Another nail in the coffin for town

Wednesday 15th July 2015 10:00 pm
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ANOTHER vital service in Abergavenny is being lost as cost-cutting measures by public bodies begin to cut deep.

Just a few weeks ago police confirmed their Tudor Road station was likely to be sold off as part of stringent budget measures across the force.

Now another nail has been rammed into the town coffin after the Ministry of Justice confirmed that the next-door courthouse will go the same way...just a few years after £600,000 was spent on refurbishment of the building.

One senior figure in the town, who wished to remain anonymous, blasted the authorities for 'a total waste of public money.'

He complained: "The court re-opened for about six months after this revamp - and then shut its doors again about 18 months ago for good. It's a massive waste."

Asset lost

Local MP David Davies also expressed regret that his constituency was losing another asset.

He told the Chronicle on Monday, "Obviously, I am very disappointed to have heard this news. It will be very difficult for people involved in criminal cases to travel to Newport's court. It's not easy if you can only get there by bus."

Last year's Mayor, Martin Hickman, whose Castle ward includes the courthouse and station, admitted this week, 'It is a bit of a body blow."

Councillor Hickman, who is also a magistrate, was not surprised by the courthouse announcement - but the police station departure was out of the blue.

"The courthouse has been closed for at least 18 months. This announcement is not a shock.

"But it is not good for local justice. It means Gwent now has just two courts left - one in Newport and the other in Cwmbran. When I started out there were eight."

He hoped that something worthwhile and valuable to the town would replace the buildings if they disappeared under the demolition ball.

"We would want something which would improve the town.

"A housing development is likely. At least there is a good opportunity to do something good. It could be a big development," he said.

The Lord Chancellor's announcement was made through the Ministry of Justice last week.

Caerphilly Magistrates' Court will also be closed.

It's reckoned shutting down Abergavenny will save £30,000 a year. The market value of the building has been estimated at £140,000, well below the cost of the revamp.

Impact report

The Ministry of Justice's 'impact report' on the closures suggested that moving the workload to Newport and Cwmbran would not be a problem for the public.

"As there are regular, affordable and accessible public transport links between Newport and Cwmbran and given that facilities at both courts are superior, we do not believe that the impact of the proposal to close Caerphilly and Abergavenny Magistrates Courts amounts to a particular or substantial disadvantage for those with protected characteristics.

"Therefore we consider the proposals and any resulting impacts will not amount to direct or indirect discrimination within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 and are a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate business aim of making more effective use of the Court Estate and reducing running costs."

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