Fri, 22 Apr 2016
THE date for the final closure of Newbury’s courthouse has been announced.
It will have heard its last case by the end of June.
The deadline was confirmed this week by a spokeswoman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, Zoe Campbell.
There has been speculation among some staff that the building will be sold off for housing as the site is in a prime location, near the town centre with waterside views.
But any deal could potentially be complicated by the fact that the courthouse is joined to the adjacent police station via a cell complex.
Ms Campbell said: “We own the freehold of the court building. Thames Valley Police owns the police station.
“We have sold court buildings connected to police stations in the past, so it’s not an issue in terms of any future sale of the building.”
A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police, James Williams, said: “Should the court be sold then we would have to work through any separation issues.
“But these are not insurmountable and there would be no adverse impact on the police station.”
The courthouse in Mill Lane was opened amid much fanfare in April, 1966.
For decades, civic leaders fought against its proposed closure, warning that losing the ability to dispense justice locally would make Newbury little more than a suburb of Reading.
In 2010 the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales opposed the move, warning it would result in demoralised magistrates quitting, defendants failing to attend, postponed hearings and impossible court workloads.
He queried the figures which purported to show the Newbury courthouse was underused, expressed concern about access from rural areas and wondered whether “even a modest increase in workload” could be absorbed by a central court such as Reading without “significant difficulty”.
From July, cases from West Berkshire will be heard at Reading, Slough and Maidenhead.