WISBECH Magistrates’ Court is one of 93 announced for closure this afternoon (Tuesday).
Despite local pleas to keep the court, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said following public consultation on proposals to close 103 magistrates’ courts and 54 county courts, the government has decided that 93 magistrates’ and 49 county courts will be closed.
It is claimed the move to reform the court estate will help deliver a modern, efficient justice system with victims and witnesses at its centre.
Mr Djanogly today announced that £22m of capital will be reinvested to improve and modernise the courts to which work will transfer as a result of the closures.
Mr Djanogly said: “Access to justice is not just about access to buildings. It’s about the type of justice delivered, decent facilities for victims and witnesses and efficient use of the system.
“Our court estate has simply not kept pace with the changing nature of our society or with the demands modern society places on our justice system. An estate of over 500 court buildings is not now necessary or sustainable, nor is it a reasonable expense for the taxpayer.
“We are closing the worst courts in the estate – so we can concentrate our limited resources on the best ones. We are investing in the court estate with new buildings and with refurbishment of facilities.
“We have listened to the significant points made by respondents to the consultation. As a result we have decided not to close 15 courts which were included in the consultation.
“There will be longer journeys for some to their closest court but we should not operate courts just to shave minutes off a journey that many will never need to make.”
In the case of each court closure a full implementation plan will be produced to ensure the smooth transfer of court business.
Locally, campaigners argued closing the Wisbech court would disadvantage people across Fenland.
The Wisbech work load will move to Peterborough, which is said to offer better facilities.