Rehab centre will help ‘everyone in Hartlepool’

Walter Cook with the former Registry Office behind him.
Walter Cook with the former Registry Office behind him.
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AN organisation that plans to rehabilitate drug and alcohol-dependent people next door to a social club says “everyone in Hartlepool” will benefit from the service.

Hartlepool Borough Council has sold Hartlepool Register Office to drug and alcohol charity Developing Initiatives and Supporting Communities (DISC), to turn it into a treatment recovery hub.

The news sparked anger from businessman Walter Cook, who recently bought the Engineer’s Social Club next door and criticised the council for not putting the register office on the open market.

Mr Cook said he wanted to make an offer on the register office, known as The Willows building, and plans to contact watchdogs at the Local Government Ombudsman to question the sale process.

Now DISC, which has worked across the North of England for 30 years providing services which support people to make positive changes to their lives, says it made a fair offer to the council after following the “due process”.

A DISC spokesman said: “As a not-for-profit organisation, we were awarded a grant from Public Health England to support people who have recovered from alcohol and drug misuse and wish to move-on and build new lives.

“Our drop-in ‘hub’ will provide advice and support enabling people to move forward in a positive way and is a model which we have successfully operated in both Lancashire and Hull.

“We initially approached Hartlepool Borough Council to discuss the potential use of The Willows for the hub back in May.

“As a community facility that had accommodated similar services previously, it was agreed to be an appropriate site.

“DISC made a fair offer to acquire the property, which was accepted by the council after following their due process. Being in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is an important period in people’s lives and with the continued positive support from the local community, by encouraging anyone in Hartlepool who is working to address their addiction, everyone in Hartlepool will benefit from the services being provided.

“DISC and the local volunteers who will work at the centre look forward to putting something back into the community.”

The hub will provide opportunities for service users, their families and the wider community, as well as providing a range of information and advice on issues such as housing, employment, training and education.

The spokesman added: “Our commitment to Hartlepool will continue, to ensure we deliver a first class drug and alcohol recovery service to everyone who needs it, and welcome anyone who would like to volunteer to work alongside other caring individuals to make sure this service is a success.”

The council said last week that the sale represents the true market price and the deal is a great chance to bring an empty building back into use, bringing a desperately needed service to the town.