No alternative yet for Rangiora's district court

Posted 17 May 2012 by MediaStuff
Posted in Business , Media
This item was posted on the Stuff.co.nz website - click here to view the original

 

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UNKNOWN: No alternative has been found yet for the Rangiora court house.
 

The fate of Rangiora's district court remains unknown, after several alternative venues were deemed unsuitable.

The Rangiora court building was closed in November after it was assessed as having a high risk of collapsing in a major earthquake.

Criminal cases were being dealt with at Christchurch court venues, although a registry and public counter facility were still available at the Percival St site.

Law Society Canterbury-Westland branch president Allister Davis said he had suggested some alternative sites to the Ministry of Justice, but ''nothing had come to date''.

''I still fear that the longer Rangiora is closed the harder it will be to get it reopened,'' he said.

''I understand the remedial costs are only $65,000 which is peanuts when you consider they spent $2,000,000 on the temporary Cambridge Courts and are planning more for the Marae.'' Oliver Searle, private secretary to

Courts Minister Chester Borrows, said several alternative temporary sites had been investigated, but none had been suitable.

The Ministry's Canterbury strategic recovery manager, Murray Smith, had met with the Waimakariri District

Council last month to discuss the court becoming part of Rangiora's planned temporary business hub. 

However, the council decided the court was did not fit with the hub's retail focus, Searle said.

An alternative building looked at by the Ministry had also been assessed by engineers as having a high earthquake risk, while building a portable venue on another site would have been ''prohibitively expensive''.

A fourth alternative venue  using space in a lawyer's office for hearings  had also been ruled out after the Ministry deemed the suggested rental arrangement was ''not cost effective''.

A timeframe for quake-strengthening work on the original court house had not yet been established, Searle said.

''The Ministry remains focused on court operations in Christchurch, and strengthening courthouses in Masterton and Dunedin.''

He believed the ''lessons learnt'' from strengthening work in Masterton and Dunedin would be used to inform work on other closed courthouses, including Rangiora.

It was not yet known how long the work in Masterton and Dunedin would take, but an announcement was expected to be made on timeframes for Masterton within the next few weeks, Searle said.

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