Go-ahead for drugs centre in Cumbrian town centre
Last updated at 12:36, Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Business owners on one of Workington’s main shopping streets fear for their future after plans for a drug and alcohol recovery centre were given the go-ahead.
A huge campaign by shop owners in Finkle Street and nearby residents has been ongoing for months as people say they would be living in fear for their safety as well as their livelihood if the centre were to open.
But their hopes of putting a halt to the plans were shattered as Allerdale councillors agreed a health trust’s proposal for the scheme.
One of the campaigners, Judith Marsh, of Treats Tearoom, said that she was “absolutely disgusted” with the decision and said that her business will be affected when it opens.
“Every one of my customers have said the same. We get the same people day in and day out, week in and week out and I know them well.
“Everyone of them say that they don’t want it in the middle of town. They don’t have anything against a drug centre but they just don’t see why it needs to be in the town centre – it should be on the outskirts.
“A lot of them are older customers, around 70 to 80 years old, and don’t like change. They are frightened about what’s going to happen.”
Richard James, of Richard James Newsagents, launched a petition when plans were first revealed earlier this year. He collected 350 signatures in a matter of days.
He is concerned that if the proposal went ahead, a lot of his customers would shop elsewhere as they would be intimidated by the “type of people hanging around outside”.
And Andrew Nelson, owner of nearby Craig Travel, has even threatened to pull his business out of the town as some of his customers told him they would book holidays elsewhere.
Many of the residents of Brow Top who have previously objected to the plans don’t want to voice their opinion now that the centre will open, for fear of any backlash.
The earmarked premises, 6 Finkle Street, has been empty for three years. It will now become a centre where people can access support to overcome their addictions from doctors, nurses, social workers and occupational therapists.
At yesterday’s meeting, Councillor Carl Holding, representing St Michael’s ward, said most of the people he has spoken to are supportive of the facility, but not of the location.
“The front of the property is on a busy shopping street and the rear is in the residential conservation area of Brow Top,” he added.
“Some have raised that it would be a honeypot for people with addictions and that there might be an increased temptation to shoplift.
“There’s a general fear that people will hang around outside. Some elderly people have said they’d be afraid about going out.”
But Gill Green and Joe Peers, of Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which will open the centre, told the meeting that the trust ran similar centres in other towns and cities without any problems.
Mrs Green, director of operations and nursing, said safety was the trust’s top priority and that CCTV would be installed outside.
She added: “We would like to meet regularly with those who continue to be concerned so that we can monitor progress, deal quickly with any potential problems.”
First published at 11:24, Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk