Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 Source: Argus, The (UK) Copyright: 2003 Newsquest Media Group Contact: http://www.thisisworthing.co.uk Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2706 Author: Huw Borland CANNABIS COUNCILLOR JOINS CAFE PARTY A political leader joined traders and customers to mark the first anniversary of an alleged cannabis cafe in Worthing. Michael Russell, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Gosport Borough Council, praised staff at Buddy's, in Brougham Road, and criticised political figures in the town for not coming to the party and open day. He said: "If you look at what is going on today, it is fairly clear there are going to be cannabis cafes nationwide. "I just want to make sure that when coffee shops open in Gosport we have the information and knowledge and are able to provide cannabis users with the appropriate safeguards for themselves and for residents." Almost every civic dignitary in Worthing, including MPs and councillors, was sent an invitation on Monday to yesterday's celebrations but none turned up. Coun Russell, who describes himself as an occasional consumer of cannabis in the form of hash cakes and biscuits, said: "I think this is a missed opportunity. "If you are a local politician representing local people, surely the onus is on you to find out what is happening in the community." Sheila Player the leader of Lib Dem-controlled Worthing Borough Council, said: "I was invited but my diary was already full." A 1,000-signature petition from customers supporting the cafes was on show, as well as a 100-name petition by nearby residents and shop owners. Shirley Knapton of the next-door cafe Ali's Pantry, said: "When I first came here this place looked like a hovel but they have really cleaned it up. "They have changed it for the good and they have helped here. They are good people. The people who would shut them down have never met them." A number of people have been charged with drug offences in relation to the Worthing cafes.