Mayor calls for court closure rethink
Mayor Wayne Guppy is calling for the Ministry of Justice to reconsider its decision to permanently close the Upper Hutt District courthouse.
The court was closed temporarily when the building was found to be earthquake prone earlier in the year. Upgrade costs were expected to be around the $300,000 mark, but in early October the ministry announced that the closure would become permanent.
Understanding that a final decision is to be made in the second week of December, with the official stamp of Cabinet, Mayor Guppy is calling for the ministry and politicians to reconsider.
"It's all very well for them to sit there in the Beehive and 'streamline' costs and services but they need to understand that this decision is actually undermining the fabric of our community," says Mr Guppy.
"People need contact with local people to connect and know that their needs are being met. We need a visual and tangible presence for the excise of justice in our communities."
The mayor and council chief executive hosted a public meeting with Chester Borrows, Minister for Courts, last month to discuss with him the implications the decision has for the Upper Hutt community.
"We wanted the minister to see the real effects this decision could have on people and their access to justice in the community," says Mr Guppy.
"We need to understand that this isn't just about the provision of a service that can be meted out through the internet. This is a relational issue, one between the entire community and the justice system. It's time the politicians listened to the people in the communities. They need to consider just how important this issue is."