OVER 200 furious residents have signed a petition slamming "secretive" plans for a drug and alcohol rehab centre in a residential area of Accrington.
East Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PCT) has proposed a £500,000 conversion of the old Peel House Medical Centre, in Avenue Parade, into a substance misuse facility for up to 250 clients.
PCT bosses claim the centre would be good for the area, providing an accessible place for Accrin-gton addicts to reduce their dependency on alcohol and drugs.
But local people fear what will happen when drug addicts congregate in the area.
They claim to have never been notified about the centre, which could be open as early as next spring.
Copies of a 220-signature petition have been sent to Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe, Peel ward councillors Graham Jones and Bernard Dawson, the PCT and housing bosses.
The petition states: "This is a residential area. We, the residents, have never been informed by letter that this centre would be compulsorily forced upon us. We demand that such a centre should be placed in or near an appropriate non-residential area."
Based on the existing Burnley House model, the day centre would be open from 9am to 6pm and would also provide other health services such as sexual health care, vaccinations and check-ups.
Drinking and drug-taking would not be permitted on the premises and no drugs would be kept on site.
Resident Shabir Siddiq, who has three children, felt that the centre was a "fait accompli" and was worried about the impact on the neighbourhood.
He said: "I think the issue has already been decided and what we need to do is look at how we can affect what will happen after that.
"They’ve got security cameras inside but what about security outside? They say there will be no drugs on the premises but it’s the perception of users who think drugs might be there. Where will they go to socialise?"
Another resident, Peter Norc-liffe, said: "We’re not against the idea but the location. A lot of people round here have got young children and at half past three they’re out playing on the streets."
Nick Murray recently opened a new small business on Avenue Parade, unaware of the plans.
He said: "I think it’s an inappropriate place to have this facility - a residential area when there are children playing on a daily basis.
"People will be going there for one of three things – drink, drugs or sexual diseases – and everyone will know that. I think it should either be in a bigger centre or somewhere more concealed."
Mum-of-four Elisa Hargreaves added: "I think it should be at the Pals Centre or at the hospital and there should be more security cameras."
Ward councillors have also expressed concerns over the proposed site.
At a recent meeting of Peel and Barnfield Area Council, Council-lor Graham Jones said: "People in the surrounding area will be sceptical and if they start to sell up and move we will get a huge negative impact."
The issue was set to be discussed at NHS East Lancashire’s Peel House Management Steering Group at Accrington Town Hall yesterday afternoon (Thursday).
The group will also meet on 6 November, 20 November and 4 December, from 2pm to 4pm.
Anyone with feedback on the plans can email firstname.lastname@example.org.