RESIDENTS today hit back at claims a £4,700 cash payout will put lives at risk on their estate.
Coun Tony Williams, deputy leader of the Conservative party on Blackpool Council, warned this week of the consequences of handing tenants on the Queens Park high rise estate the displacement payment if they were addicts.
Around 459 payments are due to be made to people who will have to move out of their homes to make way for the redevelopment of the estate in Layton.
Gwen King, chairman of the Queens Park Residents Association, today accused Coun Williams of going too far in claiming the move was tantamount to a death sentence.
She said; “We have worked together with the police and many, many other agencies and have spent years turning this estate around to be a fully inclusive community irrespective of how people choose to lead their lives and we respect this view.
“Yes, we do have a small minority of people living on our estate who have drink or drugs issues, but the majority have support.
“There will be a full support package put into place once residents start to be decanted, covering removal, bank accounts and many, many other issues so no-one will be left out.
“If these people do have issues, then it is up to support workers to try and encourage them to act responsibly and give them some help, advice and guidance, but you cannot force these people to engage.”
Mrs King added: “Our estate and its residents have been continually ignored over the years and we feel this is a slur against our residents and we have been inundated today with residents who are extremely angry.”
Coun Williams, whose fears were supported by Blackpool-based psychotherapist and drugs counsellor Steven Pope, said he was aware not everyone on the estate was an addict.
He said: “I was in no way inferring everyone who lives on the estate has dependency issues and if that’s what people thought then I apologise to them.
“However, I stand by my concerns and have very personal experiences of how drugs can ruin lives. Mr Pope is a drug counsellor on Queens Town and he also recognises there is indeed a problem which must be addressed.”