Tyne & Wear

Residents worried by Fenham Library rehabilitation centre plan

Fenham Library
Image caption The work on Fenham Library is due to be completed by the end of October

Plans to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in a library have sparked anger among residents.

Newcastle City Council is installing the centre in Fenham Library as part of an upgrade which also includes a community cafe and gym.

Opponents claim the library is the "wrong place" for the rehab centre.

The council said it was an "important service" and there were "misconceptions" about people who have drug and alcohol addictions.

It says the centre will not include clinical services, prescription distribution or a needle exchange.

However, Sharon McCabe, who lives near the library, said: "We just think it is being put in the wrong place."

Image caption Sharon McCabe is one of several residents who believe the library is the wrong place for the service

Another resident told the BBC: "There's a place for this kind of service in the area but not on the doorstep of the community with so many children and families around."

Public Health England has given the council £338,000 to help fund the refurbishment with the centre, dubbed a health and wellbeing hub, part of the plan.

Meryem Gulmen opened a beauty salon near the library five weeks ago but said she did not know about the plan.

She said: "I'm happy they are going to come and get help but at the same time we don't know how it's going to be for business.

"It's a nice neighbourhood, are people going to be drinking outside, are people going to be using drugs?"

Image caption Salon owner Meryem Gulmen said she was not sure how the centre would affect business

Councillor Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and health, said: "I do understand why people have concerns but I wouldn't want to reinforce misconceptions about people who have experienced problems with drugs and alcohol.

"There are a lot of people whose family and friends have been affected. Spaces like this are so important to the community."

Work is due to be completed by the end of October.

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