Court closure labelled ‘a rural services blow’

GOVERNMENT cuts have sealed the fate of a magistrates’ court in west Suffolk.

It was confirmed this week that Sudbury Magistrates’ Court will be one of more than 100 courts across the country to close.

The axe will begin to fall from April next year as the Government seeks to save an estimated �15million a year in running the court system.

The closure of the Acton Lane courthouse, which sits three times a week, will leave defendants and witnesses having to travel to Bury St Edmunds for court hearings.

Richard Kemp, Independent councillor for Long Melford and a west Suffolk magistrate, said it was further proof that rural services were being destroyed.

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He said: “Everything is moving with indecent haste with regard to public service cuts and it is the rural regions that will suffer the most.

“One minute there is a reprieve and suddenly more cuts are announced. It makes a complete mockery of the consultation process and sums up the Government’s attitude to rural communities.

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“The Sudbury court covers a wide region and will now mean people from as far as Hadleigh and smaller villages will have to travel to Bury in a region that is poorly served by buses.”

He added that the pace of cuts needed to be checked or communities would find themselves without many of the services they have come to expect, from libraries and transport services to picnic sites and footpaths.

A better, more efficient and more modern service were the reasons given for the cuts by Justice Minister Jonathan Djangoly in a statement to the Commons.

The decision to close Sudbury’s court was based on an investigation that found it was only used for 31% of its available court time. More than �30,000 would be needed to bring the custody cells up to the required standard.

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