Re­hab house ‘ad­dress­ing con­cerns’

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JULIAN WRIGHT

A COU­PLE of peo­ple nap­ping in one room and an­other qui­etly watch­ing television while snack­ing on Twisties.

It was hardly the scene of smok­ing, swear­ing, and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour that al­legedly goes on at the drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion house on Har­borne Street, Wem­b­ley.

Western Suburbs Weekly was granted ac­cess to the Fresh Start-run fa­cil­ity fac­ing clo­sure in less than 70 days af­ter Town of Cam­bridge coun­cil­lors deemed it non-com­pli­ant and re­fused a change of use to al­low its con­tin­u­ance.

A Town in­spec­tion was prompted af­ter com­plaints by neigh­bours about anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, which found 10 mat­tresses in the prop­erty, sug­gest­ing more re­cov­er­ing meth ad­dicts were stay­ing there than the oer­mit­ted six at a time.

Fresh Start chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeff Claughton said the or­gan­i­sa­tion spent about $100,000 on “sig­nif­i­cant up­grades” on the build­ing and had been work­ing with the Town and neigh­bours to ad­dress con­cerns raised since it be­gan op­er­a­tions in 2009.

“I un­der­stand the griev­ances; some­times there is swear­ing and some of them smoke,” he said.

“Some­times there are more than six peo­ple here, but some­times there are only two; it de­pends and we hoped that an av­er­age of six would be ok.” When the Western Suburbs Weekly vis­ited the fa­cil­ity, two staff were on site, one prepar­ing a stew for meals, with some residents sleep­ing, com­ing down af­ter re­cent treat­ment.

An­other, who had ar­rived that day and was due to move on the next day, sat qui­etly watch­ing television while she sta­bilised af­ter her treat­ment.

Cam­bridge coun­cil­lor Louis Carr sup­ported the fa­cil­ity at the Oc­to­ber meet­ing but his speech was largely ig­nored.

“I ask one sim­ple ques­tion: Where is your com­pas­sion?” he said.

“It is easy for us to go home to our part­ners, and chil­dren. I pray to God my four sons do not get in­volved in drugs. I have vis­ited (the fa­cil­ity) and have looked into the eyes of the re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts and sensed their pain.

“In­stead of turn­ing them away, we should em­brace them.”

Coun­cil­lor An­dres Tim­mer­ma­nis said he sym­pa­thised with the neigh­bours and heard first-hand the un­savoury con­ver­sa­tions held in the fa­cil­ity’s yard.

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