Victory has been claimed by campaigners in the fight to prevent a shop selling New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) from opening in Forfar.
At the beginning of April residents rallied to an online petition and Facebook campaign which, combined with accompanying local press coverage highlighting their concerns, shot the issue to the top of the town’s community agenda with local councillors, Angus Council, Forfar Community Council, the area’s MSPs all giving their support.
The shop never opened as a result of the campaign, which was set up by youth worker Adele Douglas-Spiers who, with friends Bobbi Murray and Nikki Leathley, collected more than 3,000 signatures for their petition.
This document was then handed over to Angus North MSP Nigel Don who, in turn, passed it on to Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs.
Forfar councillor Glennis Middleton, who backed the campaign from the beginning, said she is “absolutely delighted” with its success but warned that the community must remain vigilant.
She said: “I congratulate the people involved with the petition who worked very hard with support from all the statutory agencies.
“Our communities should be aware of the work done by the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, and other agencies, that work tirelessly to support everyone who has issues with these substances.
“However, I don’t believe we can rest on our laurels. The success of stopping one shop from opening, I’m sorry to say, doesn’t stop the selling of NPS. My understanding is that drugs can be sourced through the Internet and that is a huge worry for all concerned.
“I’m also very concerned not only of the impact they can have on an individual but the wider impact on communities and all the services involved with trying to stop them.
“I think that in the future we’ll see considerable costs associated with NPS in terms of the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership and the work that it does, but also in terms of cost to the health service where people go where things go wrong.
“It’s a sad fact that because the individual doesn’t know what they’ve taken it becomes extremely difficult for them to be treated.”
Mrs Middleton also emphasised that the problem is not going to disappear given that the substances are now also being used by established drug abusers, but she praised local campaigners and the town for the stance they have taken.
She continued: “My message would be for communities to be vigilant, and to any young person thinking of taking these substances, do not convince yourself that you will be the one who can take them with no repercussions; these drugs do not respect people, gender, age or anything else.
“I think the fact the campaign was led by young people had a huge impact in many different ways and I think other young people will have listened more. The majority of young people are wonderful and the three young women who led this campaign are a huge example to everyone.”