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27 August 2015 

Residents attending the New Ferry Residents Association's Annual General Meeting last night gave a resounding thumbs down to the proposed Drug and Alcohol Counselling Centre being located in the heart of New Ferry's struggling district centre.

Due to budget cuts imposed on the Council by the current government, the existing centre located in St. Catherine's Health Centre in Tranmere is being privatised and relocated out into the community.  Last winter there was uproar when social care and health charity CRI chose Station House - right next to Grove Street - to set up the Wirral Integrated Recovery Service providing substance misuse and counselling service in New Ferry.  After a vigourous campaign led by local campaigner Warren Ward, the plans were dropped.

However, CRI have now resurfaced in New Ferry with plans to take over the former Hunter's Furniture store next door to the main post office on New Chester Road.  A planning application has been submitted and will be discussed at a planning meeting before the end of this year.

Once again, residents and businesses are appalled that New Ferry seems to be the preferred location for this service which aims to offer help and support to addicts and alcoholics, but that support will include giving drug addicts "clean" needles to protect themselves against infection from using "used" ones.

Campaigner Warren Ward said at the AGM: "We all agree that such a service is needed - including maybe in New Ferry - but to put it in the heart of a struggling district centre is completely wrong.  Because of the weak local economy, we have a higher than average number of shops vacant and boarded up.  If this centre comes here, more businesses will close and send New Ferry's district centre into further decline as people will not want to come here to shop or open a business if there are more drug addicts and alcoholics hanging around."

One business owner who wished to remain anonymous agreed by saying: "I run a specialised business close to the proposed centre. I attract clients from all over the Wirral including places like Heswall.  One of my clients from Caldy was in my shop a few weeks ago and was horrified to witness a drug addict outside the door, with blood pouring from a wound on his head after having been clearly beaten up be someone, on his phone yelling obscenities at his dealer whilst demanding a fresh supply of drugs.  If this centre comes here, this kind of incident will escalate and I will be closing my shop and moving it to a nicer part of Wirral."

New Ferry Residents Association Chair, Mark Anthony Craig, said: "The planning committee seriously needs to consider the implications of allowing such a centre to open in New Ferry's District Centre. We cannot risk turning businesses away, or deterring people from coming here to shop.  New Ferry has declined so much in the last few years.  The ban on drinking alcohol in the district centre may have worked, but you can't help but notice the blatant smoking of cannabis in the streets".

The planning application will be considered by the Council's planning committee later this year.  You can view the application yourself.  Click on this link to be taken to the application on Wirral Council's website:

Although the "consultation period" for the application has officially passed, you can still send your objection to it by writing to the planning officer handling the case.  Remember to quote the planning application number APP/15/00735

Ms J Storey
Planning Department
Wirral Borough Council
Town Hall
Brighton Street
CH44 8ED