The Government is currently consulting on plans to close 91 Courts and Tribunals in England & Wales.
This will impact upon approximately 57 Magistrates Court, 19 County Courts, 2 Crown Courts, 4 Tribunal Hearing Centres and 9 Combined Courts. This is approximately 20% of the current number of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service Courts and Tribunal Hearing Centres. Furthermore the Government has announced that it intends to integrate a further 31 Tribunals in England & Wales.
The Government’s decision comes in the wake of attempts to cut the tax payer’s bill. It is estimated that the current bill to the tax payer for running Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service is approximately 5,000,000 per annum.
The Government also hopes that the changes to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service will provide better access to justice.
Technology such as video, telephone and on-line conferences will reduce the need for face to face hearings, and these will be reserved for more sensitive and complex cases. In rural parts of the country, public buildings may be used for hearings instead of courts. A spokesman for the Government has said that “despite the changes, more than 95% of citizens will be able to reach their required courts within an hour by car”.
The local courts which will be affected if the changes are implemented are:
Colchester County Court & Family Court
Colchester County Court Offices
Bury St. Edmunds Magistrates Court & Family Court
Bury St. Edmunds Crown Court