Taxpayers fork out for courts

PUBLISHED: 09:13 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:22 24 May 2010

NORTH Somerset Magistrates Court in Worle and a new court planned for Bristol worth £45 million will cost the council taxpayer five times as much. The state-of-the art building in Worle has five courts and opened earlier this year. Bristol's 11-court comp

NORTH Somerset Magistrates Court in Worle and a new court planned for Bristol worth £45 million will cost the council taxpayer five times as much.The state-of-the art building in Worle has five courts and opened earlier this year. Bristol's 11-court complex is due to open next year but both have been paid for by a private finance initiative (PFI).A consortium of firms design, build and maintain the buildings for 25 years but during this time the taxpayer will be footing the bill for mortgage repayments and service charges costing more than £207 million. After 25 years the Government will own the centre outright. When the project was agreed local authorities were responsible for magistrates courts. Her Majesty's Court Service has now taken over. Spokesman Rachel Clark, said: "The magistrates courts committee and local authority looked to the private sector to provide necessary investment to meet their needs, with the service provider recovering their costs by levying a service charge. "PFI gave local authorities the opportunity to deliver high quality and more cost-effective services giving them access to new sources of capital investment and management skills for new or improved magistrates courts.

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