Lancaster Magistrates’ Court is saved from cost-cutting closures

Lancaster magistrates
Lancaster magistrates
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Lancaster Magistrates’ Court will not be closing for the foreseeable future – but it will be merging with Lancaster County Court.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is proposing to close a number of court and tribunal buildings in the North West – but neither Lancaster nor Preston is not on the list.

The solicitors’ room is pokey as it is, there is insufficient room for us to consult with clients.

John Halewood-Dodd

The move in Lancaster by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service means cases previously heard at the county court in Mitre House, Lancaster, will be held at the magistrates’ court.

Leading defence solicitor John Halewood-Dodd has said the decision will stretch capacity at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court to the limit.

He said: “I was aware of what they were looking into doing. The solicitors’ room is pokey as it is, there is insufficient room for us to consult with clients. They were measuring up for a mirror for the barristers the other day.

“Sometimes we have to consult with clients in the corridor which is not ideal.

“I just don’t think there is sufficient room. It’s all about finance and justice seems to fall by the wayside.”

A spokesman for the Courts Service said: “Lancaster County Court is to be integrated within Lancaster Magistrates’ Court. Lancaster Magistrates’ Court is a relatively modern building with good facilities.

“This integration will provide increased flexibility and efficiency and allow improved utilisation of the court and tribunal estate.

Natalie Ceeney, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service chief executive, said: “We currently have a number of surplus buildings and this consultation puts forward proposals on their future.

“As we modernise our service so that fewer people will need to attend a court in person, spending money on unsuitable or rarely used buildings is not good value for money for taxpayers.

“I encourage anyone with an interest to respond to the proposals.”

Stuart Harrison, GMB organiser in the West Midlands, said: “The government proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals will not only affect GMB members but front of house staff, security, custody staff and escort drivers .”

See consult.justice.gov.uk

al consultation documents and the full list of sites recommended can be found at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposal-on-the-provision-of-court-and-tribunal-es. The 12 week consultation will close on October 8 2015.