A COUNCIL chief has written to residents over controversial plans to move social services into their area.

People living on Smithfield, in Pity Me, Durham, fear they will suffer crime, anti-social behaviour and drug use if Durham County Council care for vulnerable families is moved to Priory House, currently a financial services office.

Now Peter Coe, a development manager in the council’s regeneration and economic development department, has written to residents answering a series of questions.

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He says 41 staff are to be moved from Hopper House, off North Road, to Priory House, comprising the Looked After Children and Assessment and Intervention teams.

Mr Coe says the service was not moved to County Hall because that building is full to capacity and its public nature would have made it impossible to ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of service users.

He continues: “There is absolutely no reason to suggest that users of the service present a risk to ordinary members of the public or residents living near to Priory House.

“The teams moving in are extremely experienced and have well established risk control mechanisms in place.

“Risk assessments are undertaken as a matter of course and risk controls put in place.”

Framwellgate and Newton Hall county councillor Mark Wilkes said he was waiting to see if residents still had concerns.

Ian Thompson, the council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic development, previously said the police had received no reports of incidents relating to the service in the last five years at Hopper House and most of the work would take place off site.