The closed magistrates’ court in Bingley which still costs taxpayers £5,361 a month is now being actively marketed by the Ministry of Justice after proposals to sell it together with Bingley Police Station and council offices fell through, MP Philip Davies has discovered.
The court in Bradford Road was shut in December 2011 as part of a nationwide shake-up, and Ministry of Justice figures from April to September this year showed the high monthly bill comprised security, utilities and essential maintenance.
Shipley MP Mr Davies fought against the closure of the court, which is within his constituency, and branded the monthly upkeep costs as “a complete waste of taxpayers’ money”.
And in an effort to stop the continued expense he contacted Under-Secretary of State for Justice Shailesh Vara MP.
Mr Vara has now replied to Mr Davies with an assurance that the building is definitely for sale.
And the official letter also says the matter has been delayed due to the suggested sale of the court and adjoining police station and council property.
“There have been on-going negotiations with West Yorkshire Police and Bradford City Council (who are on adjoining sites to the former court) for a joint sale of all three sites,” writes Mr Vara.
“However, West Yorkshire Police has indicated that it does not wish to proceed and the Council has not been able to commit to the sale.
His letter continues: “The Ministry of Justice remains committed to disposing of surplus assets expeditiously in accordance with central government guidance and is, therefore, ready to proceed alone. The property will be on the market in the New Year.”
Conservative MP Mr Davies said he was pleased there was progress. “I was against closure, but now the building is doing nothing and pointlessly costing the taxpayer money, we need it sold as soon as possible. Hopefully it will become something to help regenerate the town centre economy,” Mr Davies said.
Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin, the commander of the Bradford District division, confirmed that the West Yorkshire force was evaluating its buildings stock.
He said “At the present time, decisions are still to be made in relation to any police building from where we will deliver direct policing services to the public. Bingley Police Station is used as a base for police operations but it is not open to the public.
A Bradford Council spokesman said it could find no record of any formal discussions with the Ministry of Justice regarding any joint sale of assets in Bingley.