Hartlepool council to ‘vehemently’fight plans to close town’s courts

Hartlepool Law Courts, incorporating Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
Hartlepool Law Courts, incorporating Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
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Councillors have vowed to fight against Government plans to close the town’s Magistrates and County Court.

The call came during a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council, where it was agreed to submit a response to the Ministry of Justice against the proposals.

It is vitally important we fight to retain court services in Hartlepool because once they have gone it will be so hard, if not impossible, to get them back.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher

If given the green light, the courts’ closure could see cases being held in Middlesbrough.

The courts and tribunal service says it is modernising the justice system to create a simpler, swifter and more efficient service – using modern technology to meet the needs of everyone who uses them now and in the future.

However, council leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said closing the courts was an “ill-thought-out proposal” and called for all members to “voice their opposition to closure” by agreeing to vehemently oppose the proposal.

He said: “It is ironic that as this nation marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna-Carta – which amongst other things promised swift justice – we are facing this threat to Hartlepool’s courts.

“There has been a court in Hartlepool since 1987 and I would urge consensus from all members to voice their opposition to closure by agreeing to vehemently oppose the closure.”

He added: “It is vitally important we fight to retain court services in Hartlepool because once they have gone it will be so hard, if not impossible, to get them back.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said according to the deputy chairman of the bench Martin Slimings JP that based on the town’s population a closure would save just a few pence per person per year.

It was agreed to note the Ministry of Justice plans to close the courts and for a response to be finalised to the Government department before the deadline of October 8.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court and County Court is one of a number of courts which is being recommended for closure by the government.

Staff and workers at the court in Victoria Road have been informed.