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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 12:18 GMT
Fears over drug rehab proposals
Highbury House behind trees
The grounds of Highbury House back onto a playing field
Residents against plans for a drugs and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in the heart of a south Wales town claim there has been a lack of consultation.

They say there is a lack of information about the proposal for Highbury House in Blackwood, which is close to Libanus Primary School and many homes.

But Caerphilly Council defended its consultation, which began in July with an exhibition at the town library.

The council said no decision would be made until the process was complete.

Under the proposals, staff would be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week and clients would be likely to stay at the centre for between six to nine months to learn skills for independent living.

Carol Morris
When I spoke to my neighbours about it none of them had heard anything either and it was months and months before we had any official notification
Carol Morris, resident

But local people said they had been disappointed with what they saw as a "closed shop" of information and complained of "a lack of answers to our questions".

They were also angered because they said some of the consultation meetings had been by invitation only.

Blackwood Community Group has been set up by people opposed to the plans and more than 2,000 people have signed a petition.

Park shortcut

There have been three protest marches and members of the action group have visited Welsh Assembly Members.

Many people living nearby were concerned about the safety of children who used a shortcut through a park to get to school.

Carol Morris, who lives next to Highbury House, said she was "very concerned".

Sign outside Highbury House
Protest signs are in the windows and gardens of many homes

"The first I heard about what they plan to do there was after a relative told me about a rumour he had heard on the golf course about it," she said.

"When I spoke to my neighbours about it none of them had heard anything either and it was months and months before we had any official notification."

Marian Griffiths, who has lived near to Highbury House for 40 years, said she and many other residents were afraid of the consequences of housing vulnerable people in the area.

"People are afraid and nothing has been done to quell or allay those fears," she said.

"They did this consultation exercise with little groups of people by invitation only. And it just feels that the council are not listening to us."

The plans have been agreed in principle, but the final decision has been deferred by the council until a later date as consultation continues.

A council spokesman said: "We want to ensure that the public, as well as a wide range of relevant agencies, have been given the opportunity to have their say on the issue".




SEE ALSO
Council rejects drug rehab centre
03 May 06 |  Glasgow and West

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