Residents in the Grays/Green community – especially United Progressive Party (UPP) Candidate Richard Lewis – will be pleased to hear the St. John’s Magistrates Court should be moving back to its former premises.
Notes from the Cabinet meeting of Wednesday, June 22, indicate that renovation of the High Street building is almost complete. Once done, the St. John’s Court will return to that location, where four courts operate: two criminal courts, a traffic court and a civil court.
Meanwhile, the Notes say that a Family Court will be established within the High Court building on Factory Road and Parliament Drive, and an opening ceremony is planned for the occasion.
Reportedly the Chief Justice and judicial officers from every OECS territory will be invited to witness the opening of the first, exclusive Family Court in the jurisdiction.
At present, the Family Court is located on High Street in the Ryan Building.
For over two years the St. John’s Magistrates Court has been operating in what is known as the Knuckle Block Community Centre.
Sometime last year, 2021, Minister of Works Lennox Weston indicated that renovation work would commence on the building, which once housed the High Court and the Births and Deaths Registry – but the repairs were not undertaken at the time.
The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, meanwhile, had announced plans to build a modern law complex to house all the lower courts. However, there has been no movement toward realizing those plans.
In the meantime, residents of the Grays/Green Community had been agitating for the Court to be moved, so that they could enjoy the complex, which has a basketball court among its amenities.
Championing the cause was Senator Lewis, who has written letters and voiced complaints in Parliament on several occasions, detailing the disadvantage being meted out to the community.
The facility was a gift from the Government of China at the request of former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who served as the parliamentary representative for Rural West for several decades.