THOUSANDS are to be spent by a new legal high working group within Torridge District Council.
Members of the council’s Community & Resources committee agreed to release £5,000 to help promote awareness of legal highs.
Committee chairman and council leader Philip Collins told members a budget was needed to bring the issue to the public eye.
He said the money would come from an underspend during the 2013/14 financial year.
However, there were concerns that the working group would be duplicating what had already been done by the Safer North Devon community safety partnership (CSP).
Councillor Andy Boyd said: “I would like to proceed with this with extreme caution. For many years we have delegated to the community safety partnership.
“CSP is working hard on this and we are dealing with it in a very serious manner.
“ They are actively looking at publicity and how to deal with it and I think we would be double funding and duplicating the work.”
Mr Boyd said while it was “nice for councillors to have a discussion” there needed to be a lot of caution.
Mr Collins said he did not expect there to be any duplication.
Councillor Adam Symons reiterated Mr Boyd’s view, adding that a suitable strategy needed to be put in place and that the money should go to the CSP.
Councillor Gaye Tabor requested that someone from the council sit on the CSP group, to which Mr Boyd responded that anyone was welcome to attend the meetings.
Councillor Tony Inch raised the issue that police were powerless to deal with legal highs without government legislation being in place.
Mr Boyd replied: “I can assure all members that work is going on. We will as a council have extensive powers that can be used to benefit the community in this area.”
Councillor Rose Lock asked if the council’s working group had a plan for spending the £5,000.
Mr Collins replied: “We thought it better to have some funding available rather than come back to you in a month’s time and ask for it then, because members looked at this as a matter of urgency.”
Mrs Lock proposed that the money be released once the group had put a plan forward.
This was the proposal approved by members of the committee.