Burnfoot chemist methadone fears

A controversial proposal to open a pharmacy in Burnfoot has been approved, despite fears that it could become a hub for drug addicts.

An application by Motherwell-based Elixir Healthcare Ltd to set up a pharmacy in Kenilworth Avenue was met with local opposition earlier this year, amid fears that it would attract substance abusers and affect existing businesses in the town.

But a spokesperson for NHS Borders confirmed this week that the proposal has been signed off.

Alison Wilson, the health board’s director of pharmacy, told the Hawick News: “The application for a new pharmacy in Burnfoot has been given the go-ahead.”

However, newly-appointed Burnfoot Community Council chairman Michael Grieve admitted that he has mixed feelings about a chemist on the estate. He told the Hawick News: “This brings a mixed blessing because although it will save people having to go down the street and may boost footfall to the other shops, we don’t want it to attract people there to get their methadone.”

Local ward councillor Stuart Marshall has also voiced his concerns, stating: “Burnfoot Community Council objected to this proposal and I supported them. I know that other pharmacies in town, including Crosby’s, already provide an excellent delivery service to a lot of constituents in the Burnfoot area and I can only hope that there is room for everyone to survive.”

But Elixir owner Umar Razzaq claims that that a local pharmacy will bring benefits to the Burnfoot community.

“We want to come to Hawick because we feel there is a need in the area and that it is also deprived,” he said.

“There have been a lot of complaints about the lack of a chemist and people having to travel to the town centre, so we hope it will be a boost for the area.”

Alluding to Burnfoot’s well-documented health-related deprivation, Mr Razzaq added: “Figures have shown that things are getting worse in Burnfoot, so hopefully the pharmacy will improve things and the area.”

Mr Razzaq, also a pharmacist, says his company is taking over two premises in Kenilworth Avenue and aims to open next year and eventually employ six people.