12:28pm Tuesday 10th June 2014
CAERPHILLY could lose its magistrates court as the Ministry of Justice has announced a consultation on plan to close it.
The Ministry of Justice said on Monday the poor state of Caerphilly Magistrates Court on Mountain Road and that of Abergavenny Magistrates Court, which is also earmarked for the axe, was the reason for the proposed closures - with an estimated £1.4 million would be required to improve the two buildings.
Court one at Caerphilly Magistrates’ Court had to be shut for repairs in June 2013 after a section of the court roof became loose.
If the closures go ahead, the nearest magistrates courts would be in Cwmbran and Newport. There would be no magistrates court left in the Rhymney Valley. Previously, there were courts also operating in Bargoed and Pontlottyn.
A spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service said: "HM Courts and Tribunals Service is consulting locally on proposals to close Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court and Caerphilly Magistrates’ Court (Gwent). Both courts are underused and require significant expenditure on refurbishment.
"The fall in criminal business across Gwent means that maintaining magistrates’ court sittings in four separate locations across the area does not represent the best use of the estate or taxpayer’s money. HM Courts & Tribunals Service is committed to running an efficient and effective service which provides value for money."
The closure of Abergavenny Magistrates Court would result in an annual saving of £30,000 and a saving of £50,000 for the court in Caerphilly. The Ministry of Justice said better facilities at Cwmbran and Newport Magistrate's Courts as a reason for the closure and said that both courts have successful absorbed a significant workload from the Caerphilly and Abergavenny courts.
There are no administrative staff permanently based at either courts as there is a separate administrative centre based at the Crown Court at Newport. In Gwent, trials are listed for the first available suitable court date in any of the courthouses and it is already common practice for users to travel to various courthouses within Gwent for hearings.
The consultation closes on July 21, 2014. The consultation document can be found at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/gwent-magistrates-courts-proposals-for-the-future
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