Proposal to limit hearings at Woy Woy courthouse
Woy Woy Courthouse will lose the ability to hear local court matters under changes being proposed by the NSW Attorney-General's office.
The Attorney General's office is "well-progressed" with the proposal to radically restructure the use of Woy Woy courthouse, according to.Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Mr Scot MacDonald.
Under the proposal, only children's court matters would be heard at Woy Woy.
All other criminal and civil local court matters would be heard at Gosford or Wyong.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice: "The Chief Magistrate has written to stakeholders to notify them of a proposal to move Local Court criminal and civil cases at Woy Woy to Gosford from March.
"The workload at Woy Woy is not high, with the Local Court only sitting for two to three hours once a week.
"The Chief Magistrate has increased the sitting days at Gosford to allow for two magistrates to sit full time which means it has the capacity to deal with Local Court matters from Woy Woy.
"The registry will continue to operate five days per week," the statement said.
"In addition, there is a proposal for Woy Woy to become a stand-alone Children's Court for the Central Coast, sitting five days a week.
"However, this is just a proposal at this stage; nothing has been finalised," the statement said.
Local lawyers have received letters from the Attorney General's office outlining the proposal to make Woy Woy Courthouse the venue for all Central Coast Children's Court matters and inviting them to make submissions about it.
Peninsula Chamber of Commerce president Mr Matthew Wales has criticised the proposal for taking yet more State services from the Peninsula in the name of efficiency.
"For the sake of efficiency, they are ignoring what the local community really needs and that is services," he said.
"I am really getting tired of the 'death by one thousand cuts' underpinned by the loss of the RMS (Woy Woy Motor Registry).
"I know the Government is looking for efficiencies and I know they want to streamline but sometimes the community's needs must be seen as more important.
"The Peninsula has the population of a large rural centre and yet we don't get the same level of service as Bathurst or Orange.
"We are a major regional centre in our own right and my business community certainly expects a level of service commensurate with our population and I am not feeling a lot of love here," Mr Wales said.
"Even if you can justify changes to the local court system on an efficiency basis and as a practical way to distribute resources, the problem is that once again there is a service being taken away from the Peninsula community that we should have a right to expect and it is a right that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with efficiency.
"The closure of the Woy Woy motor registry might have been efficient but it was a service that was taken away from the local Peninsula community that they are still angry about.
"If you do the same with the judicial process it is the same as saying we are not sensitive to your local needs."
Media statement, 19 Jan 2017
Georgie Louden, NSW Justice
Interview, 19 Jan 2017
Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast
Interview, 18 and 19 Jan 2017
Matthew Wales, Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Reporter: Jackie Pearson