Plans to build a new cell block and entrance at Wrexham Magistrates Court have been given the go ahead.
Members of the council’s planning committee unanimously backed proposals to build a standalone cell block linked by a ‘bridge’ to the existing court building at the Bodhyfryd site.
The magistrates court used to share cells with the then neighbouring police station, however those facilities were lost when the station closed and relocated to Llay last year. The new town police station, located in the former Oriel Wrecsam, does not have a custody facility.
As Wrexham.com have long documented until new facilities are built, all custodial cases are being dealt with in Mold rather than Wrexham – causing a great deal of inconvenience to witnesses, victims of crime and local solicitors, as well as defendants and has seen the future of the court called into question.
Plans for the new cells were submitted for consideration back in 2017, but a decision was delayed due to concerns over the loss of trees nearby.
However earlier this year planning committee members agreed to put a Tree Protection Order (TPO) in place on a group of trees around the courts.
To mitigate the loss of the identified trees, officers have negotiated a planting scheme to the frontage of the court building as it faces onto Bodhyfryd
Speaking yesterday, a representative for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service said the law courts were strategically important to Wrexham and North Wales and that the facility is a principal employer in the area.
He added: “There are currently no custodial facilities at the courts building itself. North Wales Police relocated their headquarters so the facility is no longer operational.
“We can’t use the cells and replacement facility is needed to maintain the courts in Wrexham and at the site.
“The proposed custodial suite is therefore essential. It has been designed in response to the function of the court and has been specifically designed to suit the security requirements the courts have.
Councillor Paul Jones, Maesydre ward, said: “I am pleased to see this before the committee. I will be supporting the officer’s recommendation.
“It is pleasing to see that Wrexham is maintaining is magistrates courts.”
Ruabon councillor Dana Davies, added: “For the betterment of Wrexham I agree with the officer’s recommendation.
“It also secures the future of the magistrates court in Wrexham, which I think it a key thing for members to see.”
The decision has been welcomed by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who has campaigned for several years to ensure that there is a magistrates presence in Wrexham and that the custodial cells are replaced.
“New custody cells are vital to the long-term future of Wrexham Magistrates Court, which is why I have applied so much pressure, both locally and in Westminster, to ensure they can be built,” said Mr Lucas.
“At a time when courts are closing all over the UK, the Ministry of Justice has been persuaded to invest in Wrexham and I regard this as a very welcome – if long overdue – development.
“Wrexham is the largest town in North Wales and I will always press to ensure my constituents have access to important public services, such as a fully-functioning magistrates court. It is simply not acceptable to have victims of crime, local solicitors, police and defendants to travelling to Mold for cases which should be heard in Wrexham.
“I do think that the council and the police need to reflect on how they decided to close the police station without first making adequate arrangements for replacement cells to be built, leading to a major inconvenience for Wrexham people who have had to travel to Mold for a substantial period.
“I am aware that some trees will be lost in order to make way for the new development.
“There is a commitment in the plans to plant new trees to mitigate the loss of the existing ones and I am satisfied that this important matter has been addressed.”
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