£22k a month for empty court building

FINANCIAL DRAIN The former Dewsbury Magistrates Court
FINANCIAL DRAIN The former Dewsbury Magistrates Court

An empty magistrates’ court which is costing more than £20,000 a month to maintain should be reopened, a councillor has said.

Labour councillor Paul Kane has written to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling, asking for Dewsbury Magistrates to be reopened.

The purpose-built court house was closed in March 2012 alongside 141 other magistrates and county courts as part of government cost-cutting measures.

But it is still costing £22,000 a month in maintenance and security bills, figures released by the Ministry of Justice show.

In his letter, Dewsbury East’s Coun Kane wrote: “As chairman of the Dewsbury Regeneration Board, I believe it a travesty that the building is not being used and so much money is being spent on its upkeep.

“Surely it would make more sense to spend money on keeping it open rather than wasting so much on maintaining an empty building.

“As chairman of the board I find it a continuous frustration that services are being removed from the town which causes great distress to our community and a financial loss to the retailers in the town.”

Deputy leader of Kirklees Council David Sheard, a former magistrate who refused to transfer to the Huddersfield court, described it as a “pointless closure”.

He added: “In a way it’s not surprising – empty buildings cost a lot of money. If they were going to shut it down they should have found a buyer first.

“It was purpose-built as a magistrates court and they always knew it would cost a fortune to do something else with it.

“Even if it was just reopened for family courts and civil matters it would save people travelling to Huddersfield.”