A POPULAR play area has become a haven for drug users, it has been claimed.

Community leaders say Dee Park, off Bridge Street, Shotton, has been taken over by drinkers and drug users who leave smashed bottles, drugs paraphernalia and butane gas canisters, believed to have been used for solvent abuse, strewn across the field.

Drug experts have said gas sniffers are putting their lives at risk with butane responsible for the vast majority of solvent abuse deaths.

Shotton town councillor Elwyn Jones has been contacted by worried residents who say the park is becoming a no-go zone.

He said: “People have been sniffing butane gas and there are cider and spirit bottles and cans on the recreation area.

“There are smashed bottles, empty gas canisters and bags with cannabis leaves printed on them. Groups of drug users have taken it over and are deterring others from using it.

“If I were a parent, I would be wary of letting my children go there.

“It is a shame to see such an area being made very dangerous for children playing and trashed for the wildlife that lives in the area.

“When it is drugs it is very intimidating for people to come forward and speak out.”

The park is a popular site for junior and senior football clubs.

It is believed to be owned by Corus, though a small section is part of Flintshire Council’s Wepre Riverside Park and joins the National Coastal Access Path and National Cycle Way.

Cllr Jones said: “It is very sad. They are ruining the enjoyment for the children. It is well-known what is going on there and a lot of people have said they are fed up.”

He added that on previous occasions syringes had also been found in the park.

Nick Dwyer of solvent abuse charity Solve It said butane gas was responsible for 80 per cent of solvent abuse deaths.

He is now urging parents to look out for signs of drug abuse in their children.

He said: “It is an instant killer and is hugely dangerous. It can cause cardiac arrest and it can also cause asphyxiation. This is the worst thing a young person could do.

“Parents should look out for a sudden change in behaviour, a strong chemical smell on clothes, soreness and redness around the eyes and spots on the nose and mouth from liquid which has run down the face.”

The landowners were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Anyone with information should call North Wales Police on 101.