Row over 'dregs of Hartlepool' remarks as drug and alcohol treatment centre move approved
People in need of drug and alcohol addiction treatment will get help from new ‘high-quality, more accessible’ town centre premises – but the move has been met with opposition from some.
Councillors have unanimously approved the relocation of Hartlepool’s drug and alcohol treatment service from Whitby Street to the One Life Centre in Park Road.
The move comes despite concerns from a Waldon Street residents group over the type of people it could attract to their area, labelling them ‘the dregs of the town’.
Councillors hit out at the comments as the Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee agreed to move the service.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “It’s a fantastic move for the service in Hartlepool to be located in the One Life Centre.
“I take exception to the comments calling anybody who lives in the town as the ‘dregs of the community’.
“I think we should be really proud of the fact that we have excellent services that we are able to put into a centre, so that every person who has the misfortune of having that addiction is given the best chance possible in order to come out of recovery successfully.”
Coun Dave Hunter, ward representative for the area, added: “These are human beings and society has an obligation to help.
“It shows we are trying to look after these people who are trying to do their damnedest to move forward from a very, very difficult position, and there is no way on earth they should be referred to as dregs.”
Council chiefs noted the One Life Centre is ‘high quality clinical standard accommodation in a highly accessible location' while the building in Whitby Street, erected in 2002, is felt no longer fit for purpose due to its layout, internal fit-out and condition.
The representative on behalf of residents of Waldon Street, near to the One Life Centre, said a petition had been drawn up from residents against the move.
He said: “The people in Waldon Street feel the council is riding roughshod over them. We have had no consultation from our ward councillors or anybody else.
“We will have the dregs of the town coming to Waldon Street, drunks and drug addicts.”
The changes include transferring recovery services from The Willows in Raby Road to Gladstone House in Victoria Road, with the new premises expected to be fully operational by March 2.
The premises are larger than the Willows and will offer substance misusers a range of facilities and spaces where they will be able to meet, support one another and receive support from a range of agencies.
Council leader Coun Shane Moore said: “In a recent visit to the general hospital I was stopped by a service user and he couldn’t thank us enough for the changes that we’ve made to the service.
“He thanked us on behalf of a number of service users who were extremely happy with the changes being made and they were very hopeful for the future of the service.”