Ipswich: Drug team following “old” rules in Iceni decision

SUFFOLK: The organisation that took away Iceni’s contract to provide services to drug addicts in Ipswich was following “old” rules laid out by the previous government.

The county councillor in charge of delivering adult services in Suffolk said he wished the rules had been changed by the new government already, but in the absence of any change the officials running the Drug And Alcohol Team (DAAT) had little choice.

Suffolk cabinet member Colin Noble said: “I want local people to be able to provide local solutions to issues. I wish that could have happened in this case.

“But the DAAT were following the rules that were laid down by the previous government and that is what led to this decision.

“The county council will be talking to Iceni to see what we can do to help them in this situation but so far as the DAAT was concerned I can see the problems they had.”

Mr Noble said the two groups that have been awarded contracts to work on drug rehabilitation, Open Road and Crime Reduction Initiatives, had built up good relations elsewhere in the country.

He emphasised there was no councillor involvement in the decision by DAAT, which is made up of professionals from organisations across the county, including the primary care trust, the police and the probation service as well as the county council which provides the administrative support.

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Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said he accepted that according to the rules there was nothing the elected members at Suffolk County Council could have done to change the decision.

“I have spoken to Colin Noble and I know he is frustrated by the position the county has found itself in.”

But Mr Gummer said the Iceni controversy needed to be an object-lesson to the county as it looks to divest services over the next few years.

He said: “There is a danger that we will end up with a few mega-charities and other organisations bidding to run services across the country and that is not what localism is about.

“I know the county council is keen to find local solutions and I hope they succeed in that – but this is an object lesson in how that can go wrong.”

n Send your message of support to the Project Iceni – Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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