Drugs charity chief seeks to allay concerns

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THE chief executive of a drink and drugs charity looking to open in Bury St Edmunds says it will not become a needle exchange.

Sarah Wright, from Open Road, also said there would not be medication or prescribing of drugs on the premises.

She was responding to objections to the charity’s plans to open a centre in Risbygate Street.

Paul Hopfensperger, chairman of the Risbygate Street Traders Association, said: “The last thing that we want is drug users from all over Suffolk getting stoned outside the building and distributing used needles all up and down the street.

“There are schoolchildren and college students walking up and down the street constantly who run the risk of being abused if this is allowed to go through.

“This type of building should be sited on an industrial estate, not in the town centre. To locate it right next to Focus 12, who do so much good work to get people clean, is also quite astonishing.”

Several residents and businesses raised similar concerns. They said it could have a ‘detrimental effect’ on neighbouring drink and drugs charity Focus 12, which has a policy of abstinence.

But Ms Wright said: “There is no needle exchange provision envisaged for the centre.

“The people accessing our services are already stabilised and/or abstinent in regards to their drug misuse.

“They are not the potential chaotic drug-use client group that residents may quite rightly be concerned about.”

She said there would be no medication or prescribing on the premises – clients will instead receive advice, counselling and complementary therapies.

Open Road will take over the Suffolk (DAAT) Drug and Alcohol Team contract from Focus 12 from April. Simon Aalders, Suffolk DAAT co-ordinator, said he was confident there would be ‘minimal disruption to any residents in the area’.