Court assets will not be stripped out, officials say

ELY Magistrate’s Court will not be stripped of its assets after closure, court officials insisted this week, despite documents obtained by the Ely Standard suggesting a sell-off was imminent.

Letters passed to the Standard this week suggested officials at Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCS) were planning to send specialist antiques valuers into the court while some furniture was being sized up for use in other courts.

The letters note chairs and other furniture at the courthouse would entirely refurbish another court and local managers were instructed to find out whether any other courts were interested.

The letters also state that certain antiques, including the valuable judge’s wig cupboard and mirror should immediately be moved to nearby Cambridge Magistrates’ Court.

HMCS failed to respond to a request for interview at the time of going to press.

A number of meetings have taken place in recent weeks between community groups in the city keen to take over the running of the 19th Century court when it hears its last case.

The Ely Society is just one of the groups involved in the discussions and secretary Yvonne Thresh insisted this week that the court’s assets were key to discussions that were taking place.

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“The last time we had a meeting we were told there would be a stop put on selling assets because they are very important to us and to the building.”

Mrs Thresh was keen to stress the Ely Society had been assured a stop had been put on all sales of furniture.

Chairman of the Ely Magistrates’ Bench, Sue Griffin, said: “As far as I understand nothing will be moved at the moment, I don’t think there is anything to be worried about.

“A conservation report has been carried out which is standard practice for Government buildings which are listed, it’s about establishing its heritage status.”