Consultation into future of Neath Magistrates' Court
THE magistrates courts in Neath and Port Talbot could close with all cases being transferred to Swansea.
HM Courts and Tribunals yesterday announced the consultation on the future of Neath Magistrates' Court, proposing its closure.
A spokeswoman for HMCTS said that proposals suggested the Neath court — which is earmarked for demolition as part of retail developments in the town — should close, and that Neath and Port Talbot benches should merge with Swansea justices — with all work transferring to Swansea Magistrates' Court. A spokeswoman said: "Neath Magistrates' Court is underused and requires an estimated £1.3 million investment for maintenance work.
"The location of the court is also interfering with plans for significant redevelopment of the area by Neath Port Talbot Council.
"HMCTS has not been able to identify another viable or affordable site within Neath and keeping the court open does not represent best value for the taxpayer."
Port Talbot's Justice Centre, which opened at a cost of £3 million, does not hear many criminal cases in the town — because it does not have cells. The move means Neath Port Talbot will be left without a criminal court of its own, although civil and family cases will still be heard.
A HMCTS spokeswoman added: "Swansea Magistrates' Court is a modern, purpose built courthouse with good transport links, excellent facilities and is Equality Act compliant. The proposal would allow HM Courts and Tribunals Service to ensure that its estate is used more efficiently and would offer the organisation savings of around £220,000 a year."
The consultation is seeking the views of users, magistrates, judges and solicitors to understand the impact the proposal.
To give your views, visit https://consult.justice.gov.uk by November 7.