Ministry of Justice officials met, including telephone conferences, with Urban Vision on one occasion and with Stoke on Trent City Council on three occasions in the last three months. There are no further meetings scheduled to take place. The MoJ is now in commercial discussions for the sale of the property to a private bidder.
Members of the community in Stoke-on-Trent have made their views on the court building clear to us, and we have engaged in constructive dialogue with Urban Vision as they developed their business case.
Following those discussions, we offered to transfer ownership of the building to Stoke-on-Trent City Council, for a peppercorn rate so they could work with Urban Vision and others on the long term future of the building. Unfortunately the council has declined that offer and sadly now we will be looking to sell the court.
We were keen to explore solutions that suited the community but we have a duty to get best value for the taxpayer when disposing of surplus property and this building had been empty for over two years.
We will be paying for three of the war memorials to be carefully relocated to the nearby Fenton Christ Church. There will be a legal duty for whoever buys the building to preserve the Minton Memorial which cannot be safely moved.