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The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has  condemned yet more potential court closures. The plan to close 9 more courts is a further hammer blow to access to justice and will mean staff and the public travelling further, in more difficult circumstances at greater cost.

The government has opened a 10-week consultation on its plans which will displace more than 130 staff and propose the closure of:

Banbury county court and magistrates’ court

Blackfriars Crown Court

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court

Chorley Magistrates’ Court

Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court

Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court

Northallerton Magistrates’ Court

Wandsworth County Court.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This announcement is yet another hammer blow to local justice from a Tory government with a sorry record of closing over 38% of courts and tribunals since 2010.

“We do not accept that closing any of these courts would improve the quality of the service the Ministry of Justice provides. We do not accept that the changes that HM Court and Tribunals Service is making and envisage for the future, are about improving the justice system or access to justice.

The new Justice Secretary should order a review into the court closure programme and halt any further closures pending full discussions with the unions”

PCS believes 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 HMCTS staff. Indeed HMCTS concedes it is doing this to ‘release funding.’ We believe this is the primary reason for the proposals.

PCS believe HMCTS has been intending to close these courts for some time and that work has been moved or proposed for removal to facilitate closure. Indeed this is referred to in the consultation in relation to Blackfriars Crown Court.

PCS believe these closures will result in delays to cases being heard. It is even more alarming that HMCTS has also launched a 10-week public consultation on the main strategic principles when considering future closures.

These proposals come at a time when staff morale has been damaged by previous closures, job cuts, pay restraint, and an attendance management process that PCS maintain is discriminatory and privatisation threats.



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By MIchael Calderbank

Foreword by Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary


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