Brockley's drug rehab centre: Cllr Johnson says "bring it on"

Cllr Johnson writes:

I’ve been proud to represent Brockley residents this past decade. I would never knowingly support any project that would worsen the quality of life for Brockley residents. So when some residents started to raise concerns about the siting of a proposed Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centre in Brockley Cross I felt I had a duty to find out more before coming to a conclusion. 

Certainly, I don’t want to see anything that adds to anti-social behaviour problems in the ward. That’s why I worked with the local police and council officers to get a problem off-licence banned from serving alcohol, after many years of being a nightmare for local residents. That’s also why I worked successfully with residents to get the licensing conditions changed for the old Rosemary Branch/Gourmet Bar on Lewisham Way. It’s now a lovely well-run pub.

However, the more I have found out about the Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centre proposed for Shardeloes Road, the more convinced I am that such a facility is desperately needed and that Brockley has nothing whatsoever to fear from it. Bearing in mind the concerns of some residents, I arranged to visit a similar centre, run by the same charitable organisation in Woolwich. Like Woolwich, the Brockley Centre would only deal with scheduled appointments. It’s not a drop-in centre and it won’t be dispensing drugs on the premises. Any substitute drugs will continue to be dispensed from local pharmacies as they have been for many, many years. When I visited the Woolwich centre I found a professional, friendly and well-run service. People don’t hang around outside and it’s not a magnet for drug dealers or anti-social behaviour. The centre is limited to 15-30 appointments per day as the Brockley one would be. The facility is a good neighbour to the residents and local businesses in Woolwich and a similar facility can be a good neighbour to us here in Brockley, too.

I know that some residents have questioned why such a service should be in Brockley. The arguments have come in two forms. Some have argued that drugs are not really a problem in Brockley and such a service would be better located in New Cross or Deptford. On the other hand, others have argued that drugs are already a problem in Brockley and that this treatment centre would make things even worse. Those contradictory arguments cannot both be right – but in fact neither conveys an accurate picture. We do already have Brockley residents seeking treatment who would use this facility. It’s not the sort of place people want to trek half way across the borough to - most service users tend to walk or catch the bus to centres like this. Furthermore, all the evidence is that far from attracting drug dealers into the area such a service is likely to repel them. If you are a drug dealer, drug rehabilitation centres are not a good place for business and you tend to avoid them.

If, like me, you hate the damage that drug and alcohol misuse can do to individuals and to society, then surely we need more facilities like this. I know some people are concerned Brockley Cross is a residential area. But in a densely populated city like London, I doubt there is a single street that’s not close to at least some homes and businesses. My visit to Woolwich showed that a facility like this can be a good neighbour. And surely, we need to commend people who want to turn their lives around and end their addictions rather than demonising them and being frightened of them. I am convinced that this is an excellent service that’s desperately needed locally and I am also convinced that Brockley Cross is a suitable location for it.

Cllr Darren Johnson
Green Party Councillor for Brockley Ward

73 comments:

Captain Perspective said...

Finally, the voice of reason.

Nice to see Cllr Johnson not coming out for the mung/nimby consensus for once and actually letting truth, balance and perspective guide the way.

Anonymous said...

WHIPPED!!!

A Non said...

i thought the mungs were up for it? please get your silly stereotypes straight. The inconsistency makes my head hurt.

Anyway, im OK with it being there (with correct monitoring)

Anonymous said...

this is excellent news, and hats off to Cllr Johhny for being perfectly reasonable about it and taking the trouble to do a bit of investigation

Hugh said...

Am I the only one who thinks these druggies should be left to rot?

Anonymous said...

Of course not Hugh - loads of people are as unpleasant and thick as you.

Anonymous said...

nope, you and Lou. Trouble is on the way to the gutter they will probably rob you. It's a subtle connection.

Anonymous said...

Drug and alcohol?? Alcohol is a drug. Seemed to be quite well said until the final paragraph of generic politician rubbish.

Anonymous said...

SO is caffine, glue can be misused as well as used for sticking your soles back on. call it substance misuse if that makes it easier. The easy political answer would be to be anti.

Do They Know It's Christmas said...

No, the mungs were most definitely NOT up for it.

Being a mung is all about making token gestures - taking a 'bag for life' to the supermarket, only buying organic eggs or going out of your way to get a fair trade, privately educated turkey for your Christmas (or is that 'Holiday') dinner.

When it comes to actually making a tangible difference to the world, especially one that involves "undesirables" who aren't located in the relative safety (from them) of the sub-sahara, the mungs tend to get a little anti.

