§ Baroness Byford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by Mr Wills, Parliamentary Secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department, on 7 March (HC Deb, 407W), how many and which of the courthouses closed are more than 10 miles away from the nearest operational courthouse. [HL3614]
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg)
I attach a table which sets out the courthouses listed in the Answer of 7 March (HC Deb,407W) and whether they 145WA were more than 10 miles away from the nearest operational courthouse.
However, further information on courthouse closures has been received from the magistrates' courts committees since that Answer and there were five courthouses of which my department had not been informed previously. I have therefore added those closures to the attached list and identified them.
MCC Magistrates' Courthouse Closure Dale More than 10 miles Bedfordshire Apmthill 01 Jan 00 Bedfordshire Biggleswade 01 Jan 00 Y Bedfordshire Dunstable 01 Jan 00 Bedfordshire Leighton Buzzard 01 Jan 00 Y Cambridgeshire March *31 Dec 98 Y Cambridgeshire* Newmarket 31 Dec 98 Cheshire Warrington Patten Hall 01 Apr 01 Previously incorrectly listed as both Warrington Patten Hall and Worcester Cheshire Macclesfield Park Green 01 Apr 01 Cumbria Appleby 31 Mar 98 Cumbria Keswick 30 Apr 00 Y Cumbria Appleby 31 May 00 Y Cumbria Windermere 31 May 00 Cumbria Wigton 31 May 00 Y Derbyshire Alfreton 01 Jan 01 Y Derbyshire Ashbourne 01 Jan 01 Y Derbyshire Bakewell 01 Jan 01 Y Derbyshire Matlock 01 Jan 01 Devon and Cornwall Bideford 30 Apr 01 Y Devon and Cornwall Exmouth 30 Apr 01 Y Devon and Cornwall Kingsbridge 30 Apr 01 Y Devon and Cornwall South Molton 30 Apr 01 Y Devon and Cornwall Teignmouth 30 Apr 01 Devon and Cornwall Tavistock 30 Apr 01 Y Devon and Cornwall Axminster 04 May 01 Devon and Cornwall Tiverton 04 May 01 Y Devon and Cornwall Newquay 30 Jun 01 Y Devon and Cornwall Womborne 31 Aug 01 Dorset Christchurch 31 Mar 99 Dorset Gillingham 30 Sep 01 Y Durham Barnard Castle 31 Dec 98 Y Essex Braintree 31 Dec 97 Essex Clacton on Sea *31 Oct 97 Y Essex Saffron Walden *31 Dec 98 Y Gloucestershire Stow on the Wold 30 Jun 99 Y Greater London Marlborough Street 31 Mar 98 Greater London Clerkenwell 31 Dec 98 Greater Manchester Ashton under Lyne (Manchester Road) 31 Aug97 Greater Manchester Duckinsfield 31 Aug 97 Greater Manchester Leigh 31 Mar 01 Greater Manchester Middleton 31 Mar 01 Gwent Bargoed *31 Dec 97 Gwent Monmouth 31 Dec 97 Y Gwent Pontlottyn *31 Dec 97 Gwent Pontypool *31 Dec 97 Hampshire & Isle of Wight Southampton (Commerical Road) 31 Aug 01 Hertfordshire Bishop's Stortford 31 Mar 98 Y Hertfordshire Hatfield 31 Mar 98 Hertfordshire Hitchin 31 Mar 98 Humberside Bridlington 09 Nov 01 Humberside Brough 09Nov 01 Y Humberside Driffield 09 Nov 01 Y Humberside Hull (Guildhall) 09 Nov 01 Humberside Hull (Lowgate) 09 Nov 01 Humberside Pocklington 09 Nov 01 Y Humberside Withernsea 09 Nov 01 Y Kent Sheerness 31 Dec 98 Y Kent West Mailing 31 Dec 98 Kent Gravesend 09 Jun 00 Lancashire Lytham 31 Dec 98 Leicestershire Lutterworth 31 Jul 98 Y Lincolnshire Market Rasen 31 Mar 98 Norfolk Diss 31 Dec 98 Y North Wales Corwen 31 Dec 98 Y North Wales Abergele 31 Dec 00
The Government's policy is that decisions on the number and location of magistrates' courts in England and Wales are for the individual magistrates' courts committees to determine, in consultation with their local paying authority. In addition, the magistrates' courts committees are not statutorily required required to inform the Lord Chancellor's Department of proposed courthouse closures.
