The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has demanded that the Government puts a halt to its closure plans of local courts.
NALC wants the Government to understand that proposing the closure of dozens of local courts like in market towns (with town councils) will leave justice gaps in towns as large as say Shrewsbury and Taunton, which will leave communities without local access to justice.
NALC responses to the Government’s proposals for the closure and integrations of courts and tribunals across England and Wales are as follows:
NALC understands that the Government wants to bring quicker and fairer access to justice and create a justice system that reflects the way people use services today – we do not in principle believe that this will be achieved by closing nearly hundred local courts;
It is true to an extent that straightforward, transactional matters, such as paying a fine and obtaining probate can be dealt with using digital technology to make the processes simpler. NALC also believes that it is also very important for our communities in parished areas that they should not have to travel very long distances to get justice, especially where there is poor public transport provision;
We agree that the Government must ensure that access to justice is maintained, even in more rural locations, we are against these proposed court closures in principle as 71% of parish councils (according to Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) are rural – and where the use of private transport is often the only viable way to travel, so local court closures could adversely effect those without access to a car.
Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of NALC, said: “The National Association and our member councils know that court closures are coming. Whilst we accept that there is scope for efficiencies in the system, our prime concern is about the potential loss of community access to justice and the lack of local administration of the law.”
To find out more information about Government’s proposals for the closure and integrations of courts and tribunals across England and Wales, read here