Long trip awaits those in le­gal dis­putes

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

An­gle­sey and Gwynedd hit hard:

FIG­URES across the is­land have slammed a de­ci­sion by the UK Govern­ment to shut both of An­gle­sey’s re­main­ing courts.

Thurs­day af­ter­noon saw pub­li­ca­tion of a re­port by HM Courts & Tri­bunals Ser­vice (HMCTS) an­nounc­ing the clo­sures in a bid to make sav­ings.

As a re­sult both Holy­head Mag­is­trates and Llangefni Civil and Fam­ily Court are set to close later this year.

Other clo­sures across North Wales in­clude Dol­gel­lau Crown and Mag­is­trates Court, Wrex­ham’s Tri­bunal and Hear­ing Cen­tre and the down­grade of Prestatyn Mag­is­trates Court to a civil, fam­ily and tri­bunal court.

The pro­pos­als for clo­sure, first pro­posed last year, at­tracted firece crit­i­cism that jus­tice was be­ing taken fur­ther away from the peo­ple. An­gle­sey’s coun­cil­lors also unan­i­mously passed a mo­tion last year, urg­ing the Govern­ment to keep both courts open.

In re­sponse, the HMCTS says it is try­ing to es­tab­lish ‘al­ter­na­tive pro­vi­sion’ for le­gal ser­vices, al­though it is un­clear what this would en­tail.

Jus­tice min­is­ter Shailesh Vara said: “Our courts and tri­bunal sys­tem is in need of ur­gent re­form. Main­tain­ing our un­der­used and di­lap­i­dated court build­ings costs the tax­payer £500 mil­lion a year but some sit for less than half the time avail­able.

“Clos­ing th­ese poor qual­ity build­ings will raise £40m to rein­vest in the jus­tice sys­tem, and save hard-work­ing tax­pay­ers £27m a year. The de­ci­sion to close a court is never taken lightly, but in the dig­i­tal age I’m con­fi­dent we have mea­sures in place to en­sure ac­cess to jus­tice is not di­min­ished.”

But op­po­si­tion par­ties have slammed the de­ci­sion.

Labour MP Al­bert Owen was crit­i­cal of plans to close both re­main­ing courts on the is­land: “The Govern­ment sim­ply has not lis­tened and is clos­ing lo­cal ser­vices by stealth.

“This is a dev­as­tat­ing blow for An­gle­sey. The only al­ter­na­tive is Caernar­fon Crown court and for res­i­dents from north An­gle­sey or Holy­head, this ex­pec­ta­tion is un­ac­cept­able.

“It will mean many peo­ple, heav­ily de­pen­dent on in­ter­mit­tent pub­lic trans­port fac­ing ex­pen­sive and ex­tended trav­el­ling.”

Plaid’s Rhun ap Ior­w­erth AM (pic­tured) added: “I’m bit­terly, bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with the de­ci­sion to leave An­gle­sey with no court pro­vi­sion at all. “The case had been made very strongly to keep Holy­head and Llangefni courts, and Plaid Cymru’s coun­cil­lors and MPs have also ar­gued strongly against clo­sure.

“We will seek ev­ery pos­si­ble means to try to over­turn this.”

Llangefni Civil and Fam­ily Court and in­set above Holy­head Mag­is­trates’ Court are both set to close

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