Talks have begun within Hartlepool Borough Council about the future use of the town’s court building which is due to close early next year.
The council owns Hartlepool Magistrates and County Court and is leased by the Ministry of Justice on a 999-year lease.
It was announced by the Government last month that the court is to close sometime between next January and March following a review of under-used court buildings in England and Wales.
Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, told the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, she had spoken to the authority’s estates team about the building.
She said: “We are starting to look at the future of the building because we don’t want it to be derelict. The responsibility stays with the Ministry of Justice.
“They could go out and get their own tenant and end up with anything or anybody so we have to be careful.”
The Ministry of Justice could give up the lease handing the decision what to do with the building back to the council.
The ministry’s consultation response on Hartlepool’s courts it stated: “If HM Courts and Tribunals Service were to vacate the building, operating costs would be saved. During the period only rates would be payable.
“HM Courts and Tribunals Service would have the opportunity either to surrender the lease back to the local authority or sell our interest in the lease. In summary, savings would be made until disposal.”
The court building’s operating costs are said to be around £345,000 a year.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, chair of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, said: “I think we did put a strong case. My personal view is the decision had already been made before the consultation.”