Town to receive temporary court

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Oamaru residents can expect to get a temporary courthouse by February next year, the Courts Minister announced yesterday.

Since the closure of the courthouse in 2011 because of earthquake risk, court had been operating out of the Oamaru Opera House.

Courts Minister Chester Burrows said a portacom courthouse would be transported from Christchurch, where it was used after the February earthquake, and was due to be functional by February next year.

The Ministry of Justice had been working with the Waitaki District Council to organise consents and a site for the court.

The portacom had “first rate” facilities and moving it to Oamaru would give the community more certainty until decisions could be made about the future of the Oamaru courthouse, Mr Burrows said.

The cost of transporting and setting up the facility was expected to cost around $80,000, he said.

Engineering assessments of the Oamaru courthouse had been completed and reviewed with the estimated cost of strengthening the original courthouse to be $1-$2 million, he said.

The amount was lower than previously estimated, but was still a “significant amount to spend on a court with low and falling business”, Mr Burrows said.

“As a Government, we have to make sure that we are investing in courts where there is high demand.”

He hoped to be able to update Oamaru on the future of the courthouse by April next year, he said.

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher said it was very pleasing the ministry seemed to be more on board with getting service back into the existing building.

“It is imperative that we continue with the service.”

The temporary courthouse was an interim step in getting the courthouse up and running again, he said.

By RUBY HARFIELD