Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Magistrates' Association criticises court closure plans
John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrates' Association
Some local courts sit for less than a third of the available time

The chairman of the Magistrates' Association has spoken out against court closures in England and Wales.

John Thornhill described plans to close some magistrates' courts as "taking away local justice from the communities where that justice should take place".

An estimated £15m is expected to be saved through the closure of 93 magistrates' and 49 county courts.

Mr Thornhill urged the government to consider using other local venues as temporary courts.

The chairman of the association was in Ludlow to mark the 650th anniversary of the founding of the office of magistrate. The town is also home to what is thought to be the country's oldest, working court.

Ludlow is one of three magistrates' courts in Shropshire scheduled to close, along with county courts at Ludlow, Shrewsbury and Oswestry.

Local communities

Ludlow court
Parts of Ludlow court are thought to date back to the 13th Century

The government has said many of the courts in England and Wales have been under-used in recent years.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said the plans would create a "better, more efficient and more modern" system of justice.

However, Mr Thornhill said savings could be made without taking "justice" from out of local communities.

"That doesn't mean it has to be in a fully fledged magistrates' court... that's a matter to discuss with those local communities, if they want that justice to be delivered where they see the offences being committed," he said.




SEE ALSO
Shropshire's courts facing cuts
15 Dec 10 |  People & Places
Ministers name courts being axed
16 Dec 10 |  Politics

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