“You are taking on Middle England and we in Hockley Heath don’t want you.”
That was the message loud and clear from residents of the Solihull village who crammed in to a public meeting last Thursday (September 1) to hear why a local country hotel has been earmarked as the site of a drug rehabilitation centre.
The meeting spilled out in to the local park as angry residents turned out in force to hear a presentation from the Right Start charity, the new owners of the former Aylesbury Country House Hotel.
Supported by a PR agency, Waseem Yaqub, Right Start’s project leader, faced at least 200 people including Meriden MP, Caroline Spelman, Solihull Council Leader Ken Meeson (Con, Dorridge & Hockley Heath) and Kenilworth and Southam MP, Jeremy Wright.
The clinic will be marketed at wealthy individuals and families from Britain, America and the Middle East and Mr Yaqub faced a barrage of questions from locals who became frustrated when answers were not forthcoming.
Mr Yaqub said: “We believe there is a market to bring our new cutting edge methodology and new medical processes here and we will be working with specialists in America and Britain in addiction therapies.
“We have chosen Aylesbury House - which will be known as Hyatt House and Wellbeing Centre - because of its secluded location, well matured grounds and good transport links.”
But a clearly angry audience accused the spokesman of being ‘ill prepared’ with answers and demanded to know why the project’s architect was not at the meeting or health professionals.
Residents also accused the charity of employing security guards with dogs to stop walkers from using the public footpaths running through the 12.5 acre estate - an accusation that Mr Yaqub denied.
In two instances racist slurs were hurled at Mr Yaqub but residents quickly moved to distance themselves from the comments.
Locals also voiced concerns that the presence of drug addicts in the village could attract drug dealers to the area.
Coun Ken Meeson said: “I do have an issue on the legality of bringing drug addicts into this country.
“We have enough of our own.”
John and Pauline Jones from Meadow Close added: “We are against it - it’s not in keeping with the village.”
Right Start met with Lapworth villagers on Tuesday (September 6) and will speak at Hockley Heath Parish Council’s next meeting on Thursday September 15 at 8.pm in The Pavilion.
A planning application is set to be submitted to Warwick District Council at the end of September.