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Objections to drug and alcohol clinic plan for Workington town centre building

Plans for a drug and alcohol clinic in the heart of Workington have been recommended for approval.

Drug clinic photo
The premises in Finkle Street

Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW) wants to open the service in an empty shop unit in Finkle Street close to the £120 million shopping centre.

But 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 surge in crime, increased drug use and discarded needles in the town centre.

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

However, GMW insists that there is a proven need for the service in Allerdale and that the fears were “ill-founded”.

According to data collected by the Cumbria Drug and Alcohol Action Team (CDAAT), the number of people in treatment in Allerdale accounts for 20 per cent of the county total.

Officers have recommended that the plans are approved when they go before the development panel next Tuesday

They said that the central location allowed for ease of access for all and that the objections raised were not a reason for refusal.

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

She adds: “Are we going to find alcoholics, drug users and needles in the lanes, which could be very frightening for residents of Brow Top and Derwent Street?”

Local business owners have also objected amid concerns it could affect trade.

Richard James of Richard James Newsagents, the owner of New Peking Express and Judith Marsh, the owner of Treats and Andrew Nelson, owner and director of Craig Travel, have all objected.

Mr Nelson is so concerned that he has threatened to pull out of Workington altogether were the plans to get the go-ahead.

In his letter he said: “Some of my customers have indicated they may consider booking their holidays outside Workington if the proposed centre went ahead.”

The Workington and District Civic Trust has also objected on the grounds that the scheme would be an “unneighbourly development”.

But GMW have said that clinic would allow Allerdale residents to access support services locally instead of having to travel to Whitehaven.

It has stressed that “sharp bins” would be provided to safely dispose of needles and to encourage drug users to behave responsibly.

Rachael Armstrong, a senior planner speaking on behalf of GMW, said: “GMW provides alcohol and drug services in town centres across the north west region, including Salford, Wigan, Preston and Chorley.

“From its experience, offering drug and alcohol services in accessible locations increases the number of people who seek help to address their substance misuse.

“None of the aforementioned locations have reported an increase in crime or antisocial behaviour as a result of GMW providing drug and alcohol recovery clinics.”

She said that 6 Finkle Street was the “only suitable” premises for the clinic. Workington hospital had already been ruled out because GMW believe that “normalisation” was key to recovery.

Inquiries were also made into renting the former Town Hall but it was not available.

Have your say

Can someone explain why this is being run by a trust from Manchester and not our own health trust ?

Posted by John on 16 August 2012 at 05:52

why do we throw good money into helping these people,its there own fault,so why help them.this countries to soft.

Posted by robert on 15 August 2012 at 16:29

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