Ministers mum on courthouse

Government ministers have largely ignored the Dunedin City Council's request for dialogue concerning the future of the city's historic courthouse.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull sent five separate letters to five government ministers two weeks ago, asking for an opening of the airwaves on the issue.

But by yesterday there had been no opening of dialogue from any of the ministers.

The offices of Mr Woodhouse and Mr English had acknowledged receipt of the letters, while Mrs Adams had issued a statement to the Otago Daily Times last week.

Mr Cull had asked Mr Woodhouse ''as a Dunedin resident'' to help advocate ''on behalf of this important building and precinct''.

Mr Cull's letter also noted the added inconvenience and expense of the temporary High St courthouse to the city's police.

Mr Woodhouse's reply, from his senior private secretary Trish Wanden, stated ''the issues you raised are outside [Mr Woodhouse's] portfolio responsibilities''.

''As the local National member of Parliament he took the liberty of bringing them to the attention of the Minister of Courts, Hon Amy Adams, who will be responding to you in due course.''

No other communication from Mr Woodhouse had been received.

Mr English's office had sent a short response thanking Mr Cull and explaining the letter had ''been passed on to the minister for his information''.

It made no other comments.

On a visit to Dunedin last week, Prime Minister John Key said he would ''probably'' enter dialogue with the task force, but he was not convinced it was a tourism issue.

Asked about the court's position in the middle of the heritage tourism precinct, he said he was happy to discuss it with Mr Cull.

But Mr Cull said he did not meet Mr Key during the Prime Minister's Dunedin visit, and yesterday had still had no contact from him or his office in response to the letter.

No reply of any kind had been received from Ms Barry.

Questions asked

Letters sent to:

• Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key.
• Minister of Finance Bill English.
• Minister of Justice and Minister for Courts Amy Adams.
• Minister of Police Michael Woodhouse.
• Minister of Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry.

Letters requested:

• An opening of dialogue between ministers and the council.
• An ''unequivocal commitment'' to return court services to the courthouse.
• The Government show leadership in the earthquake strengthening of heritage buildings under its stewardship.

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