Government rides roughshod over local communities with further court closures
11 Dec 2013
The Public Service Association is accusing the government of riding roughshod over smaller communities with a proposal to permanently shut down two more local courthouses.
The Minister for Courts has announced a proposal which would see all court services withdrawn from Rangiora and Balclutha because the courts are being formally closed.
PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says “the removal of court services affects smaller communities and also impacts on local policing and legal services. It’s yet another example of the government taking away accessible public services from the regions.”
He says the closure of the Rangiora court in particular doesn’t make sense.
“The Minister for Courts Chester Borrows claims Rangiora Court services have been successfully operating out of Christchurch but we think the local community would disagree with that.”
“The court caters to a wide area which includes the entire Waimakariri and Hurunui districts and is a region which has seen a lot of population growth following the Christchurch earthquakes, with more projected.”
“It’s a busy court with a lot of lawyers and services based around it and moving services permanently will cause on-going disruption and inconvenience.”
Mr Wagstaff says “our members have told us that local residents have found it very inconvenient having to make what can be an hour-and-a-half trip into Christchurch for court and the community was very hopeful that full court services would be returned to Rangiora.”
The PSA also says there’s been no consultation with unions or other stakeholders in the lead-up to the proposal and the timeline for feedback is ridiculously short.
“The public and stakeholders have been given until the end of this week to make submissions on the closure plans with a final decision expected before Christmas. That is an unacceptably short timeframe and shows no respect for the communities involved,” says Mr Wagstaff.