Court downgrade upsets

Furious residents who showed up to a public meeting with Courts Minister Chester Borrows are far from happy with the outcome.

About 100 people turned out to hear Mr Borrows explain the reasons for the proposed downgrade of Dargaville District Court, which include a drop in crime and the ability to easily complete some court services elsewhere.

"It appears on the face of it that this is a huge imposition and until you start knowing how these services work it seems that this is a huge impingement on justice," he says.

Police will not transport people to Whangarei and some bail hearings will be held at the police station.

The crowd was outraged by his comments that the changes were not of the "magnitude" required to go out to a full community consultation. They were also unhappy at "inaccurate hearing statistics" and say the police station being used as a bail hearing centre is not neutral or fair justice.

Northland Regional Councillor and former Kaipara mayor Graeme Ramsey questioned the consistency of the approach, saying courts such as Huntly used more staff, were closer to another court and only had a slightly higher sitting rate than Dargaville.

He challenged the term "modern" saying most banks have returned to a personal approach because people prefer face-to-face interaction.

He suggested the high cost of these changes would ultimately force the ministry to revert the courthouse back to its present state of use.

While MP Mike Sabin indicated the proposed changes will go ahead, Mr Ramsey encourages people to continue putting thoughts on paper, alongside the Grey Power-initiated petition, to turn the decision.

Dargaville News