Suspected drink driver ploughs into Burnley refuge centre
A REFUGE for night-time revellers in Burnley town centre has been put out of action after a suspected drink driver ploughed into it.
The 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drink driving after crashing his silver Toyota Celica into the Retreat 'n' Recover building in Hammerton Street, Burnley.
The centre is used a safe haven for clubbers in need of medical attention or a listening ear.
Yesterday the large windows were boarded up at the centre which is managed by the council as part of the Community Safety partnership.
It opens every Friday and Saturday night and is staffed by an A&E triage nurse and police who assist people who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol for care before they are taken home.
It has also been used by street pastors who patrol Burnley town centre helping people and ensuring they are able to get home.
The incident happened shortly after 5.30pm on Sunday when the driver - who registered almost three times the legal limit in a roadside breath test - crashed his car trying to turn round left into Hammerton Street from Hargreaves Street.
The man was uninjured in the crash, but it caused substantial damage to the front of the building, which will now be closed for up to three weeks
Police said he tried to flee the scene, but he was arrested.
A breath test showed a reading of 86 microgrammes. The legal limit is 35.
The man was charged with driving a motor vehicle under the influence of excess alcohol, and failing to stop after an accident. He was bailed to appear in court on February 13.
Burnley Council is looking into other venues to hold the service, so that revellers still have somewhere safe to go.
Joanne Swift, Head of Streetscene at Burnley Council said: “It has been made safe and will be closed until the repairs are completed. This could take up to three weeks. “We are in the process of identifying an alternative location for this service whilst repairs are done, which is likely to be in the same building."
Temporary Inspector Steve Ride, from Burnley police, said: “This is another example of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drink, which due to the location could have been a lot worse than it was. “It was a Sunday afternoon in Burnley town centre and there could have been pedestrians around.”
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: "I hope they throw the book at him. It's not great that it's going to take three weeks to repair the damage. We just need to get it back up and running as soon as possible."
Council leader Julie Cooper said: "Drink driving has many, often tragic, consequences, and this is another added cost. “This service also actually saves the NHS a lot of money, so it will be costing the taxpayer money while it’s out of action.”