins begin to fill up with Christmas waste and recycling and collection dates were reorganised. Civic bosses vowed to take action to improve the service after the report into the first six months of the scheme revealed that 48 per cent of Southampton residents complained that their bins were either full or overflowing. Waste bosses also admitted an increase in fly-tipping by 100 bags per month, while the total number of rodent and pest complaints doubled. The move will reportedly save the authority £800,000 a year.

DEVELOPERS hit back after planners rejected a second application to bulldoze a Hampshire hotel that was partly designed by Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle. PegasusLife criticised the New Forest National Park Authority for refusing an application for more than 70 retirement apartments and 15 affordable homes at the Lyndhurst Park Hotel.

SOUTHAMPTON was revealed as the most generous city in the UK when it comes to giving to charity. The average kind-hearted Sotonian gives more than £140 each year to good causes, a staggering £40 more than the standard Briton. It helped the city climb the top of the generosity table, above second placed Liverpool, whose residents give an average of £120 per person.The data was collected in a survey of 2,000 people from across the UK.