Press Release – Upper Hutt City Council
Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy today reiterated his call for the Ministry of Justice to reconsider its decision to make permanent the arrangements surrounding the Upper Hutt District Court. The Upper Hutt court was closed temporarily when the building was found to be earthquake prone earlier in the year. Upgrade costs were expected to be around the $300,000 mark, but on 3 October the ministry made the announcement that the temporary arrangements would become permanent.
Understanding that a final decision is to be made in the second week of December, with the official stamp of Cabinet, Mayor Guppy is calling for the ministry and politicians to reconsider.
“It’s all very well for them to sit there in the Beehive and ’streamline’ costs and services but they need to understand that this decision is undermining the fabric of our community,” said Mr Guppy. “People need contact with local people to connect and know that their needs are being met. We need a visual and tangible presence for the excise of justice in our communities.”
The Mayor and Council Chief Executive hosted a public meeting with Chester Borrows, Minister for Courts, on 12 November to discuss with him the implications the decision has for the Upper Hutt community.
“We wanted the minister to see the real effects this decision could have on people and their access to justice in the community,” said Mr Guppy. “We need to understand that this isn’t just about the provision of a service that can be meted out through the Internet. This is a relational issue -one between the entire community and the justice system. It’s time the politicians listened to the people in the communities. They need to consider just how important this issue is.”
Some of the concerns from community groups and local lawyers were highlighted this week in local community newspaper, the Upper Hutt Leader, which confirmed Mr Guppy’s sentiments toward the decision.
“Because we already have the ‘temporary’ model in place, we have enough feedback to tell that this is not a good idea. I agree that it is already putting stress on the Upper Hutt community. Not only that, we are still to hear from Mr Borrows that he has listened to, and taken on board, our concerns. This isn’t just about what works for the New Zealand Government and its fiscal aspirations, but about what is best – all things considered – for our citizens and communities.”