MP's fears for future of local justice

By Liz HearnshawAN MP has voiced serious concerns over the future of local justice in the light of a plan to transfer major cases away from west Suffolk when a new crown court building opens in a fortnight.

By Liz Hearnshaw

AN MP has voiced serious concerns over the future of local justice in the light of a plan to transfer major cases away from west Suffolk when a new crown court building opens in a fortnight.

It is feared magistrates' courts in Mildenhall and Sudbury will eventually shut down when cases at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court are wound down once the new crown court in Ipswich opens on June 7.

Richard Spring, the Conservative MP for West Suffolk, said he feared local justice would be eroded as a result of the move, which will see magistrates' cases heard in the empty crown courthouse in Bury St Edmunds when trials are transferred to Ipswich.


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“I have been given assurances that the creation of additional space by moving the crown court from Bury to Ipswich will make no difference to Mildenhall and Sudbury,” he said.

“However, I am suspicious that in the long term, this may be used as an excuse to close down those courts. The authorities have denied it, but I do not believe them.”

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Mr Spring added he felt the court system had no interest in local justice administered by local people with suitable knowledge of the area they covered.

A spokesman for Suffolk Magistrates' Courts Committee, said the move would have no bearing on services elsewhere in west Suffolk.

“The opening of the new crown court will have no impact upon the work that is currently listed at Sudbury or Mildenhall. The Magistrates' Courts Committee's position on these two courts remains unchanged,” he added.

“The crown court at Bury will not stop sitting completely, although the bulk of the work will be listed in the new building in Ipswich.

“There are plans to use the crown court in Bury as another magistrates' court, but these are in the very early stages. However, within the next couple of months we will start to see cases being listed in the crown court room.

“This will help us try to improve the speed at which we can list cases and reduce any delay in listing trials, although this will not be at the expense of either Mildenhall or Sudbury.

“There is still too much work for the west Suffolk magistrates to deal with just in the Bury courthouse alone.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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