Calls to revamp Flintshire court after plans are revealed

Reporter:

Matt Jones

CALLS have been made to transform a crumbling courthouse threatened with closure.

Community leaders in Flint learnt a £900,000 plan to redevelop the town’s magistrates’ court into a county court was drawn up as recently as August 2008 – despite being told no plans existed.

Now councillors want to implement the plan and refurbish the courthouse which is under threat as part of plans by the Government to shut 103 magistrates’ courts and 54 county courts across England and Wales.

Flint county councillor Ian Roberts has been fighting the closure along with other members of the town council.

He said: “We were originally told by this Government there were no plans. There was a plan for the refurbishment and that would have been for Flint Magistrates’ Court to have been used as a county court and it would have cost £900,000.

“Most of Flintshire is serviced by Rhyl County Court, which is closing, and Chester. It makes considerable sense to have a county court in Flint.

“This shows plans were under consideration for the complete refurbishment of Flint Magistrates’ Court. It is a great shame that the current Government does not give local justice the priority the last Government did. I think the plans should be put into effect.”

The feasibility study was revealed after a freedom of information request by Flint Town Council to Her Majesty’s Courts Service.

Cllr Roberts said compared to the £10 million spent on the refurbishment of Mold courthouse the figure was modest.

He said: “We have heard that a number of bodies are very concerned with the closure, particularly the coroner. We have a senior magistrate sitting on Flint Town Council opposing the closure and we have Carl Sargeant AM, Sandy Mewies AM and MP David Hanson opposed to the closure.

“The whole plans for the closure of Flint Magistrates’ Court have been in disarray. There is no acceptance for the need for closure. It would make an excellent county court.”

Cllr Roberts also said with refurbishment work taking place at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court the Flint courthouse would be brought back into use for criminal cases.

The study describes the building as needing significant restoration and improvement work, describes the ceiling, walls and floors as being worn and tired and as having a lack of disabled toilets.

See full story in the Leader

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