Bury MP to push for ‘alternative provision’ for local justice ahead of court closure
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill is pushing for ‘alternative provision’ for local justice ahead of the closure of the town’s magistrates’ court.
Mrs Churchill wants the Government to consider alternative sites where cases before magistrates can be heard including at the town’s expanding ‘Public Service Village’, in Western Way.
The court at Old Shire Hall is among 86 courts and tribunals closing to save £700 million - leaving 1,466 square miles of Suffolk served by only one court in Ipswich.
Mrs Churchill said: “I have consistently argued that a local justice provision is absolutely essential both for the town and the wider region.
“I’m in no doubt that without any such provision, residents will be forced to travel a significant distance - with some of my constituents facing a 45 mile trip to be able to access justice facilities.”
The court is earmarked to close at some point between July to September but the Government says it will not close until ‘suitable alternative provision is established’.
To ensure this, Mrs Churchill has spoken with Shailesh Vara, Parliamentary-Under-Secretary of State for Jutsice, and representatives from HM Courts and Tribunal Service to draft a series of measures.
They include a group of local judicial representatives being formed to look at delivering an alternative and exploring other options in consultation with local stakeholders. It is expected this consultation will be completed by September.
Mrs Churchill said: “For a town which oversaw the founding of Magna Carta, justice has been a cornerstone of Bury. I feel these plans acknowledge the specific needs of our area; aiming to preserve access to local justice and see it delivered upon by our judicial representatives.
“I will continue to push for the development of a Public Service Village which encompasses justice services.
“Yet what is important, is that any alternative arrangements reassures that local justice is maintained and delivered for Bury.
“Only once detailed plans are developed will they be presented to Ministers.
“Nevertheless, I will continue to work closely with ministers, officials and local representatives, as well as my regional colleagues, to ensure residents access local justice.”