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Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Published at 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK

Special Report

Michael blamed for drug strategy setback

Wales' anti-drug and alcohol strategy has been widely praised

Wales' anti-drugs strategy could be set back by up to two years because of Alun Michael's decision to disband the advisory body on drug and alcohol misuse.

The warning comes from the chairman of the disbanded committee, Dr William Clee.

BBC Wales' Peter Johnson speaks to committee chairman Dr William Clee
He says Alun Michael's decision came "completely out of the blue".

"The strategy had actually worked extremely well," he said.

"We all felt we were performing extremely well."

He believes the committee's abolition will put anti-drug and alcohol abuse work in Wales back by up to two years.

The Welsh Advisory Committee on Drug and Alcohol Misuse (WACDAM) has been widely praised - notably by UK drugs Tsar Keith Hellawell.

[ image: Drugs Czar Keith Hellawell had praised the committee's work]
Drugs Czar Keith Hellawell had praised the committee's work
WACDAM worked in conjunction with the Welsh Drug and Alcohol Unit to implement their strategy.

The committee was due to be re-appointed in September 1999 when they reached the end of their four-year strategy.

But at the end of May, Alun Michael wrote to all the members of WACDAM to say the committee was being wound up as their work was largely done. This was done with no consultation - Keith Hellawell was not informed.

New strategy was needed

A spokesman for the National Assembly says WACDAM did a very useful job in getting the drug and alcohol strategy off the ground, but it was decided some time ago that a new strategy would be needed in the light of Keith Hellawell's appointment and work.

The spokesman said Alun Michael took the view that a smaller tighter group that would work up proposals to put to the Assembly.

On Monday, a replacement body of administrators and volunteer co-ordinators was appointed.

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