Government announces changes to the court estate
Today, Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke MP announced the closure of seven court buildings in England, that are either underused, dilapidated or too close to another court building. Money raised from the sale of these buildings will be reinvested into modernising the justice system.
The courts to be closed are:
• Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court (currently sitting as a Family Hearing Centre)
All courts were assessed on the basis of ensuring access to justice, delivering value for money and the ability to offer efficiency in the long term. Cambridge Magistrates Court, on which the decision to consult was finely balanced, will remain open following consideration of a range of issues, including its location within a large and well-connected city and new evidence suggesting that closure would not provide sufficient value for money.
Unlike the other seven courts which are freeholds owned by HMCTS, Cambridge Magistrates Court is a long Finance Lease with restrictions on use. After further investigation of the likely costs, the Lord Chancellor has concluded that the value for money case has not been made. HMCTS will continue to explore further ways to manage under-utilisation of existing buildings in the region as part of its wider estates strategy.
Northallerton Magistrates Court serves an exceptionally rural community but during the course of the consultation, public service transport timetables were altered. This may make it more difficult for some users in some areas to get to court, especially for early morning starts. As a result, the court will not be closed until video facilities are made available in Northallerton.
The decision to close a court is never taken lightly, but the current under-utilisation of the estate means that there is capacity within the remaining estate to absorb workloads from these seven courts, and maintain access to justice.
Source cited from HM Courts & Tribunals Service