Justice Minister’s populist approach on courthouses wastes over £1 million of scarce public funds – Ford

Alliance South Antrim MLA David Ford has said the decision taken by Justice Minister Claire Sugden to retain all courthouses will waste over £1 million of public money.

David Ford said: “During my time as Justice Minister I undertook a substantial consultation exercise on the court estate, including a number of public events and a series of meetings with council delegations and other elected representatives. As a result of this listening process I modified the proposals but announced plans to close six.

“Last October, the current Justice Minister halted these closures, saying it was a personal decision. It was clearly a populist decision taken without evidence being offered.

“The Justice Minister has now confirmed to me that savings of £1.1 million anticipated from my planned rationalisation of the court estate will not now be made by the Courts and Prison Services. In addition to this are the costs associated with probation officers and police officers who are required to attend these six courts, a further waste of public money.

“At a time of scarce financial resources, and in the absence of an agreed budget, this £1 million could have been put to good use, and not wasted on a Minister’s whim.”

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