Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre fuels anger

OUTRAGED residents have joined forces against “wholly inappropriate” plans to convert a town centre bed and breakfast into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

roposals are on the table to change Harwood Guest House in Stortford Road into a place for private patients to recover from their addictions.

Residents are concerned that if the change of use is approved by planning authority Uttlesford District Council, the rehab centre would be just yards from Great Dunmow and St Mary’s primary schools.

Fearing for the safety of their children, parents have started an action group opposing the plans.

In a letter to the Broadcast, representative Jo Murphy expressed unease that “Dunmow’s safe environment” would be compromised by the “patients and the people the facility will attract to tempt the patients away from their objective”.

“We have concerns over the negative impact it could have on the local community,” she adds.

“One of the reasons we live in Dunmow is because our children can grow up in a safe environment where they can play with their friends safely and have freedom to explore the surroundings without restraint or anxiety.

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“We feel we will not be able to do this if the proposal goes ahead. The safety and well-being of our children is paramount.”

According to applicants, Ian and Helen Aldridge, patients who use the centre will have to adhere to a “strict and controlled regime” of classes and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings throughout the week, but will be entitled to one hour of free time a day when, if permitted by the therapist, can leave and walk around the town.

Mr Aldridge told the Broadcast: “We’re not looking to upset anyone. If we find evidence that in any way the centre will cause risks or problems then it will be a non-starter. The last thing we want to do is put anybody at risk.”

However, with five pubs and bars within walking distance of the property, residents and businesses have questioned if the proposed location is appropriate.

“We do not object to a centre of this type, but it would be better located out of town,” said Mrs Murphy.

“The property is located directly opposite Jalsa Ghar and the Queen Victoria, which is a wholly inappropriate place to put a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.”

Mrs Murphy and her fellow campaigners have set up an e-mail (notorehabcentre1@hotmail.co.uk) for others to voice their concerns, and have also started a petition.

WHAT do you think? E-mail editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk