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Russell Brand lends support against closure of Burton Addiction Centre's sister site

Fri 9 Dec 2016

High-profile actor and comedian Russell Brand has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save the Burton Addiction Centre O'Connor Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme from closure.

The centre is facing closure because of an £800,000 funding cut, with fears that if it did close, there would be knock-on effects for its sister centre in Station Street, Burton.

More than 37,000 people have signed an online petition to try to keep the centre open ahead of a Staffordshire County Council meeting to discuss the proposed cuts on Thursday, December 8.

Staffordshire County Council has had to make £15 million of extra savings after clashing with the NHS over the use of resources within the Better Care Fund. Councillor Alan White, cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, said: "We had no choice but to review the funding we currently provide to some non-statutory health, care and welfare services.

"Like everyone who has signed this petition, we recognise the terrible impact drugs and alcohol can have on people's lives and our priority now is to work with partners such as the BAC O'Connor centre to support those who need help the most with the £5m a year we will still be investing in these services."

The centre was launched in 2007 and provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation support for up to 300 people every year. However, it has fallen victim to public-sector funding cuts. Now, its possible closure could mean patients are transferred to the BAC in Burton which is already struggling with cuts.

Mr Brand, who once battled drink and drug addictions himself, has appealed to the council to reconsider the proposed cuts when it debates the issue.

He said: "I know the council faces many difficult decisions but the BAC is literally transforming lives. The money they spend in getting people clean will pay great dividends in the future. Think of this as an investment in the future of the county. The centre does wonderful work creating marvellous citizens."