FEARS have been raised that a new pharmacy on a Galashiels estate would make the area look like a ghetto.
NHS Borders is currently seeking views on an application by Motherwell-based Elixir Healthcare to turn a former hairdressers in Marmion Road into a chemists.
However, a public meeting last week in Langlee Primary School heard a series of concerns.
Galashiels community councillor and Langlee resident John McLaren believed the pharmacy would need protection – the adjacent post office was robbed at knifepoint in 2006 – which could ruin the local area.
He added: “They will need to protect the pharmacy in some way when it is not open. If they use metal shutters a large part of the time it will affect the visual amenity of the area. It would look like a ghetto.”
David Babington, who lives above where the pharmacy would be situated if it receives approval from the NHS Borders Pharmacy Practices Committee (PPC), added his voice to the opposition.
Mr Babington told the meeting: “I am dead against it. It will spoil the look of the area.
“I don’t think it is necessary as we already have a number of other pharmacists in the town.
“Anyone wanting to collect medication who doesn’t have a car can use the reliable bus service.”
Others worried that the pharmacy would provide prescriptions to heroin addicts for substitute drug methadone.
Langlee resident Kirsty McPherson added: “Even if it is a supervised methadone programme, I still think it is in the wrong place. It will attract trouble.
“Tesco and Boots’ pharmacies are in retail areas of the town, whereas this would be in a residential area.
“I can’t see what it would bring. There are other facilities in the town who can deliver for the elderly or disabled.”
But PC Jim Watters, who attended the meeting, said he could find no reports of police being called to a Borders pharmacy to deal with someone dealing in methadone.
He added: “Drug usage is about average in Langlee (compared to other areas of the town). We have had calls up to Beech Avenue and there have been high-profile searches in that area, but I can’t say we have had anything of note at Marmion Road.”
Galashiels Community Council chairman Ian Purvis said: “There is no way it can be seen as an asset to the community. It would only be an asset to drug users.”
And Langlee Residents’ Association chair Judith Cleghorn added: “We want to enhance Langlee. I would prefer to see a bakery or something else worthwhile.”
An NHS Borders spokeswoman said under national regulations it must consult with the public on all pharmacy regulations before the PPC meets.
Describing the process, the spokeswoman said: “The role of the PPC is to administer the contract application process and determine whether the application is ‘necessary or desirable in order to secure adequate provision of pharmaceutical services in the neighbourhood in which the premises are located’.
“In determining ‘necessary and desirable’ the PPC will use the information provided in the applicant’s assessment and will consider the neighbourhood and existing pharmaceutical service provision.
“They will also assess the application against the Pharmaceutical Care Services Plan.
“Once evidence and comments have been gathered, the PPC meets to take a decision on the application. This decision is based on the evidence provided.”
TheSouthern attempted to contact Elixir Healthcare, but our calls were not returned.
Anyone with comments on the application can submit them in writing to Alison McNeillage, Primary Care Contracts Manager, NHS Lothian, Pentland House (Ground Floor), 47 Robb’s Loan, Edinburgh, EH14 1TY, by Monday.