Opposite where I live in Trinity Gardens there is a vacant council property.  The fact that it is has been vacant for over 3 years is surprising.  The fact that it is one of the last council street properties in the area is amazing.  These flats change at prices between £400,000 and £450,000 so this means everyone is waiting and watching.  What and who or is going to be imposed on us this time.  This may seem harsh, but the last time the council rehoused someone in a Brighton Terrace property, the place was a crack den inside of a week.   

The same could be said of the DAAT Centre – what are we going to get?  How is it going to affect us?  The DAAT Centre was imposed upon the residents of Brigton Terrace.  Since then we have been trying to ready ourselves for what might happen.  We have become a string of gated communities with good lighting and secure bin spaces.  Anecdotally at least the number of drug users dropping in to shoot up or smoke their crack seems to have dropped off.  However, news travels fast amongst the drug using community; especially when it takes over two months to get an entryphone system repaired – so stories of prostitutes turning tricks or people smoking crack on the stairwells are beginning to resurface. 

The removal of one telephone box used by drug users in Tunstall Street means that they’ve migrated to the telephone box outside the LloydsTSB Bank in Acre Lane making customers acutely, anxiously, aware when withdrawing cash.

 We, the local community, have been coping with the security measures.  We have been coping with the developers – playing fast and loose with the building requirements – they are not supposed to work at weekends – i.e. they ignored this when it suited them and only stopped when the heavy demolition work had been completed. 

We like SLAM are conscious of the opening date slipping: July became September became October is becoming November and is possibly after Christmas.  We have recently just seen the plans for the Centre.  We are curious as to how things are going to operate and whether we will have input

. We have watched as the dedicated Warden transmuted into a PCSO.  We are sensible enough to realise that what we want is dedicated time rather than one dedicated officer and this is being negotiated.

The new liaison person for the development smarmily told us that in his opinion the residents always settle down after the drug centres/prisons/bail hostels are up and in operation.  I hope he is right.  I hope that the DAAT Centre is like Kryptonite to the chaotic drug users in our vicinity and keeps them at a distance – I’d settle for Brixton Road and Acre Lane.  But – What about the people who will be using the Centre?  The ones trying to change their lives – how will my neighbours and I respond to them when we find them in our lives?  I don’t know?  But we are waiting and watching to see what we get.