Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is to reintroduce a historic ceremonial role that will ‘boost civic pride’ as well as help to safeguard local jobs.
The authority has voted to appoint an Honorary Recorder, an unpaid position created to maintain close links between Councils and the judiciary and to encourage an understanding of the judicial system by local residents.
The move is also hoped to help ensure the future of Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court in the light of a series of recent court closures across South Wales.
“In the current climate of austerity, the HM Courts Service is seeking to streamline its provision,” said Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Leader Cllr Brendan Toomey. “We want to protect the jobs of support staff, raise the profile of the court and have in place a public figure who can advocate on its behalf.”
Since the implementation of the Courts Act 1971 and the establishment of the Crown Court for England and Wales, City and Borough Councils have had the power to appoint a circuit judge as Honorary Recorder. The role was historically allocated to the resident judge at Merthyr Tydfil Crown court, but the position had fallen into abeyance.
“The post is a purely civic and ceremonial one, which carries no formal duties or powers,” Cllr Toomey added. “However, responsibilities can include providing independent legal advice to the Council’s Mayor and Chief Executive if and when required, and acting as one of the Mayor's escorts at ceremonial civic events.
“There are no significant financial implications – it’s not proposed there should be a chain of office or major celebration of the appointment, and if transport to civic ceremonies is required, the Recorder will travel with the Mayor.”
Cllr Toomey said that in recent years, Bridgend Magistrates’ Court had closed, along with Aberdare and Pontypridd Magistrates’ Courts - leaving the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taff without a criminal court and making Merthyr Tydfil the only one in the South Wales Valleys.