Hartlepool court closure will ‘compromise safety’, says union

Hartlepool Law Courts.
Hartlepool Law Courts.

A union has called on the Government to urgently rethink plans which if implemented will see the closure of Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court.

The town’s magistrates and county court, in Victoria Road, could close along with 90 others later this year depending on the outcome of a Government consultation.

This again shows that the Tory government are prepared to even compromise our safety.

Stuart Harrison, GMB organiser

A Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) document on the proposal reads that should the court close “an improved and a more efficient service could then be delivered”.

A spokesman for HMCS said he could not comment on potential redundancies or relocation while the 12-week consultation is taking place.

Now, the GMB union is calling Justice Secretary Michael Gove to reconsider the proposals, which they argue will “compromise safety”.

Stuart Harrison, GMB organiser, said: “The Government proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals will not only affect GMB members but front of house staff, security, custody staff and escort drivers etc.

“GMB are in the process of visiting these courts to talk to members about the affect these changes will have, as far as we’re concerned no consultations have yet taken place or arrangement put in place.

“GMB is calling on Michael Gove to rethink, this will not only put people out of work, but will also increase travelling time and cost for any relocations available.

“Even by Michael Gove’s standards the proposed cuts to the justice system of 91 court closures is drastic to say the least, security staff who are employed both in the courts and also providing services will be affected by the cuts potentially leading to job losses. This again shows that the Tory government are prepared to even compromise our safety.”

During 2014/15, Hartlepool’s court, which also has 10 cells, was used at about 47 per cent capacity, with operating costs totalling almost £350,000.