Chorley Magistrates Court is under threat
Chorley Magistrates Court is under threat after the Government has launched a consultation on its future.
The 10-week consultation on plans to close down the Magistrates Court could also see staff lost or displaced across the estate.
Following the announcement Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle has written to the Justice Secretary and secured at meeting with the Minister.
Mr Hoyle said: “Chorley needs a Magistrates court, it is as simple as that. The whole point of a Magistrate is that justice is administered locally from within the community.
"People’s jobs are at risk and we know from closures of family courts and the county court that failures to attend massively increase when the court is further away, which costs even more time and money in the long run.
"When I met with the Justice Minister before the General Election I was assured that the Chorley site was safe and I want to know what has changed. I will work with staff and unions to ensure they are given a fair chance to keep this court open.”
Unions and staff believe that there has been an intention to propose closing these courts for some time and that work has been moved or proposed for removal to facilitate closure.
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents staff, said: “We believe the watchwords of efficiency and flexibility used by the department are euphemisms for cuts to a public service which is already creaking under unrelenting pressure and chronic underfunding and is largely reliant on the goodwill and professionalism of our members.
"Indeed HMCTS concedes it is doing this to ‘release funding.’ We believe this is the primary reason for the proposals.”
However the Ministry of Justice says that as court cases are held virtually and with people able to file for divorce and other claims online, the system needs to modernise.
Launching the consultation Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: “This government is investing over £1 billion to reform and modernise the justice system – making it more convenient, easier to use, and providing better value for the taxpayer.
"As we increase the use of digital services, it makes sense to consider the wider role and need for Court buildings and assess whether some are still necessary to provide effective access to justice.
"Where physical courts are to close, every penny raised will be put back into funding changes which will make justice easier to access for all at the same time as offering protections for the most vulnerable.”
To view the consultation see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/calls-for-views-on-transforming-court-estate