Criticism of how drug and alcohol problems are dealt with locally are being countered by Weymouth and Portland borough council and public health services.

But there is now a fear that more than £600,000 set aside for a local rehabilitation centre could be lost.

Cllr Penny McCartney says she is continually being asked what the borough council is doing to tackle the issues.

In a question to the council’s scrutiny and performance committee on Thursday, she asks: “As a councillor I am getting reports of drug taking, drunken violent behaviour in the community. People are now witnessing drug taking in our car parks, parks, town centre, it’s not a hidden problem. What is the council’s policy for engagement with support within Weymouth? How effective is our engagement? What outcomes do we get?”

She also points to the problem of locating a rehabilitation centre in Abbotsbury Road which was withdrawn after a campaign against it.

She adds: “The council are seen as totally lacking direction, effective action is lacking. Across social media complaints are rising. Is our strategy working, purposeful and outcome based?”

In a response to her questions compiled by Graham Duggan, head of community protection, the council say that much of Cllr McCartney’s concerns are not the responsibility of the council but rest with the drug and alcohol services.

A written reply to her points out that Public Health Dorset (hosted by Dorset County Council) are the commissioners for drug and alcohol services.

The statement adds: “Council services such as housing, environmental health and community safety are involved with the impacts of substance abuse in communities as are Dorset Police. Other agencies are also involved such as The Lantern and the Street Pastors.”

The council say that drug use in Weymouth and Portland is more than 11.9 in every 1,000 people compared to the Dorset County Council area of 5.6. In Bournemouth the rate is 15.2.

The statement says that a wide range of support and advice is offered and some local pharmacies, as well as specialist treatment services, offer needle exchange, as well as to receive new, sterile supplies.

“Dorset has a high-performing treatment system when compared to national and regional averages, with service users completing their course of treatment successfully at rates above the national average. The latest data available suggest that nine per cent of opiate users, 42 per cent of non-opiate users, and 45 per cent of alcohol users engaged in local services completed their treatment successfully."

The report admits that it has been ‘difficult’ to find an alternative site for the integrated treatment centre which was planned for Abbotsbury Road.

Public Health Dorset had secured £620,000 from the Department of Health to set up the centre.

“It is proving very difficult to identify a suitable alternative property within the budget available and there is a significant risk that the funding will be withdrawn,” said the report.

The council says it also helps find suitable housing for those with drug and alcohol problems and supports the work of the bus shelter while Environmental Health and Dorset Waste Partnership arrange for the removal of drug paraphernalia including sharps from public land. Sharps drop boxes have been installed at some public conveniences.

“There have been some significant ‘drug dens’ found along the Rodwell Trail which has cost the council a lot of money to make safe and block access. Undoubtedly more will be found.”

The council says that, with the police, legal action is taken, including Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO) which can be placed on any individual following a conviction. Thirty CBO’s have been issued on the most prolific offenders.

Recently agreed new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which will include Anti-Social Drinking and Begging will come into force later this summer.