It's all good for them as long as you're baking fair trade cakes and having a jumble sale for those "people in Africa or whatever"... but as soon as the help is needed a little close to home they show their true selves.

Thank you Darren.

A Non said...

like i thought, a meaningless stereotype. Thanks for confirming.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lbofse14 said...

One must admire Darren for nailing his colours to the mast: not the easiest response politically. Nothing yet heard from other two councillors I note. But looks pretty certain that scheme this will go ahead. Of course there is little doubt about the need for the facility, but the location is crazy and the building chosen is absolutely diabolical! That is why the first choice site was a very different building in Deptford, which was abandoned in the face of local opposition. So now we have serious funding and timing issues and practically no choice. An appallingly badly handled initiative.

Anonymous said...

But wouldn't the Waldron Health Centre be a better place?

Anonymous said...

Brockley Cross and Woolwich should twin really, they are about equal in the sh*thole league table.

Anonymous said...

"It’s not a drop-in centre and it won’t be dispensing drugs on the premises. Any substitute drugs will continue to be dispensed from local pharmacies as they have been for many, many years."

Nice choice of words there. So if the centre should become one of the network of what are essentially 'shooting galleries' with state supplied diamorphine, (£15,000 pa per user) that some people at the Maudsley are piloting, then Darren's covered. There is after all a difference between consuming and dispensing and morphine by definition cannot be a substitute for itself!!!

Essentially this in an enabling centre; as anyone who knows anything about this field knows, successful treatment achieved through places such as this is rare.

Sigh.... said...

Really anon? Not methadone then. And how much do untreated addicts cost? I'm not sure but I suspect you know nothing about what they will do there and know nothing about drug policy.

Anonymous said...

You are the expert it seems, Sigh..,so lets start with you telling the readers what the budget for drug and alcohol services was last year in this country? Then you can go on to tell us how many 'successes' this achieved; but please be sure to outline what counts as success in this field. Think you could manage that? Or is typing more than one sneering sentence beyond you? Yeah,thought so.

Sigh said...

No idea. Please show me where the plans are for this particular facility to allow users to inject diamorphine supplied by local chemists? I really don't know the answer, I suspect your trying to whip up some hysteria.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Johnson is what is called a conviction politician - a rare breed! Well done for standing up for what you believe in, and based on sound evidence and facts rather than popularist feeling. It takes guts.

Anonymous said...

I haven't yet heard a reason against The Waldron Centre in New Cross...

Lou Baker said...

@anon 1520

I haven't said they should rot. That is you inventing things.

I have said they should be treated BUT that treatment should be compulsorary and it should be done well away from urban areas.

The law abiding majority should not be made to suffer because some people make bad choices with their lives.

Taking drugs is selfish. By taking them you are breaking the law and funding an organised crime network. A network that robs, mugs and burgles here. And does much more abroad.

When you do a line of coke do you wonder if a Mexican has had a bullet to the head to feed your habit? Probably not. Does a heroin user wonder about the Afghan poppy farmer whose children are murdered by rivals? No.

Drug users are directly responsible for these ills. For swathes of crime and corruption across the world. Yes they should get treatment, but it should be on our terms - not theirs. And my terms would not be a nice residential part of Brockley. They'd be a prison ship, a Scottish mountain top - or six months in a tent in Helmand. Beat some discipline into these morally bankrupt souls.

Anonymous said...

What is Brockley Centrals view? Doess it have one?

Anonymous said...

The council should look at several possible places and not just one. That way a sensible decision will be made.

Th eWaldron Centre would be better.

Anonymous said...

Have other areas been looked into?

Anonymous said...

This piece was all very 'right on' but it didn't ask what do local people want?

And what about other sites?

What is wrong with other sites?

Anonymous said...

The Waldron Centre is right next to a train station and 30 seconds walk from a bus stop.
Brockley Cross could not possibly match it in terms of transport links.

Anonymous said...

Darren, that you are convinced is not really the issue here, you have always been supporting this. Frankly I do not think you matter.

Anonymous said...

The issue is whether Brockley Cross is the best place and in terms of transport links I'd say it isn't.

It's democracy stupid said...

Anon, Darren was elected by the ward. He does matter. You may not agree with him, where's your mandate your mandate to speak for me or anyone else?

If "we" are so horrified in brockley then he will loose the next election as ward cllr. Kind of how democracy works. If we had a referendum for every decision made things would freeze up. Get over it, it's a public health facility that will help abusers get off drugs. Win!

Anyone else sick of Lou and his nasty mind? said...

