MP's concern over threat to port court
A Fylde coast MP has condemned potential court closures across the country and has raised concerns about the future of one facility close to home.
Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, spoke out after Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court was listed for consultation for closure.
There are no such plans for Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.
The government has opened a 10-week consultation on its plans, with concerns that it will displace staff and mean staff and the public travelling further, in more difficult circumstances at greater cost.
There has not been a criminal court at Fleetwood Since October 2013, but family court sessions are still held in the building on The Esplanade.
Ms Smith (inset) said: “This announcement is a hammer blow to local justice from a Tory government with a sorry record of closing over 38 per cent of courts and tribunals since 2010.
“The new Justice Secretary should order a review into the court closure programme and halt any further closures.”
Ms Smith says the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents workers in Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court, has also raised the concern that these closures will result in delays to cases being heard.
However, the HM Court and Tribunals Service says it is aiming to make access to justice quicker, easier and fairer for all - and enable some work to be held away from a physical court building.
Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: “This government is investing over £1bn to reform and modernise the justice system – making it more convenient, easier to use, and providing better value for the taxpayer.
“As we increase the use of digital services, it makes sense to consider the need for court buildings.”