East Londonderry MLA George Robinson has described the decision to close Limavady Courthouse as ‘ludicrous’
The Limavady based MLA asked Justice Minster David Forde if he would consider meeting some of the Limavady legal profession to explain the rationale behind the decision to close Limavady courthouse.
Mr Robinson said: “It is a much-needed local facility that will still require financial commitment to maintain it after closure.
“That closure will cause great inconvenience to the vast majority of court users, the legal profession and the PSNI, particularly considering that Londonderry and Coleraine courts are overflowing.”
In response, Minister said that the decision ‘was taken on the basis of a utilisation rate in Limavady of 23·4%’.
He added: “Criminal business received was down 26% and disposed of was down 23% in the last year, with civil and family business already dealt with in Londonderry courthouse.
“Will I meet delegations? No, I will not meet delegations, because that facility was offered during the consultation period and was taken up by a number of local authorities and other groups. That was the appropriate time to have that discussion, not after a decision has been announced.”
MLA Robinson said he was ‘disappointed’ by the Minister’s response.
“Londonderry and Coleraine courthouses are under severe pressure already and the loss of Limavady removes the option to transfer business to relieve the other facilities.
“I am also convinced that there will be greater expense to the public for reimbursement of travel expenses and legal expenses never mind time lost by police officers travelling to attend court proceedings.
“The decision is still short sighted in my mind, and I believe the reductions the Minister quotes may have been engineered to make Limavady an unattractive proposition. I do however remain to be convinced on this point.
“The local legal profession in Limavady have made it very clear to me at their opposition to the closure of Limavady courthouse and I feel it is a missed opportunity for the Minister to speak to a delegation of them.”