Kingston Council criticised over plans to move Surbiton needle exchange

Could the Surbiton needle exchange move here to Hollyfield House?

Could the Surbiton needle exchange move here to Hollyfield House?

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

Public health officials have come under fire over the proposed move of a wellbeing service, including a needle exchange, for people struggling with substance abuse.

The service, currently housed in Surbiton Health Centre in Ewell Road and in Acre Road, Kingston, could move to Hollyfield House in Hollyfield Road, Surbiton.

But residents are concerned too few people were consulted on the plans.

Kingston Council said it sent out 50 letters on August 11, in the same “designated area” recently consulted on planning changes at Hollyfield House.

But Gordon Road resident Clare Lockyer said she was not notified “at all”.

She said: “It seems very underhand that it was done with so few people, in the middle of August.

“I know so many other people that would want to attend [consultation meetings].”

Councillor Malcolm Self, chairman of Surbiton neighbourhood committee, said he was unaware of any meetings about the move.

He said: “We had all this about lack of consultation before. It’s self-defeating in the end. It’s not sufficient for something as significant as this.”

A Kingston Council spokesman declined to comment further.

Residents and parents at Lime Tree Primary School launched a petition last year to force the move of the needle exchange, citing poor communication by health managers over the nature of the service.

In a letter to residents, Dr Jonathan Hildebrand, Kingston Council’s director of public health, said: “We looked at a number of community sites, but most were unsuitable because they were difficult to get to for people or because they were due to be sold.

“Hollyfield House was found to be the most suitable home for the wellbeing service as it is easy to get to by public transport and has the potential to accommodate both the psychology and the alcohol and drug treatment service.”

Councillors have been told Surbiton Health Centre does not have enough space to house all wellbeing services.

Splitting the teams has affected capacity and efficiency, Kingston Council officers said.

Councillors will be briefed on the outcome of the consultation at a meeting on Thursday, September 18, at 7.30pm at the Guildhall.

An extra meeting for residents to air their views has been scheduled at 2pm on Monday, September 15, at the King Charles Centre.

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