Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Town's Anger at Judge's Drugs Comment; RESIDENTS HIT BACK OVER 'BLACKSPOT' LABEL

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Town's Anger at Judge's Drugs Comment; RESIDENTS HIT BACK OVER 'BLACKSPOT' LABEL

Article excerpt

Byline: VICKY ROBSON

RESIDENTS in a Northumberland town have hit back at claims they live in a drugravaged blackspot. Comments made by Judge Whitburn at a case he was dealing with on Wednesday at Newcastle Crown Court which concerned the use of drugs in Blyth, have sparked fury among people living and working in the town.

The judge criticised it as "one of those unfortunate areas where there is a considerable amount of drug using and drug dealing".

But Caron Patten, 48, a volunteer, who lives near Blyth town centre, said: "I think that for somebody with that kind of job to say something like that is really shocking. It undoes all of the good work that is going on in the community."

Another resident, retired Kath Nisbet, 61, said: "Years ago it was stated that Blyth was the drugs capital of the North. But it has changed since then. The last time somebody said something like that the house prices around here fell. I am disgusted that he said it."

Others working in the town centre also felt the same and said while Blyth used to be troubled by drugs, a lot had changed since then. Pub landlord Mark Bell, 43, of Blyth town centre, said: "Ten years ago there was a major problem with drugs. But I think the Pubwatch scheme has really helped us and I don't think there is any evidence of it now." John Swinhoe, 69, who has lived in Blyth almost all his life, added: "I think it is a pretty safe place to walk around and I haven't seen any drug taking here."

Tom Smiles, 69, retired, of The Avenues, said: "Years ago it used to be bad and it was terrible, but it's nice enough now. It has definitely changed for the better here."

Helen Mellon, 61, retired, of Blyth, said: "I think it's the same all over, not just in Blyth. There has been a drugs problem in the past, but there are drugs everywhere and I don't agree with what the judge said at all. …

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