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Courts: Closures

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 19301, tabled on 9 December 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the monthly cost is of (a) each court building which has been closed but not disposed of since May 2010 and (b) the 91 courts considered for closure in his Department's recent consultation on that subject.

Answered on

15 January 2016

Details of the operational costs of courts considered for closure can be found in the consultation document on the provision of the court and tribunal estate in England and Wales, which can be accessed via the following website:


https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposal-on-the-provision-of-court-and-tribunal-es/consult_view


The Department is committed to disposing of surplus property assets expeditiously and reducing holding costs. As of 10 December 2015 a total of 80 courts closed under the Court Estate Reform Programme have been sold attracting disposal receipts of £49.6m.


The disposal of surplus property assets is dependent on a number of factors, such as the market, potential future use, location and the fact that some are occupied in part by the police and local authorities which also make disposal difficult. Nine of the closed court buildings which have not been disposed of are either under offer or on the market. Of those which have not yet been brought to the market, two court buildings have shared locations with the police, which means the future of the building is tied in with the Police Station, one has a site contamination issue and the other three were closed only within the last seven months. We are working on bringing all of them to the market as soon as possible.


There are temporary costs associated with making sure unused buildings are kept secure, protecting the fabric of the building and property rates payable to local councils. In addition, decommissioning the buildings to make them ready for sale results in some costs which cannot be disaggregated from the overall running costs. However, these are significantly lower than the costs of running the courts when open, which will have included estates costs, staffing costs and the cost of the judiciary.


Table: Monthly cost of each court building which has been closed but not disposed of since May 2010 as at 10 December 2015


Court building

Average monthly cost1

Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court4

Not available

Alton Magistrates’ Court2

£9,828

Bracknell Magistrates’ Court

£5,319

Cirencester Magistrates’ Court

£1,472

Coleford Magistrates’ Court

£1,561

Keighley Magistrates’ Court (sitting at Bingley)

£2,011

Knutsford Crown Court2

£9,274

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court5

Not available

Lyndhurst Magistrates’ Court

£1,783

Oswestry Magistrates’ Court / County Court

£2,269

Pontefract Magistrates’ Court

£1,957

Stourbridge County Court6

Not available

Spalding Magistrates’ Court2

£3,909

Totnes Magistrates’ Court3

£790

Towcester Magistrates’ Court3

£445


Footnotes:

  1. Monthly cost based on financial year data 2014/15 (unless otherwise stated). Holding costs include rates, fuel and utilities, facilities management, telephony and other property costs.
  2. These courts closed in financial year 2014/15 and the stated average monthly cost is therefore based on the last three months of 2014/15. The stated costs for these 3 courts are abnormally high because maintenance costs are likely to include decommissioning costs which are incurred shortly after closure. It is not possible to strip out any decommissioning costs from this answer without incurring disproportionate costs.
  3. Monthly cost based on financial year data 2013/14 and 2014/15 in order to address accounting adjustments made in 2014/15.
  4. Abergavenny Magistrates Court closure was announced on 9 July 2015 but has not yet been decommissioned.
  5. Liverpool (Dale Street) Magistrates' Court was integrated into the QEII Law Courts as of 30 June, creating a single centre for crime in the city of Liverpool. It is not possible to disaggregate the costs of the Dale Street premises from those of the operational court without incurring disproportionate costs.
  1. Stourbridge County Court was being used for the back office function for Dudley County and Family Court until 7 August 2015.
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