Boss to lose job in court revamp

By Aaron van Delden

One of three Whanganui District Court management jobs will go in a restructuring of the country's court services.

Court staff throughout New Zealand were told in October of proposed restructuring which would affect about 200 jobs in some way. On that same day Courts Minister Chester Borrows announced the closure of four district courts as "part of efforts to modernise court operations".

Mr Borrows has now confirmed the proposed changes, which will see the addition of 1.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) front-line workers at the local court but the disestablishment of one management role.

October's proposal would have seen all three Whanganui District Court management roles amalgamated into a single job.

Meanwhile, the Marton District Court will no longer provide counter services, including fine payment and document certification, and is to open only on the days it holds hearings.

All 2.6 FTE staff members - one manager and 1.6 FTE front-line workers - at the court will be out of a job, with staff at Whanganui District Court to travel to Marton when the court sits, on average three-and-a-half days each month.

The court's paperwork and counter services are to be handled in Wanganui too.

Hearing-only courts will also be established in Dargaville, Waihi, Te Awamutu, Te Kuiti, Opotiki, Waipukurau, Oamaru and Balclutha, while district courts in Feilding, Upper Hutt, Warkworth and Whataroa will close altogether.

Mr Borrows said crime was at its lowest level in 30 years, adding that the annual volume of criminal summary cases had decreased by 25 per cent since June 2009.

"The Government is taking the opportunity this provides to improve the administration of New Zealand's district courts to bring them into line with public expectations of convenient and accessible services," he said.

Plans to make better use of technology, such as videoconferencing, were also among moves to update services.

The new arrangements should be in place early next year.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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