A rallying call has been made for people to oppose the proposed closure of Hartlepool’s Magistrates’ Court and County Court.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, the leader of Hartlepool Council, and two members of he Bench of Justices in Hartlepool have joined forces to urge people to express their dissatisfaction by taking part in a Government consultation.
Both the council and the justices have already voiced concern that the closure proposals will seriously disadvantage local people.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It is inconceivable that a town the size of Hartlepool should not have its own Magistrates’ Court and County Court. It will be so unfair to people who will be forced to bear the cost of travelling to Middlesbrough if the closures go ahead.
“It is vitally important that 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.”
The Ministry of Justice is proposing to close the town’s courts and transfer their business to Teesside Magistrates’ Court and County Court in Middlesbrough.
It argues that many current courts and tribunal buildings are under-used and of poor quality, and says the proposed closures are part of a wider package of measures that will modernise the justice system.
The council has sent out a questionnaire and people have been asked to respond by tomorrow.
People can also get further information and take part in the consultation at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposal-on-the-provision-of-court-and-tribunal-es.