[Note "+" has been used to mark the entries that are new and ("*") has been used to mark the closure dates that have changed1]147WA
MCC Magistrates' Courthouse Closure Dale More than 10 miles North Yorkshire Stokesley 31 Dec 97 Y North Yorkshire Malton 06 Feb 98 North Yorkshire Ripon 01 Aug98 Y Northumbria Hebburn 05 Jun 97 Northumbria South Shields (Kepple Street) 05 Jun 97 South Wales Pontawade + 09 Oct 97 South Yorkshire Thorne 31 Aug 97 Y Staffordshire Lichfield 31 Mar 00 Staffordshire Leek 31 Mar 01 Y Staffordshire Womborne + 01 Sep 01 Y Suffolk Felixstowe 31 Dec 98 Y Suffolk Haverhill 31 Dec 98 Y Suffolk Saxmundham 31 Dec 98 Y Suffolk Stowmarket 31 Dec 98 Y Surrey Chertsey 31 Mar 98 Surrey Farnham 31 Mar 98 Y Surrey Oxted 31 Mar 98 Y Sussex Arundel + 01 Dec 01 Thames Valley Abingdon 31 Mar 99 Thames Valley Henley on Thames 31 Mar 99 Thames Valley Windsor 31 Mar 99 West Mercia Bromsgrove 31 May 97 West Mercia Bridgenorth + 31 Jan 02 Y West Mercia Leominster + 31 Jan 01 Y West Mercia Ledbury 31 May 97 West Yorkshire Morley 31 Mar 99 West Yorkshire Pudsey 31 Mar 99 West Yorkshire Keighley 01 Apr 00 Wiltshire Chippenham (Market Place) 30 Jun 97 Wiltshire Wootton Bassett 2 Oct 00 + Where a court have been added. * Where information changed.
§ Baroness Byford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many courthouse closures have taken place since November 2001; and how many more courthouses are planned to be closed. [HL3615]
§ The Lord Chancellor
In relation to the Crown Court and county courts, only Chepstow and Monmouth county courts have closed since November 2001. A proposal to close Gateshead county court is currently going through public consultation, but no final decision has been made. Public consultation has also taken place on the proposal to close Gravesend county court. Following the consultation the decision has been taken that the court will not close until an alternative venue can be found in Gravesend to hold hearings.
No Crown Court closures are planned, with the exception of the satellite Crown Court at Knutsford, where public consultation started on 10 April. There is an on-going process of consultation in relation to the civil courts which started with initial consultation through the Modernising the Civil Courts consultation process in 2001. This is looking to future methods by which the civil courts will deliver services. The aim is to maintain a sitting presence in current locations and in fact I anticipate an overall increase in the number of places where sittings take place, particularly in rural areas where there is a civil justice need not currently being met.
The Government's policy is that decisions on the number and location of magistrates' courts in England and Wales are for the individual magistrates' courts committees to determine, in consultation with their local paying authorities. Although the department collects details concerning the closure of magistrates' 148WA courthouses only quarterly in arrears, we are aware so far that since November 2001 Arundel magistrates' courthouse was closed on 1 December 2001 and Bridgenorth and Leominster courthouses were closed on 31 January 2002.
The magistrates' courts committees are not statutorily required to inform the Lord Chancellor's Department of proposed courthouse closures. However, a paying authority can lodge an appeal to the Lord Chancellor against a proposed courthouse closure. The department has received seven appeals that concern the proposed closure of the following courthouses:
Magistrates' Courts Committee Area Courthouse Kent Tunbridge Wells Norfolk Fakenham North Yorkshire Pickering Richmond Whitby Thames Valley Thame Wiltshire Trowbridge, Devizes