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John supports renewed call for scrutiny of rehab centres...

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Greater accountability is needed for privately-owned drug rehabilitation centres in Weston-super-Mare, a councillor has warned.

Last week, the Mercury reported on the concerns of Broadway Lodge’s chief executive Brian Dudley, who feels North Somerset Council is not doing enough to help addicts.

Mr Dudley said the council focuses too much on community-based rehabilitation rather than offering residential treatment – something he feels is inappropriate for the most serious cases and could lead to a larger population of people with drug and alcohol issues in Weston.

But the council argued it was engaging more people than it had been able to before and its £1.7million-a-year treatment programme ranks among the top 25 per cent in the country.

Central ward councillor Richard Nightingale now says the real issue facing drug and alcohol addiction treatment is the lack of scrutiny for rehab centres.

Cllr Nightingale said: “Private centres are not answerable to the council, nor do they have to report their success rates or indeed the number of people that check in for treatment, then drop out and remain untreated in our community. It is important these centres are operating to the highest standards, for patient care and for the good of Weston residents.

“I feel these businesses should be accountable and poor performing centres should be identified, assessed and if necessary closed.”

Weston once had the title of rehab capital of the UK, but Weston MP John Penrose and the council worked to reduce the number of poor-quality centres.

Mr Penrose said: “Weston has come a long way over the past 10 years, halving the number of rehab beds, so addicts have a better chance of kicking their habits and local people suffer less crime. We need to make sure we don’t put all that hard work and progress at risk.”

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