Keighley Magistrates Court

AN MP has urged government to cut its losses and auction off Keighley magistrates’ court closed instead of wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money each month keeping the building closed.

The court closed five years ago but government is still paying £5,000 a month to effectively keep it closed.

Shipley MP Philip Davies accused government of wasting £300,000 on an empty building which could be more than the building would sell for.

He made the comments to Courts Minister Sir Oliver Heald during a Commons Justice Select Committee session on courts and tribunal fees.

Mr Davies said to the Minister: “In December 2011 the Government closed down my local court, Keighley magistrates’ court, which is based in Bingley, and have been paying, as I understand it, about £5,000 a month just to leave it lying idle and still have not sold it. I am not entirely sure how much you plan on getting for it, but by my reckoning you have already sunk about £300,000 in just keeping it closed, and you will get to the point—you may have passed it already—where you will not even get what you have spent keeping it closed.

“Why don’t you just auction it off and get what you can for it, rather than spending £5,000 a month keeping a building empty that you clearly are unable to sell? Why not auction it off and cut your losses? That is what you would do if it was your property. You would not spend more keeping it closed than you would ever realise, so why don’t the Government do that with their buildings?”

Government claim as there are multiple sites to sell they have been advised by “professional property people” selling sites individually was not the right approach.

Mr Davies added: “Can I advise you to change your professional property people and get something for the site, rather than sinking good money after bad, and bring it into use for the local economy? My court cannot be the only one.”

Sir Oliver said he would look at the situation in Keighley and write to Mr Davies with any more information.

Mr Davies said: “I listened to the minister say if government were to auction off everything they wanted to sell, they would get less money than they would by following the approach they are taking. I do not see how this is possible. They have nothing now. I see a building that has been left empty and is costing the taxpayer thousands each month. I do not see how anyone can say it is better for the taxpayer to keep these buildings than sell them. Not only is it a complete waste of money it is preventing an important town centre building in Bingley from being regenerated and brought into use.”