11 Dec 2012

Petition opposes district court shake-up

5:01 pm on 11 December 2012

A petition signed by more than 1200 people opposing reductions to court services in the Kaipara District is being tabled in Parliament.

From next year, the courthouse in Dargaville will open only on set hearing dates instead of five days a week, as part of changes to nine district courts announced by the Government in October.

Two court staff will lose their jobs, and the reduced courthouse hours are being seen by some as an attack on rural services and confidence.

Local lawyers and justices of the peace say people who need a hearing when police oppose bail will be disadvantaged, as they will have to choose between a hearing in the police cells or a trip to Whangarei. But Mr Borrows says most people in that position already choose to go before a judge in Whangarei.

The Government says no-one will be disadvantaged by the changes because cases will still be heard locally, and people will be able to do over-the-counter court business on hearing days or by phone or the internet.

The petition was due to be tabled on Tuesday.