AFTER months of uncertainty as to its future, Windsor Court House last week received a verdict on its fate when NSW Attorney General Brad Hazzard visited.
Mr Hazzard announced that Australia’s longest-operating court house will remain open — but with one third less sitting days. Currently the court operates 16 days a month but it will be reduced to 10 from 2015.
In the state budget announced in June last year, Windsor Court was threatened with closure due to cuts to court service funding, set to drop from $450 million to $436 million.
Mr Hazzard revisited the issue after concerns the closure would hit disadvantaged court attendees too hard as they would have been forced to travel to Penrith for hearings.
Mr Hazzard thanked Riverstone MP Kevin Conolly for his lobbying to keep the court at Windsor. ‘‘This is a victory for Mr Conolly and the people at Windsor who have campaigned for the court to remain a part of their community,’’ Mr Hazzard said.
Mr Conolly said the travel would have increased the degree of stress and expense that court attendees would have to deal with when involved in a case.
‘‘I am pleased that it will continue to hold its hearings,’’ Mr Conolly said.
‘‘The projected growth of Hawkesbury had an impact on the decision.’’
Magistrate Margot Stubbs was delighted as well, and praised Graeham Henson, NSW local courts chief magistrate, for revisiting the issue.
‘‘Not only is this the oldest, still operating court in Australia, it’s one of the oldest still operating in the common law world,’’ she said.
Built in 1822 by architect Francis Greenway, the court house was designed at the insistence of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and built by William Cox using convict labour.
NSW Environment and Heritage has described it as Greenway’s best preserved building that has been connected with the life of the Windsor community for justice and a venue for community activities.