All is not well at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre, Bristol’s state-of-the art PFI funded civil court buildings in Redcliff. Expensively built by the PRIVATE SECTOR for the Labour government for over £20million and opened to great fanfare in 2010 after judges arrived at work on 27 June this year to discover their car park KNEE DEEP in water with an electric current running through it.
Now, four months later, our civil court house remains INEXPLICABLY closed with the city’s civil cases being squeezed in at the Magistrates Court or in Cardiff, Gloucester or Taunton while Judges are housed in spare rooms, libraries, store rooms and doubling up to fit into the space. No one seems to be sure when they will be back either.
The courts were built under a PFI DEAL with the Department of the Environment (not the Ministry of Justice for some obscure reason) and the terms of the lease and build contract deal don’t appear to cover what’s occurred. Indeed, we’re told, “senior judges have read the terms of the lease and can’t make sense of them”!
The problem, it seems, is that the flood caused the fuse box to blow. Not an unusual event and fixable within hours. However, this fuse box was CUSTOM MADE for the site in Germany and no one knows why. The delay is being caused as we have to wait for the Germans to come over and build an expensive, identical custom-built fuse box to fit the space.
No one has any idea why this was done in the first place. No one has any idea how much the custom built fuse box will cost. No one has any idea what the cost of rehousing everyone is. Nor, indeed, does anyone have any idea who is going to be paying.
It’s another rip-roaring public-private success!
[UPDATE: since this story was published in the paper, the courts have now reopened]