Courts set to shut un­der jus­tice pro­pos­als

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE -

MAC­CLES­FIELD mag­is­trates and county courts are un­der threat af­ter a ma­jor spend­ing re­view by the Gov­ern­ment.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice has launched a con­sul­ta­tion over the clo­sure of 91 out of 460 ‘un­der-used’ court build­ings in an at­tempt to save money.

The an­nual op­er­at­ing costs at the county court and mag­is­trates courts are £275,000 and £120,000 re­spec­tively.

There are 11 mem­bers of staff based at the Mac­cles­field courts.

It is pro­posed that the work­load from Mac­cles­field Mag­is­trates is moved to Crewe Mag­is­trates’ Court.

This would mean de­fen­dants, wit­nesses, so­lic­i­tors and po­lice from Mac­cles­field would have to travel 20 miles to court – 45 min­utes in the car and more than a hour on public trans­port.

A re­port by the Min­istry of Jus­tice says it will cost Mac­cles­field res­i­dents up to £16.90 for a re­turn jour­ney to Crewe on the train, or £5 on the bus.

Cases nor­mally heard at the county court will be moved to Manch­ester Civil Jus­tice Cen­tre, which will also cost up to £15 for a re­turn jour­ney on the train.

Mac­cles­field mag­is­trates’ court, on Hi­bel Road, un­der­went a £470,000 re­fur­bish­ment in 2012, but has since seen a grad­ual de­cline in use.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Min­istry, both the mag­is­trates and county court were used only 44 per cent of the time dur­ing the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year.

The court is cur­rently open on Tues­day and Thurs­days.

Mac­cles­field MP David Rut­ley said he was ‘dis­ap­pointed’ by the pro­pos­als and pledged to fight for the ‘right ac­cess to jus­tice’.

He added: “I have been work­ing with the Min­istry of Jus­tice and Peter Nash, chair­man of the bench at Mac­cles­field mag­is­trates’ court, over re­cent years for a vi­able fu­ture of the lo­cal mag­is­trates court.

“I have ex­pressed lo­cal con­cerns to courts Min­is­ter Shailesh Vara and will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the for­mal con­sul­ta­tion to en­sure my con­cerns and those of lo­cal res­i­dents and our hard work­ing lo­cal mag­is­trates are put to the MoJ.

“What­ever the out­come we need to en­sure lo­cal res­i­dents con­tin­ued to have the right ac­cess to jus­tice in the courts. I will also be ex­plor­ing op­tions that have pro­posed in­volv­ing other civic build­ings such as the town hall.”

The con­sul­ta­tion will run for 12 weeks. View the con­sul­ta­tion via jus­tice. gov.uk.

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