Council criticises court closure plans

Calderdale Council

Proposals to close Halifax County Court and Halifax Magistrates and Family Court have been firmly rejected by Calderdale Council. 

In a written submission to the consultation on the future of the courts by HM Courts and Tribunal Service and the Ministry of Justice, the Council has refused to support the proposals. 

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said: 

“There has been cross-party concern and disappointment at these proposals, both in terms of the impact they would have on residents in Calderdale and also on Council services. 

“We feel that it is a vital part of our legal system that we have local justice so that cases are tried within the community where the offence was committed.  People want the reassurance that when a crime has taken place there is a process which they can see leads to a prosecution and ultimately a conviction.  

“We also need magistrates to be drawn from our local community so that they understand the context in which a crime has been committed.  And it’s vital that it is as easy as possible for witnesses and family members affected by a crime to attend court easily, without the need for expensive and time consuming journeys to Bradford.”  

The Council’s response to the consultation acknowledges that a change to the current system is necessary, but suggests that a better alternative to closing both courts would be to combine them into the Halifax Magistrates Court building.   

Located centrally within Halifax, the Magistrates Court is a good quality building, with good access and appropriate interior space which could be adapted for this use. This would ensure that there is still good local access to justice, but at the same time would provide financial savings and the opportunity to provide a better service. 

The consultation will close on Thursday 8 October 2015.

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