Planned Burnfoot pharmacy could emerge as ‘hub’ for drug abusers

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A BURNFOOT pharmacy subject to planning permission could prove a “haven” for drug abusers if it opens for business, says the local community council.

The town’s existing four chemists already provide an adequate service, argues Burnfoot Community Council, and recent success in tackling antisocial behaviour in the Borders’ largest housing scheme could go to waste if a “hub for methadone” gets the green light.

“At the moment, there’s nowhere for them to congregate,” Ian Middlemass, secretary of the community council, said of the town’s users of prescribed methadone. “People collect methadone prescriptions from four pharmacies, but there’s nowhere secluded for them to take it in public.

“There’s a fear that methadone users would hang around the shops – it could become a haven for methadone users.”

Burnfoot was identified by the NHS as a “key area of deprivation” with a “projected growth and ageing of the population” and, as a result, a part of town with potential demand for a pharmacy service. Mr Middlemass implored the local authority to reject the proposal, saying the hard work by local people – including parents, school staff and police – to reduce crime could so easily be undone.

“It’s now one of the safest places for more than 3,000 people to live, and I don’t want it to go back to what it was,” said Mr Middlemass. “We had one minor assault and one theft reported throughout the whole of May. We used to have 30-40 calls a week to police for antisocial behaviour – now it’s three in a month and everyone can go to the shops without fear.

“Many people on methadone are trying to get off drugs, which is a complement to them, but many have no intention of doing so and there are incidents of people screaming for extra methadone at the health centre. That sort of thing could make an intimidating presence – people would be terrified walking down there.”

Boots, Lindsay & Gilmour, TN Crosby, and Hawick Health Centre currently serve the town, and although competition would be welcomed by Burnfoot, the community council has presented concerns based on fear of antisocial behaviour to the council.