BRADFORD Council is moving a drugs and alcohol intervention service into Shipley town hall - sparking anger and concern among businesses.

The ARCH Initiatives programme will move from nearby Merchants House, on Leeds Road in the town, where it has been for the last six years.

The Council insists it will not cause any problems, despite fears Shipley town centre could end up replicating the problems with street-drinkers that have blighted Bradford's Centenary Square and City Park recently.

Barry Cooper, chairman of Shipley Town Centre Business Partnership, was shocked when told of the move. He said: "We don't want to see a replication of the problems that have been reported about in City Park. Bradford has got massive problems with this sort of thing.

"Leeds has a strategy where they will not place these things in the city centre because it is not about retail. A city or town centre is a retail environment for shops, shoppers and businesses.

"How does the Council feel this will help regeneration?

"We are all about regeneration, footfall and business. We are trying to make the town centre a nice, friendly environment for the community and shopping."

Heidi McKenna, market manager at Shipley Market Hall, said: "I don't believe it should be held in a retail area. It's not that it should not be done whatsoever, but it shouldn't be in retail areas."

Shipley MP Philip Davies questioned what measures the council was putting in place to protect businesses from potential problems such as shoplifting and said: "If I was a retailer I would be completely alarmed if this was going to be within throwing distance of my shop.

"Those with a drug addiction are more likely to be involved in things like shoplifting to help pay for their addiction. It has been a tough time for high street retailers and the last thing they need is losing stock to shoplifters," he said.

ARCH - Advice, Rehabilitation, Counselling and Health - Initiatives is a charity that provides a range of substance misuse services to anyone aged over 18 years affected by drugs and alcohol. It is believed to have between 200 and 300 clients at its Shipley base.

Councillor Andrew Thornton, the Council's executive member for Environment and Sport, said: "This relocation is part of Bradford Council’s overall building strategy to consolidate staff in fewer offices to save money for Council Tax payers and reduce our carbon footprint.

"Arch, who have been providing a service from Shipley for the past six years are moving in to Shipley town hall. They are a charity that primarily provides counselling and training services, operating on an appointment-only basis. They work in partnership with the police and probation service who will also have staff relocating to the town hall.

"Staff moving from Shipley town hall will be joining colleagues in other council buildings."

Cllr Martin Love (Shipley, Green) said: "I have been assured that the people coming to the rehab project will have appointments. It is not a drop-in place. It's not like a place where people will hang around outside."

He said he believed the project users would have a separate, dedicated entrance to the town hall, away from the main public entrance.

Cllr Love, who said the Council would save money by no longer paying rent on Merchant House, added: "I don't think it is anything to worry about but we will keep an eye on it, and if it proves to be an issue we will look at it then."