A FORMER specialised school for children in Great Warley could be used to pilot a national drug rehabilitation scheme.

The suggestion from Brentwood Council leader Barry Aspinell comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said his party would treat drug users rather than send them to jail.

Mr Aspinell said the vacant pupil referral unit Leverton Hall and House on Dark Lane, which shut down earlier this year, would be an ideal location for a centre which would help drug users back to health before introducing them back into society.

Mr Aspinell said he’ll be writing to Mr Clegg with the proposal, which he believes could form part of a national plan.

He added: “Why should we as rate payers have to pay for these people to be treated on the NHS when they should be taken, in my opinion, to a place where they can be away from the rest of society and allowed to get clean in a way that is acceptable to society.

"If they had a programme were they were on day release to do community work they could shake the habit completely.

“This would be an ideal opportunity to promote such a scheme. We wouldn’t take on drug pushers or dealers, just users.

“This isn’t rocket science. This could be a benefit to Brentwood, County Hall and the government.”

Mr Clegg said his party will vow to scrap prison sentences for possession in its manifesto for next year’s general election.

Those caught with class A substances such as heroin or cocaine would also be spared jail under the plan.

Mr Clegg said it was senseless to put people behind bars where they’ll become even more vulnerable.

Tory leader Louise McKinlay said the idea was another one on Mr Aspinall’s “wish list”.

She said: “With this, Bas Vegas and potholes, Barry Aspinell is highlighting issues the council aren't responsible for.

“If there is something that would take place in Brentwood where there are different agencies involved and it’s going to help people we would support it, but he needs to show more leadership in areas that matter to Brentwood such as housing.

“We have major issues this council needs to look at and deal with such as the Local Development Plan.

“Let’s hear from him on issues that matter instead of something he dreams up over his cornflakes on a Friday morning.”