Wearside MPs are to press the new Courts Minister Oliver Heald for action over the stalled construction of a multi-million pound Centre for Justice for the city.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott and Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson have been campaigning for a modern courts complex in Sunderland since 2010.
Now a meeting between the two MPs and Oliver Heald is to be arranged, in the hope that the people of Sunderland will finally be provided with the long-overdue justice building.
Julie said: “£2million of taxpayer money has already been spent buying land and drawing up plans for a new Sunderland Centre for Justice at Farringdon Row, adjacent to the Vaux site.
“The Secretary of State has a duty to ensure this money was not wasted. Bridget and I have been pressing the Ministry of Justice to start this much-needed project since 2010.”
News of the proposed ministerial meeting was announced during Justice Questions in the Commons on November 1, after Bridget raised the issue of the long-delayed court complex.
The MP said afterwards: “I was pleased to hear the Justice Secretary respond that the minister would be happy to meet with us.
“Julie and I will be contacting him immediately, to ensure that a meeting takes place as soon as possible and the people of Sunderland are finally provided with the court they deserve.”
The current magistrates’ court was designed by William Milburn and Thomas Ridley Milburn, architects of the Empire Theatre, and opened on August 28. 1907.
Work to complete the £41,000 building, which included a fire and police station, took two years. The 109-year-old building is not, however, considered fit for purpose any more.
“A new Centre for Justice in Sunderland is absolutely vital to plans to regenerate the city centre and create jobs in the local area,” said Julie.
“Unfortunately, years of uncertainty over the future of the Farringdon Row site have really affected the city, and I am deeply disappointed that no progress has been made so far.
“Bridget and I have been pressing the Ministry of Justice to get spades in the ground on this project for over six years now, so I’m glad to hear the Justice Secretary promise us a meeting with the new Courts Minister.
“If the government is really serious about the so-called Northern Powerhouse scheme, it must prioritise critical infrastructure projects such as this.”