Carmarthenshire Council executive board calls for court to remain in Carmarthen
Carmarthenshire's executive board is calling for a court presence to be kept in Carmarthen.
It follows a meeting today where members discussed the proposal by the Ministry of Justice to close both courts in the town.
The plan is to shut both the Carmarthen Law Courts at the Guildhall and the civil, family, tribunal and probate hearing centre at Hill House.
Figures show that usage of the Guildhall is low and Hill House operates at a capacity of around 51%.
The proposal is to transfer the court business to either Swansea, Haverfordwest or Aberystwyth.
The Ministry of Justice has included predicted travel times within its consultation document.
However, Carmarthenshire’s executive board has questioned the accuracy of the figures which they say underestimate travel times from rural areas, and do not take into account frequency of buses or other modes of public transport.
Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said the board’s concern was that it would be very difficult for many people living in rural areas to access the courts.
He said: “The proposal talks about access to justice, however we do not believe that this proposal will give that to many people.
“We question their figures on travelling times and the availability of public transport, we also feel strongly that as the county seat Carmarthen deserves its own court.”
Cllr Pam Palmer proposed that the board responded with a suggestion to keep Hill House open and transfer the Guildhall business there.
She said: “I understand they are looking to rationalise their portfolio of buildings as everyone is.
“However, it is not acceptable to close both courts in Carmarthen. Hill House is a suitable building, as is stated in their report, and it could accommodate all the work currently undertaken in the Guildhall.
“Carmarthen is the centre for justice in this area and it should remain so.”
The executive board decided to respond to the Ministry of Justice with the suggestion that the Hill House facility be retained, and work from the Guildhall transferred there.
They will also be providing accurate information on travel times and public transport, along with consideration for people on benefits or with disabilities.
* The consultation ends on October 8, anyone interested in giving their views can get more information on the website.