Courthouse closure plan a disgrace - MP

A SUFFOLK MP last night branded plans to close a courthouse, which he claimed threatened to destroy the local criminal justice system, as a “complete disgrace''.

Laurence Cawley

A SUFFOLK MP last night branded plans to close a courthouse, which he claimed threatened to destroy the local criminal justice system, as a “complete disgrace''.

Consultation on plans to shut Mildenhall Magistrates' Court were announced yesterday by the Ministry of Justice. Cases previously heard in Mildenhall would be transferred to Bury St Edmunds under the plans, which the ministry claims will deliver a “more modern justice service” which “puts the needs of victims and witnesses first”.

The proposed closure of Mildenhall court comes in the wake of previous closures in Haverhill and Newmarket.

Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, said: “It makes me sick really. This is yet another and final attempt to destroy the local criminal justice system.

“There will be no small courts left in west Suffolk if Mildenhall closes,” Mr Spring said. “The whole system is being run in the interests of those who run the system - this is a complete disgrace and those who have been party to this should be ashamed of themselves.”

Most Read

The court in Mildenhall, which has not had a case listed there since the beginning of the year, was built around 1890 and justice chiefs claim it is no longer suitable for court service.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: “Going to court should not place undue stress on victims and witnesses of crime. We have made significant improvements in the facilities for these court users.

“However, many of the courts that we are consulting on closing do not have suitable facilities for victims and witnesses; in addition a number of the buildings do not allow adequate access for disabled court users. I do not believe it would provide good value for money to bring these buildings up to the required standard at the taxpayers' expense.

“I am keen to hear the views of court users and other interested parties; the consultation exercises will allow them to express their views on the proposals. I will make a decision on how to proceed after consideration of those representations.

“Together these proposals set out a positive step forward to ensuring that HMCS provides sufficient accessibility whilst directing and prioritising its resources to where they most matter for the communities it serves.”