Borrows defends stance on court

By Annette Lambly


Hundreds of people are expected at a public protest demonstration outside the Dargaville courthouse today when the community rallies in an attempt to retain full court services in the town.

Organisers are encouraging anyone with an interest in "justice for small communities" to be there.

The protest rally planned for 12.15pm today is one of several last-ditch attempts to influence the Minister of Courts, Chester Borrows, not to downsize the Dargaville District Court to a "hearings only" court.

Last month's announcement has fuelled anger among community members, who question the logic, particularly as they say no cost saving has been identified.

"If there is no benefit to the taxpayer and it hurts the community why is the Government doing this?"asks regional councillor Graeme Ramsey.

The Minister met briefly with the community last week and while he agreed issues around the hearing of bail would need to be worked through, he later said," I have yet to see anything which makes me question the proposals and assumptions underlying them".

After the meeting Dargaville Justice of the Peace, Eric Smitten says, "JPs are not people who normally protest," but, "What a nonsense from a professional point of view - the proposal is all wrong."

Mr Ramsey said, "Not one person felt they had been listened to ... it's an attack on our community's viability and long-term future ... and likely the first step towards closure."

Yesterday Minister Borrows disagreed, "I have been paying very close attention to the concerns raised by people in Dargaville, and answering or addressing those concerns."

- Northern Advocate

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