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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Drugs clinic ‘could force customers out of Workington'

Controversial plans for a drug and alcohol clinic in Workington town centre have been recommended for approval, despite claims by shopkeepers that businesses will suffer.

The Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust wants to open the service in an empty shop unit in Finkle Street.

Objections have been lodged by Richard James, of Richard James Newsagents, Judith Marsh, owner of Treats, and Andrew Nelson, owner and director of Craig Travel.

Mr Nelson has threatened to move his business, which he has owned for five years, to a neighbouring town if plans get the go-ahead.

His letter to Allerdale council said: “Workington town centre has worked hard to reduce crime, and make the shopping experience much more pleasurable. I would hate to see that put to waste.

“Some customers have indicated they may consider booking their holidays outside Workington if the proposed centre went ahead.”

He said that a move could result in the loss of jobs.

Mr James, who started a petition in June, said in his letter that the new clinic and a potential loss of CCTV cameras in the town would create “open season for more trouble.”

He added: “Surely it is not worth taking the risk of damaging what is left of the town centre trade.”

Allerdale council has received 22 letters of objection from business owners and residents.

They are concerned that the treatment centre, which would include a needle exchange for drug addicts, could lead to a rise in crime, increased drug use and discarded needles.

They claimed it would be “intimidating” for elderly residents at nearby Brow Top and Ladies Walk and create a poor impression of the town.

Workington and District Civic Trust said the scheme would be an “unneighbourly development”.

In a letter to the council, Doreen Martin, of Brow Top, said the development was “totally inappropriate”.

However, the health trust said there was a proven need for the service and that fears were “ill-founded”.

Data from the Cumbria Drug and Alcohol Action Team said the number of Allerdale area people in treatment accounted for 20 per cent of the county total.

Allerdale council officers have recommended that the plans are approved by its development panel next Tuesday

They say a central location allows for ease of access and that objections raised are not a reason for refusal.

The health trust said the clinic would allow people access to support services locally instead of having to travel to Whitehaven.

It said that bins would be provided to safely dispose of needles and to encourage drug users to behave responsibly.

Rachael Armstrong, senior planner for the trust, said it provided alcohol and drug services in town centres across the north west including Salford, Wigan, Preston and Chorley.

She said: “None of the aforementioned locations have reported an increase in crime or anti-social behaviour.”

She said the Finkle Street building was the “only suitable” premises for the clinic.

Workington Community Hospital had been ruled out because the health trust believed that “normalisation” was key to recovery for addicts.

An inquiry had also been made about renting the former town hall, in Oxford Street, but it was not available.

Have your say

Why can it not be placed in quieter area where ALL shoppers do not have to endure it?
Say near the police station where they can be nicked easier if there is trouble.
In full public view is not a good advertisement for Workington, who will go shopping where drug addicts loiter?

Posted by Andy on 14 August 2012 at 13:09

If there is going to be drug use in the area anyway (which there is, and denial of it will not help in any way!) then providing a place that offers counselling as well as ensuring that addicts are able to take drugs safely if they're going to do it. Think about it - would you rather someone shoot up and leave their dirty needles behind a bus shelter, where kids could find them or step on them and risk cross infection, or would you rather there be a facility for the safe disposal of dirty needles and provision of clean needles which present a much lower risk of cross infection? This kind of initiative will serve only to help those that need it in the area.

Posted by Sabina on 14 August 2012 at 10:22

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