Anger as Government says there are 'no plans' to reopen Hartlepool's law courts

Angery has greeted confirmation in Parliament that the Government has no plans to reopen Hartlepool’s law courts.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:45 am
The Government has confirmed in Parliament that there are no plans to reopen Hartlepool's law courts.

It comes after nearby Labour MP Alex Cunningham, the Shadow Minister for Courts and Sentencing, submitted a written Parliamentary Question asking if there were plans to re-open the Victoria Road premises.

Chris Philp MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, has responded saying: “There are no plans to re-open this court and we are working with the local council to find an alternative use for the former court property.

“Hartlepool Magistrates’ and County Court closed in 2017 following a full public consultation and workloads were successfully transferred to Teesside Magistrates’ Court and Middlesbrough County Court.

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Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, has called the decision not to reopen Hartlepool's law courts "irresponsible".

“We will continue to keep our court and tribunal estate under close review to make sure it meets our operational requirements.”

After receiving the answer, Mr Cunningham, who represents Stockton North, called the decision “irresponsible” in light of the backlog of magistrate court cases – now at 400,000 – across England and Wales.

He added: “During the Hartlepool by-election Boris Johnson came to the town and promised to ‘level up the North’.

“Now there’s a chance to do so and restore services to the town, his Government refuses to do so. It makes you wonder what they’ll renege on next.

“Not only is their failure to re-open the magistrates’ court a failure of their ‘levelling up’ agenda, but it’s deeply irresponsible in light of the backlog of court cases.

“The Government should be doing all it can to reduce it – including re-opening the Hartlepool Magistrates’ Courts – to ease the pressure elsewhere and support victims of crime in their pursuit of justice.”

Hartlepool law courts closed in January 2017 as part of a plan to axe around a quarter of magistrates’ courts nationwide in a bid to reinvest savings in the justice system.

The town’s new Conservative MP, Jill Mortimer, said: “Within the few weeks since being elected I have been fighting hard to deliver good things like the 25 million pound Towns Fund deal, extra funding for Hartlepool College and restoring services like the custody suite.

"I am determined to keep working hard for all the people of Hartlepool and Mr Cunningham would do well to attend to his own constituency instead of playing politics with mine."