Anger at Rotherham court closure threat

ROTHERHAM solicitors have reacted with shock to cost-cutting Government plans which could see the town’s Magistrates’, County and Family Court closed down.

Andrew Walker, senior partner at Walkers Solicitors, said of the consultation on major changes announced yesterday by Justice Secretary Michael Gove: “With a metropolitan borough of 250,000 people, do we not justify our own magistrates court?

“The whole point of magisterial law is that it's local justice seen in action. As a borough, we stand to lose that.”

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Mr Gove’s consultation document reveals a hitlist of 91 courts set to be axed.

The Justice Secretary said it was possible other public buildings could be used instead to hold court hearings.

But Mr Walker was dismayed by the announcment, adding: “We had a taste of Rotherham without a magistrates court during the year-long closure following the floods in 2007 and it was not good.

“This is not about inconvenience for us solicitors, it's about the town, it’s about the people of Rotherham and the impact this will have on the victims of crime who occasionally have to attend court in traumatic circumstances to give evidence.”

Mr Gove said fewer hearings would be held face to face in future while there would be more modern technology used.

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