We don't want drug centre on doorstep

CAMPAIGNERS have sent a defiant message to bosses of a controversial drug and alcohol treatment centre – "You're not welcome here.

Protesters have vowed to fight against resurrected plans to move the centre on to their doorstep.

Addaction has resurfaced with proposals to move its facility centre on Edward Street in Blackpool on to Whitegate Drive – despite neighbours' successful battle against a similar scheme last year.

The charity will move into Fylde Coast Medical Services following the relocation of the out-of-hours GP service to the new Urgent Care Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

But the proposals have sparked outrage among neighbours, traders and councillors who fear it will turn Whitegate Drive into the "drug centre" of Blackpool.

Coun Ron Bell, Talbot ward councillor, said: "It's absolutely disgraceful.

"I would totally oppose it moving on to Whitegate Drive, it's not an appropriate place for this type of service.

"We are trying to protect the local shops as it is.

"I'm not going to take this one lying down.

"We fought a long, hard campaign only six months ago.

"Addaction is fully aware of the level of upset this has created among residents and this seems to be a very cynical method of backdoor entry."

Blackpool Council say Addaction did not have to apply for planning permission for change of use because it is moving into a building already used for medical facilities.

Eric Doddemeade, chairman of Belle Vue Neighbourhood Watch and Residents Association and chairman of Blackpool Senior Voice Forum, said: "There was enough uproar last time, there will be even more now.

"We have got a chemist just 100 yards away where people pick up methadone and there are more drug services further down. Whitegate Drive is going to be a drug centre."

And Eddie Fewings, member of the residents association, added: "Everyone is up in arms about it. We are sick of the drug related activity in the area.

"There is a big problem with the community not being consulted."

Traders are also fuming.

Phil Hough, Subway franchisee on Whitegate Drive, said: "We don't want undesirables in the shop.

"I have to think about my young staff and security if it's on our doorstep.

"We should have been consulted."

And Lynne Procter, owner of Lynn's Laundry on Whitegate Drive, said: "They are being very sneaky, there's been no consultation. I wouldn't be very keen."

The charity, which helps people battling drug and alcohol addiction, originally planned to locate to former solicitors' offices in Whitegate Drive.

More than 100 residents signed a petition against the plans and 324 letters were sent in by neighbours against the application and the proposals were turned down by Blackpool Council's development control committee in May last year.

They were then thrown out by a Government planning inspector, who agreed with residents' fear the scheme could lead to an increase in crime.

June Shea, of Bryan Road, on Whitegate Drive, who spearheaded last year's campaign, said: "It's extraordinary they are doing it without consultation.

"We want to preserve Whitegate Drive – it's a vibrant community, behind all the shops it's heavily residential.

"We support the service but they have no control over what happens outside."

Addaction is due to leave its Edward Street premises by July 16 and should be up and running on Whitegate Drive by July 19.

A spokesman for Addaction said: "Addaction is moving into Fylde Coast Medical Services, which has already been involved in drug and alcohol services to continue that service.

"Residents can rest assured we are a highly professional organisation.

"Our clients are committed to coming off drugs.

"There has been drug treatment here and there has been no problem.

"And there will be no problem."