New prison cells are to be built at Wrexham Magistrates Court, following a successful campaign led by the town’s MP.
The Ministry of Justice have confirmed to Ian Lucas that they will be building the cells which, once complete, will ensure Wrexham can return to having a fully-functioning court service.
The decision comes after several years of campaigning by Mr Lucas, local solicitors and magistrates.
Speaking after he received a call from the Ministry of Justice, Mr Lucas said: “I am absolutely delighted.
“The campaign was essential to ensure that, in a time of budget cuts, Wrexham would not lose its cells permanently and could, in the long-term, retain its status as the main court centre locally.”
The magistrates court in Wrexham used to share cells with the neighbouring police station at Bodhyfryd, but those facilities were lost to the court when the station closed and relocated to Llay last year.
Mr Lucas had warned the MoJ for several years that cells need to be built at the magistrates’ court, so it could still handle custodial cases. But once the police station closed, it meant cases requiring cells were transferred from Wrexham to Mold, causing huge inconvenience to witnesses, victims of crime and solicitors, as well as defendants.
The situation was complicated further by the imposition of tree preservation orders, which slowed progress in gaining permission for the new cells to be built. However, he says “most parties have worked together” recently to get the project across the line.
Mr Lucas added: “The retention of the court is important to Wrexham’s civic status as the biggest town in North Wales and also commercially for legal firms locally who employ staff in Wrexham town centre because the court is here.
“We must all learn lessons about how we allowed the old cells to be replaced without their replacement being guaranteed, but I am grateful to all who have spoken out to support the campaign.”
Mr Lucas raised the matter in Parliament on a number of occasions, and was in regular contact with local solicitors, magistrates, the local council and Ministry of Justice over the situation.
He has now been told by the MoJ that the budget has been confirmed to allow for the building of the cells, and that issues relating to the tree preservation orders are in hand.
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email News@Wrexham.com