THERE were angry scenes during a public meeting where plans to convert a Weymouth bed and breakfast into a facility for people battling alcohol and drug addictions were discussed.

A meeting was held at Westham Methodist Church on Tuesday evening, giving residents the chance to voice their opinions on Dorset County Council’s plans to purchase and re-develop a property at 22 Abbotsbury Road.

The council has won funding of £620,000 from Public Health England to re-develop the property as the Weymouth Recovery Hub.

Furious residents packed-out the church to voice their concerns, with many saying that while they understand there is a need for the facility, the location is “completely wrong.”

That the area is already a “hotspot” for those with drug and alcohol problems was a point raised by many residents, with one saying: “This area has deteriorated badly and whose fault is that? Alcoholics and drug dealers. It needs sorting out and we need the police.”

The owners of several neighbouring guesthouses raised fears for their businesses.

Angela Monahan, who runs Greenwood Guesthouse, said: “I’m very upset. Nobody has consulted the locals. There is a need for this place but the location is absolutely wrong. I’m very concerned about our business.

“If I was to write to 50 of our guests and ask them if it would make a difference to them visiting again, they would all answer ‘yes, it does.’ Families with young children aren’t going to want to be around this.

“We have been here 14 years and we are fed up of what goes on. There are empty beer cans everywhere, we’ve found needles on occasion and we have had our fence kicked in. We don’t need it.

“Not every person who comes to this facility will succeed in getting better, and then this could cause more problems for us locally."

Many residents criticised the county council for a “lack of consultation”, a point that was backed by Cllr Christine James.

Cllr James said: “We were never told about what sites were options. I think, as a Weymouth and Portland borough councillor, I have a duty to people here in Weymouth and Portland and so I get really cheesed off when Dorset County Council look down their nose at us.

“I did not get elected to not get told about things. There is a need for this and for people to have this help, and had we been told about this we might have all been able to sit around a table and talk about what areas might work.

“I sympathise with people who go down the road of drugs and alcohol but I think you need to listen to public opinion.”

Resident Tim Barret said: “They need to come here at night time and see what it’s really like. There are plenty of shops around selling cheap alcohol and so they have got this all wrong. It’s the wrong location – the parking around here is a nightmare.

“There has been a lack of consultation – I didn’t even know about this meeting until somebody else told me about it.”

The meeting was led by county councillor Mike Byatt, who sat alongside Drew Caldwell of Dorset-based charity Essential Drug and Alcohol Services, Will Haydock of Public Health Dorset, Inspector Pete Browning of Dorset Police, Weymouth and Portland borough councillor Christine James and Graham Duggan, borough council head of Community Protection.

Insp Browning said there is a drug and alcohol problem in the area and that it needs to be acknowledged.

He said: “Isolation is not going to solve that. Some people have complex health problems and facilities like this are the way forward. We have to give people the best opportunity to come off drugs and alcohol.”

He added: “It’s natural for residents to have concerns about this. But the people who will be using the service are people who are already engaging and trying to change.”

Speaking after the meeting, Chris Richards, who runs Warwick Court Guesthouse, said: “I think Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have been left out of the loop completely. It seems they haven’t been informed about anything.

“We all agree this service is required but not at this location. I am concerned about my business.”

Dorset County Council has said that the new hub aims to get people back in to a normal life by providing therapy rooms, education, training and employment opportunities.

Up to six people will be able to stay overnight in the facility for short periods of around a week while they undergo detox or while they access support.

The councils said that the centre will be carefully managed by an on-site staff team of experienced professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.