Courthouse closure pledge

OFFICIALS have reassured the public there is no threat of more closures to courthouses following a decision to merge three magistrates' benches in part of the county.

OFFICIALS have reassured the public there is no threat of more closures to courthouses following a decision to merge three magistrates' benches in part of the county.

In its latest annual report, the Suffolk Magistrates' Courts Committee said plans to merge the St Edmundsbury and Stowmarket, Haverhill and Sudbury and North West Suffolk magistrates' benches would not result in closures or a reduction of services.

The proposals had sparked concern from some people – including West Suffolk Conservative MP Richard Spring - that the amalgamation could eventually pave the way for a county-wide merger of magistrates' benches and closure of small magistrates' courts.

Courthouses in Haverhill and Newmarket closed four years ago.


You may also want to watch:


John Rodley, chief executive of the Suffolk Magistrates' Courts Committee, said the decision to merge the three benches in West Suffolk had now been approved.

"That will not lead to any reduction in services or any closure or anything. It's purely an administrative measure that makes it easier to do our business," he said.

Most Read

"Each bench has a chairman and deputy and in future, rather than three chairman, there will be just the one. Nothing else will change.

"In future they will only have to have one meeting for West Suffolk rather than one meeting for each."

Mr Rodley said the committee was awaiting the outcome of the Courts Bill, which is likely to see a huge change in the way magistrates' courts are managed.

The new bill contains plans to streamline the administration of justice in England by replacing magistrates' courts committees by a centralised agency in London.

Mr Rodley said the committee could not speculate on the bill until it had been passed into a law act.

"When it enters law we expect it will establish a court service agency based in London and will be responsible for admin for all the courts, magistrates', crown and county," he said.

"The magistrates' courts are managed from here in Suffolk at the moment. In future responsibility is going to be elsewhere.

"The doubt is where does the responsibility for management lie between London and Suffolk.

"It's all speculation at the moment."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter