No funds for Belmont court house

THE state government is spending millions to rebuild Belmont Police Station, but there are no plans to upgrade the old courthouse next door.

Lake Macquarie independent councillor Laurie Coghlan said the police station and Belmont Local Court should have been redeveloped at the same time.

‘‘The courthouse is so small,’’ Cr Coghlan, who will seek re-election at next month’s council election, said. ‘‘I wouldn’t keep my dog in it.’’

The Newcastle Herald reported last March that the state government would spend $21million to rebuild ‘‘atrocious’’ police stations at Belmont, Toronto and Morisset.

Cr Coghlan said lawyers brief clients on the footpath because of a lack of space in Belmont court.

He said officials from NSW Police and the Attorney-General’s department should have ‘‘sat down together and worked out a way to do a joint development’’.

Liberal Swansea MP Garry Edwards said work on police stations and courthouses was done with ‘‘separate funding’’.

‘‘We’re about priorities, and trying to get sick kids into hospitals is a greater priority than upgrading Belmont court,’’ Mr Edwards said. ‘‘If the Attorney-General’s department had any great concern, funding would have been sought in this year’s budget.’’

Mr Edwards said no one had raised the matter with him, except Cr Coghlan.

‘‘I’ve since had a meeting with Attorney-General Greg Smith and he said his department would have a look at it.’’

Cr Coghlan said the Attorney-General’s office told the council there were no plans to redevelop Belmont court because ‘‘all the money is going to the new courthouse in Newcastle’’.

‘‘Newcastle probably needs a new courthouse, but so does Belmont,’’ he said.

Belmont court was built decades ago.

‘‘We’ll have a fabulous new police station and an archaic courthouse next door,’’ Cr Coghlan said.

‘‘I’d rather they put the money in the kitty and wait until they have enough money to do the police station and the courthouse together.’’

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