Sunderland's magistrates court is over 100 years old and is no longer fit for either the victims of crime or those working to bring perpetrators to justice.
Houghton court was closed on the understanding a new modern courts complex was to be built in Sunderland. The Ministry of Justice spent £2 million of our money buying land and drawing up plans for a new Sunderland Justice Centre in Farringdon Row adjacent to the Vaux site. Many local residents expressed their concern about the delay in starting building work and impact this is having on our city. Sadly the plans have come to a standstill. In Parliament together with fellow Sunderland MP Julie Elliott, Bridget has asked questions of the Ministry of Justice to try and discover just what is going on and what the delays are about. If the courts are not rebuilt then £2 million would have been wasted. This cannot be allowed to happen. We have got to demand action and let it be known that areas like ours are not going to be left behind.
Latest update 05/11/2014 Sunderland Echo covers court campaign: Sunderland MP continues push for new court complex
The Sunderland Echo covers Bridget's meeting with Cliff Jones, chairman of the City of Sunderland bench and provides an update on the campaign for a new centre for justice. Read the full story here.
Update 20/10/2014 Government answer key questions about court rebuilding plans
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara answers key questions about Court rebuilding plans. Read the questions and answers here.
Update 22/09/2014 Minister refuses to visit Sunderland Court
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, failed to accept an invitation by Bridget to visit staff and facilities at Sunderland Magistrates Court as part of her campaign for a new centre for justice. Read more here.
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the Answer of 21 July 2010, Official Report, column 322W, on courts: Sunderland, what the cost was of (a) commissioning architects and (b) buying land for the redevelopment of Sunderland City Court.
Mr Vara: The information is as follows:
(a) Under the previous Government, £1,086,303 was paid to the appointed concept designer for architectural design services.
(b) The cost of buying the land, from Sunderland city council, was £876,353. In July 2009, the estimated build cost of the proposed justice centre was in excess of £90 million.
All major build projects have been reconsidered in light of the Spending Review 2010. It remains the position that no final decisions have been made about the future use of the land.
Update 04/02/2014 Bridget raises issue of court rebuilding in parliament
Raised again in Commons the need to rebuild Sunderland courts. Still no decision or prospect of decision. More here: http://t.co/WcqK06NC5q— Bridget Phillipson (@bphillipsonMP) February 4, 2014
Update 30/10/2013 Sunderland Echo: Fears over future of new Sunderland Court complex
The Echo continues its coverage of the campaign for a new court. Read more here.
Sunderland MPs Bridget Phillipson and Julie Elliott have called on the Ministry of Justice to make clear whether plans to rebuild Sunderland’s courts premises will go ahead. Read more here.
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 9 February 2011, Official Report, column 241W, on courts: Sunderland, what progress has been made on the proposed rebuilding of court premises in Sunderland; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs Grant: HM Courts and Tribunals Service continues to keep the use of its estate under review to ensure it meets operational requirements.
Any new investment proposals, such as the Sunderland scheme, would be part of wider considerations of the HMCTS estate as a whole.
Update 19/09/2011 Verdict promised over future of new Sunderland court complex
The Echo covers Bridget's campaign for a new centre for Justice in Sunderland. Read more here.
Update 06/09/2011 Bridget pushes for further answers from the government
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answers of 21 July 2010, Official Report, column 322W and 9 February 2011, Official Report, column 241W, on courts: Sunderland, what recent progress has been made on the proposed rebuilding of court premises in Sunderland; and if he will make a statement.
Mr Djanogly: The Ministry of Justice continues to review its investment priorities in the light of the current spending review settlement.
The business case for new court facilities in Sunderland is in the process of being examined to establish its priority in an updated court building programme. Officials are reviewing all deferred court projects, of which the Sunderland project is one. The review is planned to be completed by February 2012.
I will write to you with the outcome of the review when it is known and by March 2012 in any event.
Update 09/02/2011 Government admit they have plans and purchased the land to rebuild a new centre for justice
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 21 July 2010, Official Report, column 322W, on courts: Sunderland, what progress has been made on the proposed rebuilding of court premises in Sunderland; and if he will make a statement.
Mr Djanogly: HMCS remains committed to the delivery of a new Justice Centre in Sunderland. It has acquired the Farringdon Row site from Sunderland City Council and completed the design to Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stage D.HMCS has a portfolio of major build projects, which are at various stages of their development. These are being assessed as part of Government investment and governance procedures and considered against the outcome of the recent spending review. We anticipate the project being able to be progressed towards the end of the spending review period and will include Sunderland in the bid to HM Treasury for the following spending review in order to complete the construction phase.
Original picture: © Alamy
I support Sunderland MPs Julie Elliott and Bridget Phillipson's campaign for a new centre of justice. Victims of crime, those who work in the justice system, especially our volunteer magistrates and our community as a whole deserve a building and service fit for the 21st Century. The building of a new court could be the catalyst for the regeneration of our city centre, an opportunity to bring much needed jobs and investment for our part of the north east.