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Bracknell Magistrates' Court could be sold off

Published: 18 Jun 2014 17:450 comments

BRACKNELL Magistrates' Court could be sold if HM Courts & Tribunals wishes come true.

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In a statement today, it said: “We are consulting locally on a proposal to close Bracknell Magistrates’ Court.

“The court has not been used since January 2012, due to the poor condition of the building.

"Trial work that was previously heard at Bracknell has since been dealt with primarily at Reading Magistrates' Court which is a modern, purpose-built courthouse with better facilities and good transport links. Berkshire is also served by three other magistrates’ courts located in Slough, Maidenhead and Newbury."

It added it is committed to running an efficient and effective service which provides value for money.

The statement continued: "In proposing to close Bracknell Magistrates’ Court we have taken into account that:

No cases have been listed at the court since January 2012;

Since the decision was made to locally stop listing at the court, cases have successful been absorbed into other local sites. Primarily, the trial work has been heard at Reading Magistrates’ Court, whilst there are also magistrates’ courts in Berkshire located in Slough, Maidenhead, and Newbury.

All other magistrates’ venues in Berkshire have good transport links from Bracknell Magistrates’ Court. Reading is approximately 10 miles away, Slough is located 12 miles away, and Maidenhead eight miles away. Newbury is 31 miles away.

The site at Bracknell is in a poor state of repair, and is not fit for hearing cases. The building has no independent central hearing or air conditioning, and a limited supply of hot water. The flat roof is in a state of poor repair, the judicial areas are in need of major refurbishment, and wheelchair users are unable to access the first floor hearing rooms. Although the building is linked to the police station with shared custody facilities, the police have decommissioned the custody suite as unfit for purpose.

Reading Magistrates' Court is a nine courtroom centre (seven magistrates’ and two dual purpose courtrooms). It has good facilities for disabled users; separate waiting areas for prosecution and defence witnesses; a vulnerable witness suite available with video link equipment for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses.

As the site at Bracknell is no longer used, there are no immediate travel implications for court users, who have used other magistrates’ courts in the area since January 2012.

There are no staff based at the building, so there is no requirement for relocations or redundancies. The Presiding Judges were made aware of proposals to consult on the future of the court, and have not raised any objections.

The closure of Bracknell Magistrates’ Court would enable the Council to consider the site as part of any possible future regeneration of the town centre."

A public consultation on the future of the site will close on July 30.

The consultation paper can be viewed at: http://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/bracknell-magistrates-court-proposal-on-its-future

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