Drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centre: It would be a ‘good addition’ to the community, says Reverend

DUNMOW’S reverend has thrown his weight behind plans for a town centre drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centre by claiming it would be a “good addition” to the community.

Rev David Ainge of St Mary’s Church joined the debate over the bid to convert a town centre bed and breakfast into a short-term, high end treatment centre. In response to the action groups, businesses and residents opposed to the proposals, he has suggested that such a centre is needed.

He told the Broadcast: “I understand the concerns from parents but they are unfounded.

“Experience elsewhere shows that clients pose no more risk to the community than anyone else.

“The facility will be working with people who want to rebuild their lives so that has to be a good addition to any community.”

His plea comes on the back of an application submitted to Uttlesford District Council by Ian and Helen Aldridge who want to transform Harwood Guest House in Stortford Road.

Action groups have been set up in response, with organisers complaining that their children would be in danger and that businesses would suffer.

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But Rev Ainge has moved to waylay those fears having helped out on the Dagenham Daybreak Drug Abuse project. The flagship programme in east London was started in 1985 by Rev Deryck Spratley after he conducted two funerals in two weeks for teenagers who had died from drug overdoses. In the centre’s 25 year history, the patients have never been known to cause the community any problems.

The centre bears striking similarities to the proposed centre on Stortford Road: within half a mile radius is a school, two restaurants and a bar.

The Broadcast contacted Eastbrook Comprehensive School and The Eastbrook Public House. Both said that there had been no problems caused by the patients at the centre.

Rev Ainge suggested that the impact of a similar centre on Dunmow’s community would be negligible.

“You can’t guarantee that there will be no risks, but no more risks than anything else in this town,” he said.

“The people going to the centre would be highly motivated to succeed. They would be taking time away from their families, their work and agreeing to be locked up for 24 hours a day until they are deemed trusted enough to go out for one hour.

“On top of that they will have to pay �8,000 for the privilege.

“Those admitted will have already been on a great emotional and physical journey before entering rehabilitation. They will want to make the most of the opportunity in front of them.”