Lou, I love you. You are beyond parody. For every almost sensible idea comes a swath of nasty, illinformed, reactionary nonsense. Where does this hatred come from? You really are a very mixed up individual, you want to legalise all drugs....but find users morally repugnant.

I look at your comments and yes, see some one who want to "beat some sense" into them. Violent AND stupid. Want about judicial torture? , I'm sure we cold work that into the criminal justice system? Capital punishment? Don't really need to ask. Amputation for thieves who will not stop? Hmmmm.... Why not. Chopping the testicles off sex offenders (even though many were once victims) obviously.

Pack up and get yerrself to Saudia Arabia.

you will no doubt bleat about "lefty liberals" and "corduroy" (get some new gags). Fine, actually it's simply civilised not to do those things. The enlightenment happened several hundred years ago, you may not have got the memo.

Anonymous said...

"Drug users are directly responsible for these ills" - presumably the same logic applies to Customs officers who fail to stop the drugs getting into the country? Do we need to kick them out of society too?

Hugh said...

It's only because you lot are poor that you sympathise.

Lou & Hughs Christmas Special said...

Hugh, you're boring. Get another joke will you.

Headhunter said...

"Taking drugs is selfish. By taking them you are breaking the law and funding an organised crime network. A network that robs, mugs and burgles here. And does much more abroad.

When you do a line of coke do you wonder if a Mexican has had a bullet to the head to feed your habit? Probably not. Does a heroin user wonder about the Afghan poppy farmer whose children are murdered by rivals? No.

Drug users are directly responsible for these ills. For swathes of crime and corruption across the world"

This is all very true, Lou is not wrong. Not to mention the chemicals used to create white powders like coke.... The chemicals are toxic to the producers and to the natural environment where the coke is produced.

I completely agree, drug users are morally bankrupt and selfish. However dealing with them "on our terms" on a prison ship or wherever, much as this satisfies the desire for punishment, it excludes these individuals from society which may be the only way to "cure" them.

I still do not believe this centre should be located here on a residential road in Brockley. As discussed previously, transport links are not ideal, the lease is not long and is there really sufficient need in the, lets face it, relatively sleepy backwater of residential Brockley? To me it sounds like the council is forcing this through and "settling" on this location simply because they can't be bothered to find a better place ratherthan because they have been through a detailed analysis of where it would be best suited.

As we have heard, the 1st choice location in Deptford was binned due to local opposition, so why is it being forced through this time?

Anonymous said...

I started reading HHs post but had a G&T instead.

it's a shame said...

You should read the post- it was good

Hugh said...

Being poor is boring and makes people boring as well. All they do is talk about how hard life is.

Lou's Cat said...

Whereas you are CONSIDERABLY richer than us....but boring. How do you pull off such a feat? While you're there, how do you type with only one hand?

Hugh said...

I love being much richer than you!

Anonymous said...

What a rubbish and ptronising post full of "believe me", "I have consdered and came to the conclusion" bulshit.

The responses to the questionnaire have been 90% negative, the consultations have given a negative response to the Council and have asked for: concrete evidence and criteria used in the selection and transparency on the process and decisionn making.

Instead we get the usual Lewisham Council and Councillors bulshit response that they know best what is good for us citizens. If they only had the decency to move the drug center next door to their houses and offices rather than shifting it as far as they can from it.

disillusionedwithlocalcouncillors said...

Dear Darren,

I've voted for you at every local election since I moved into the area in 2002 but no longer.

I wrote to you to raise my concerns about the proposed rehab centre and asked you for your views on 4 October. I didn't get a reply from you until 18 November which basically was just a holding statement and didn't say one thing or the other.

You claimed illness and a few days away caused the lengthy seven week delay in responding to my email, however you seemed happy to gurn for the 1 in 10 campaign outside city hall during that time, obviously you've got your eye on pan-London glory and local issues mean diddly squat to you.

You really shouldn't have bothered emailing me back - it was was a waste of keystrokes on your part as it didn't address anything I asked - like a true politician.

Sadly you've lost votes in this household come next election. So the next time you come knocking, canvassing for my vote (and it is the only time I ever see you) forgive me if I shut the door in your face.

Sadly I'm wondering whether to bother voting in the local elections ever again.

If you don't want to lose any more votes then I suggest you pull your finger out and listen to what local people have to say and respond to their concerns in a timely fashion.

Perhaps take a leaf out of the other Brockley councillors who despite both being busy manage to run two surgeries per month instead of your solitary one a month.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Any single mung vote Darren loses would be replaced by 2 sensible votes because of this, so I wouldn't worry, Darren supporters :-)

Howard said...

