COLCHESTER should be a priority area for multi-million pound funding to combat substance misuse, a councillor has claimed.

Essex County Council has been handed almost £5 million by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities as part of a wider ten year Government strategy.

It is set to boost vital services for people addicted to drugs and alcohol, helping to reduce substance misuse and cut crime across the county.

Colchester councillor for Castle ward Mark Goacher has now called for the city to be the main focus of the major cash injection.

Gazette: Pleased - Mark Goacher said he welcomes the fundingPleased - Mark Goacher said he welcomes the funding (Image: Newsquest)

“This news is very welcome and I certainly think Colchester should be treated as a priority area,” he said.

“I am frequently reading reports from residents about drug related incidents, particularly in the Dutch Quarter and North Station Road area.

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“It generates a lot of emails from residents especially when they encounter drug dealing, but also the petty crime that can result.

“Colchester sees repeat petty burglary, car theft and other opportunistic crimes, all the sort of stuff addiction generates.

Gazette: Cash injection - Mr Goacher called for Colchester to be made a priority for the fundingCash injection - Mr Goacher called for Colchester to be made a priority for the funding (Image: Newsquest)

“We need to help people with an addiction to get off it. It’s not just about being punitive, we need to not only deal with the consequences of crime but the causes.”

Colchester MP Will Quince claimed the landmark £4,915,228 investment will enable the creation of more than 50,000 “high quality” places in drug and alcohol treatment.

It comes amid Government ambitions to deliver a leading treatment and recovery system and reduce drug use to a 30 year low within ten years, as well as cutting down on crime rates.

Gazette: MP - Will QuinceMP - Will Quince (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Quince said: “The funding will enable local authorities to recruit more staff to work with people with drug and alcohol problems, support more prison leavers into treatment and recovery services and invest in enhancing the quality of treatment they provide.

“More people will benefit from residential rehabilitation or inpatient detoxification while improvements to the recovery services will sustain them outside of treatment, helping to reduce relapse rates.”