The government has announced its plan to close 86 county, family and tribunal courts around the country.
In a written statement to Parliament earlier today Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said the decision was made following a consultation launched in July. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had sought input on plans to close 91 local courts.
But following the consultation the MoJ settled on 86 closures and elected to keep the courts in St Helens, Stockport, West Cumbria, Bath and Carmarthen. Although Mr Vara claimed that the decision to close so many local courts was difficult but insisted the action was necessary.
The measure had been taken as part of the Conservative government’s attempts to “modernise a system which everybody accepts is unwieldy, inefficient, slow, expensive to maintain and unduly bureaucratic” the Minister added.
The MP for North West Cambridgeshire maintained the closures would not make it more difficult for people to find a court. As many as 97 per cent of people will still be able to “reach their required court within an hour by car” he claimed.
However, family law organisation Resolution has decried the extent of the MoJ’s cuts. National chair Jo Edwards called the move a “simplistic, ill-thought through exercise” which represented “devastating news for thousands of separating families”.
The closures place extra strain on a family justice system which is “already struggling” as a result of “funding cuts, fewer judges and an increase in the number of people representing themselves in the family court” she said.
Read the government statement in full here.