If you removed the drug users from Brockley you'd very quickly sort out any issues with shortage of housing... as long as you could afford the conservation area that is!

Drug users morally bankrupt? Most drugs trade happens with very little strife at all other than that caused by local laws prohibiting their import, sale and use. But you don't get a very good story out of drugs being safely sold and used, so the more sensational tales get the airtime instead.

By far the most used drug worldwide is coffee, followed by our friends cigarettes and tobacco. Anyone who's actually tried drugs will tell you that the effects of them aren't a million miles away and certainly nothing like the existentialist nightmare the Daily Mail would like you to believe.

Calm down said...

I'm a local "people" gets my vote. Sometimes councilors have to lead, well done. As for the 90%, it wasn't a unanimous opinion. Some saw the need but not there, some fools think there should be no treatment or punitive punishment on a mountain top or some other bizzare solution.

If you feel that strongly about this, and wish to vote him out on a single issue next time go ahead. Most people want the death penalty, luckily our "morally bankrupt" politicians have enough backbone and principle to take a lead.

This will blow over once it's open and nothing much happens....except those seeking help will get some and make us all safer.

Calm down said...

...and the mung thing, he's a green. Unless I'm going mad its a proper yougurt knitting, compassionate position he's taking. Munged up to the nines.

The burning tourch and pitchfork types, there the ones you need to watch.

Anonymous said...

but what about other sites?

have any other sites been considered?

leadership said...

Sorry for those who are call this the move of a leader.

I have to say that Darren has expressed less leadership and charisma than an amoeba in the years I have been in Brockley.

A true politician!!

Anonymous said...

Howard:

"If you removed the drug users from Brockley you'd very quickly sort out any issues with shortage of housing... as long as you could afford the conservation area that is!"

Sounds good.

disilusionedwithlocalcouncillors said...

Darren couldn't lead his way out of a recycled paper bag.

A leader would have resolved a problem off-licence a little quicker than the 10 years or it's taken to sort it out.

I'm not voting against him because of a single issue. The reason why I'm not voting for him is because of his inability to show leadership and actually reply to one of his constituents. The other councillors responded and whether I agree or disagree with their views is neither here nor there.

This mung bean thing is rather tiresome. People having reservations about the service does not mean they are a mung-NIMBY type; in the same way that those for the service are not all hug-a-hoody, tree-hugging bleedin heart liberals.

Sigh.... said...

You misunderstand the law, single councilor cannot shut down a bussiness. There is a legal process that has to be followed that also takes into account the owner. It's a difficult job, you seem to strugle with that.

He represents everyone in the ward, not just you. He also represents the drug users and people who didn't and would never vote for him. Complex isn't it? He got voted in, vote for someone else next time. Until you can think of a better method that is.

Sigh said...

.....and he's set out this thinking here. He's not just "your" representative, get over yourself. Perhaps he done have to time to write to an individual, how much correa dance do you figure he has?

Anonymous said...

..if you removed the substance abusers out of Bockley the population would fall 50% and the Barge would be empty.

Dicon said...

@ Darren Johnson

"I arranged to visit a similar centre, run by the same charitable organisation in Woolwich."

Which centre was it? Was it chosen by you or CRi?

"Some have argued that drugs are not really a problem in Brockley and such a service would be better located in New Cross or Deptford. On the other hand, others have argued that drugs are already a problem in Brockley and that this treatment centre would make things even worse. Those contradictory arguments cannot both be right"

Actually the simple facts that the location is not convenient for many potential service users in North Lewisham and is also located close to a business that attracts many active drug users are not contradictory.

"It’s not the sort of place people want to trek half way across the borough to - most service users tend to walk or catch the bus to centres like this."

Quite so, which is why it's not a good place transport-wise.

"all the evidence is that far from attracting drug dealers into the area such a service is likely to repel them."

Which evidence is this?

"If you are a drug dealer, drug rehabilitation centres are not a good place for business and you tend to avoid them."

How do you know this?

"I know some people are concerned Brockley Cross is a residential area. But in a densely populated city like London, I doubt there is a single street that’s not close to at least some homes and businesses."

However, it is obvious that some places are more residential than others.

"And surely, we need to commend people who want to turn their lives around and end their addictions rather than demonising them and being frightened of them."

Your false dichotomy implies that those with reservations about the location of the centre are demonising the service users. That's clearly unfair, perhaps worse.

"I am also convinced that Brockley Cross is a suitable location for it."

It may be, but your intervention has done nothing to provide evidence that this is true.

Anonymous said...

Hang on do the opponents of this centre realise they live in Lewisham not bloody Kensington...

