Wednesday, September 7, 2016

News: Closure of Rotherham courts and what could replace them

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Removal firms have been in court in Rotherham as the County Court and Family Court closed last week and the Magistrates' Court closes by the end of the month.

The Government has been consulting on modernisation plans which aim to reduce the £500m annual cost of the courts estate as the justice system moves towards one "that must be accessible through online services as well as traditional court buildings."

Opened in 1994, the building by the canal and Police Station on Main Street, was dubbed "poor quality." It has ten courtrooms, two county court district judge chambers, 11 cells with secure access to eight courtrooms and interview rooms available for private consultation.

18 members of staff were based at the Rotherham buildings, where operating costs were £640,000 for the 2014/15 financial year and utilisation at the court was approximately 32% of its capacity.

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The closure sees criminal work transferred to Sheffield Magistrates' Court and the County Court work, which covers areas such as children, divorce, domestic violence, housing possession and money claims, transferred to Sheffield County Court.

86 of the original 91 courts identified are closing nationwide. Rotherham is in the second tranche of closures.

The closure will mean that a prominent building will become vacant in Rotherham town centre.

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council urged the Government to think again during the consultation. He said: "This is an important building within our town centre - the regeneration of which has been praised by Mary Portas - and the prospect of it standing empty for any length of time is a concern in and of itself. However, the loss of the service and the principle of local justice goes way beyond this.

"We would lose the principle of magistrates with detailed local knowledge that has always underpinned the magistrates' service in England."

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The recently published town centre masterplan identifies the importance of riverside links and the law courts and police station area is picked out as a key site.

The supplementary planning documents states: "Should the Law Courts and Police Station opt to relocate away from their present sites then it would be expected that there would be a strong residential component as part of any mixed-use scheme that would be developed here. Proposals should bear in mind the requirements of Sites and Policies Local Plan policy SP64 to safeguard community facilities, and also embrace the site's riverside location, opening up this movement route for pedestrians and cyclists."

The document adds that proposals for the Law Courts and Police Station site must first demonstrate that there is no demand for the sites as a community facility.

Historically, the site is known as the site of the "Stattis fair" - a funfair held every year in the car park where the buildings now stand.



Images: Tom Austen


4 comments:

Cllr. Nigel Simpson September 7, 2016 at 11:04 AM  

Perfect place for a high standard hotel with residential
apartments and council owned meeting rooms?
Walking distance to rail and bus stations for easy access
to Sheffield/South Yorkshire and London/Manchester

graham hobson September 7, 2016 at 3:17 PM  

Laughable... What about something for everyone not just the privileged

Mike b September 7, 2016 at 10:17 PM  

what about a proper police station

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