- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
A NEWLY refurbished Amman Valley court could be sentenced to closure — wasting £60,000 court costs, it has been claimed.
Carmarthenshire Council’s deputy leader has warned that Ammanford magistrates court, which has undergone a major refurbishment in the past year, could be closed for good.
Hundreds of signatures have been gathered in the fight to keep the town centre court open.
Government chiefs looking to save cash have targeted the court for possible closure — after already forking out £59,000 on upgrading it, said Councillor Kevin Madge.
“They spent £59,000 on it, that money would be wasted. It’s outrageous really.”
Now campaigners are hoping they can gather thousands of protest signatures before the consultation period on the plans ends on September 15.
Mr Madge said he was worried that people in the Amman Valley would face long journeys to Llanelli if the court shuts, and at the possible loss of jobs.
He said recent figures from Dinefwr magistrates demonstrate that the court is one of the most cost-effective in Wales.
Mr Madge said: “There is strong opposition to closure. If people haven’t got their own transport they have to get to Llanelli by 9.30am, which is impossible, and jobs could go from Ammanford as well.
“The fact is, it has been there for 97 years. Once it has gone there won’t be any court in the whole of this area.”
He added that he had written to Conservative leader at the Assembly, Nick Bourne, AM for Mid and West Wales, to ask him to support the campaign.
The letter states: “The campaign will only succeed if we are united in opposition to this ill-thought-out plan.
“I would ask you to use your influence to persuade your colleagues in the UK Government of the strong case to keep Ammanford Court open.”
Mid and West Wales AM Joyce Watson said: “I’m appalled that the first thing the coalition Government is doing is bringing the axe down in a rural area.
“It is not feasible for people to use public transport to get to Llanelli.
“This is a slash and burn policy that will force people to breach their bail conditions.”
A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Court Service said: “£59,000 was spent on refurbishments and essential maintenance work at Ammanford Magistrates’ Court in the 2009/10 financial year. The works were necessary in order to secure a water-tight and structurally sound building.
“The Lord Chancellor is keen to hear the views of everyone with an interest in local justice arrangements.”