ST Helens Magistrates’ Court has shut for six months for much-needed refurbishments.
The old-fashioned Corporation Street courthouse, normally a hive of activity, heard its last case of the year last Friday (November 25).
A £1.3m refurbishment project has been commissioned which will include a complete refit and modernisation of the dated building.
Once completed, the work will also enable cases heard at St Helens County Court, which a spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service admitted currently has “poor facilities”, to be moved into the main court building.
The refurbishment work is expected to be completed by May 2012.
In the meantime, all St Helens Magistrates’ Court cases will be heard at Knowsley Magistrates’ Court in Huyton.
The reshuffle also saw Knowsley Magistrates’ Court, in Lathom Road, hear its last Knowsley case last Friday (November 25).
Once the St Helens reopens Knowsley will close - 37 years after it opened its doors.
In a ceremony attended by Knowsley MP George Howarth, borough Mayor Christina O’Hare and current and former justices and court staff, chair of the bench Kathy Pye and the court’s liaison Judge Mark Brown both made moving speeches. And a seat was left vacant in memory of former deputy chair Mike Hughes, who died last month.
The event was also attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead and the High Sheriff of Merseyside Professor Helen Carty.
A court has sat since Knowsley’s inception in 1974 and, in that time, 378 magistrates have sat in lay judgment - dealing with around 90 per cent of the crimes committed in the borough.
To save costs, the work of the Knowsley court has now transferred permanently to Liverpool.