Courts set to shut under justice proposals
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.