Westsider said...

Yes they do, what's your point?

Frank Furter said...

Councillor Johnson is a complete waste of space on this issue.
We needed his representation against a proposal for a hostel in Manor Avenue. He threw a sickie at the last minute and of course it got through. Which is what is was designed to.

Anonymous said...

Ladywell gets the remake and Brockley gets the rehabs.

Would it be because the mayor leave in Ladywell? BXAG has been asking for a remake for almost 10 years...

Obviously we have to thank Councillors like Darren if Brockley gets this treatment.

Btw, Darren some people still want the CPZ so that we can cope with the van problem.

A Non said...

the quality of debate is at it's usual high standard I see.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 18:13

any single vote replaced by two sensible votes - don't think so. Sensible people chose not to vote green at the last local elections hence losing two Green councillors in the Brockley ward.

Anonymous said...

@ Frank Furter
I wonder how much difference Cllr Johnson's attendance at the planning meeting about the hostel on Manor Avenue would have made. He's not on that planning committee and in any case it was already a foregone conclusion. It would have been helpful to have the following information beforehand rather than finding it on the council website a few days before the meeting:

"The (35 year) lease ends in 2018 and to reconfigure the building would be extremely costly. L&Q would not wish to hand the property back to the Council before the end of the lease, as to do so would result in L&Q having to repay considerable grant funding that they received for the original scheme."

Presumably the grant funding pot to 'reconfigure' it into more permanent accommodation - to house families, for example - is now empty!

A non said...

Anon @18:51

Erm...they voted labour. It's a labour council that is proposing the centre. At least Darren has amade an effort to look at it and done some research. As for "sensible people" voting one way or another, well that's just you deriding others choices. He was voted it, he may be voted out. If he was only interested in keeping his job he would have joined the hysterical types predicting open drug markes and comatose addicts asleep on the common. If dealing is the issue the bile and pressure should be on the police to close down the dealers openly trading at brockley cross. Darren supported action taken at the offy on UBR remember.

I'm labour by principle but voted Darren and dean because at least they seem to be aware of their area rather than just wanting to warm a seat.

Christ, who would be a politician?

Anonymous said...

I didn't move to Brockley from the home counties to live near druggies.

I thought this forum was all about house prices and where to get a half decent coffee.

Brockley WILL be the next Herne Hill, hurrah!

Westsider said...

Unfunny trustafarian goldsmiths student alert!

His radical anthropology course doesn't reach 'observational humour' until next term.

Brockley dealer said...

I expect he moved from the home counties so he wouldn't have to marry his cousin.

Anonymous said...

Feel sure that our Councillors will make sure this is as well monitored and policed as the large group of drug dealers operating opposite the Honey Pot and within a few metres of a local primary school. Openly,brazenly and without fear. Good neighbours! I wonder if Cllr Johnson met with any local people near this centre of excellence in Woolwich and just asked "Are you more scared now a rehab centre is in your midst?". Its a simple question - ask a few Mothers in Shardeloes! The people have spoken and no one in authority is listening. We can speak loudly on election night though, us working class nimbys. The drugs issue won't touch the well off it will be the poor trying to make a better life, despite crap housing, no access to the decent schools and worried about what their kids might be exposed to. Prevention rather than cure Cllr Johnson, not betting offices and rehab centres and homes for the homeless. The well off can and will move when the area is swamped with problems but us poorer residents can't Cllr Johnson and you and your'e colleagues are the most prejudiced of all! You have decided Brockley is either Nimbys or the disadvantaged as if all poorer people are on the verge of addiction and of course will welcome a recovery centre! WE DONT! Who are you representing?

Anonymous said...

A rehab centre, where people go to get off drugs. Yes there is a drug dealing issue in brockley. That needs dealing with but having or not saving a rehab centre will not affect that. Cllr Johnson lives in brockley cross so will be equally affected by the hoards of recovering addicts. Stop with the "working class" bull, what that evn mean and how is that relevant? Complain to the police if you think they are not doing enough about local dealers.

Anonymous said...

that's if you ever see a copper? Not seen one walking the beat in the years I've lived here

Brockley Dogging Society said...

We don't need police in Brockley. At the first sign of trouble, shout out for a friendly Brockley Dogger. They'll come out as soon as practical, handcuffs in hand, ready to bring a large truncheon down on the heads of anyone who needs it.

As for the drug dealing problem in Brockley, it is indeed very concerning... what's up with the quality of coke we've had in the last few months? Definitely not organic.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the latest on this is? Have been trying to find out from the council but they're not being very helpful. Has a decision been made yet?

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