Courts job losses known soon

ANDREW MACKAY
Last updated 11:03 14/11/2012

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Upper Hutt Leader

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Upper Hutt District Court staff whose jobs are in limbo will know by mid-December which positions will go, the Ministry of Justice has said.

Minister of Courts Chester Borrows and the Ministry of Justice's Tony Fisher answered questions at a public meeting at the Upper Hutt Cossie Club, after the announcement of the permanent closure of the court.

In October, the Ministry of Justice announced the Upper Hutt District Court would not reopen and court staff and cases would be permanently shifted to Lower Hutt where the court currently sits.

About 60 people attended the meeting where questions were raised including the cost of fixing the building, when staff might know about jobs at the court and if the cost for the public to get to Lower Hutt had been calculated.

Mr Borrows said the initial estimate to strengthen the earthquake-prone Upper Hutt courthouse was about $200,000.

A second estimate put the cost at $700,000, a figure which was then peer reviewed.

One local builder said he would do it for half the price "and put his name to it".

Mr Borrows said costs often spiralled and this was found with the Masterton District Court where the initial estimate of $350,000 snowballed to a total cost of $3.5 million.

Justice of the Peace Pat Christianson said the ministry was taking something away but not replacing it with anything.

"What other things are you putting into the community instead?"

Some elderly people had difficulty accessing online forms and would prefer face to face contact, she said.

Mr Borrows said they were putting in place the technology to do the same tasks online. This would reduce the need for people to travel to the court, he said.

He ruled out demolishing the building, saying it was subject to land-banking for Ngati Toa. Changes to the court were expected to be in place by early March next year.

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- Upper Hutt Leader

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