Impact of closures of Wakefield and Rotherham magistrates court revealed

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An on-line map showing the potential impact of plans to close more than 90 courts in England and Wales has been launched by the Law Society.

Proposals to shut 91 court and tribunal buildings, including 57 magistrates’ courts, are the subject of a Government consultation.

The Law Society, the professional body for solicitors, has produced the interactive map, which explains where cases will move to and gives estimates of likely journey times to alternative courts by car and public transport.

Under the Government proposals, 10 courts in London would close, along with 52 magistrates’ courts elsewhere in England and Wales, including those in Dover, Shrewsbury, Stafford, Rotherham, Hartlepool, Wakefield, Watford, Burton-on-Trent, Bournemouth and Torquay.

The plans, announced in June and subject to a consultation ending in October, aim to adapt the court estate to the digital age, reduce the number of underutilised courts, and cut annual running costs of around £500 million.

Travel time data contained in the proposals predicts that switching cases from Skegness to Boston will mean only 3% of local people using public transport can reach their new court centre within an hour.

Solicitors are being invited to submit their views to the Law Society to help formulate the body’s response to the proposed closures and “integration” plans for other court and tribunal buildings.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “Promoting and protecting access to justice for all, whoever and wherever they are, is a core value uniting our diverse membership.

“We need our members’ views and case studies so that we can respond to the Government proposals for the closure and integration of courts and tribunals across England and Wales.

“Our interactive map shows members, at a click, how courts in their area could be affected by the Government’s proposals.”

The Government’s consultation estimates that 95% of citizens would be able to reach their required court centre within an hour by car if the changes go ahead.

:: The map can be found at www.lawsociety.org.uk