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Court Closures

Volume 577: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2014

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service continues to keep the use of its estate under review to ensure it meets operational requirements. Any new proposals to close courts or tribunals beyond those already announced would be subject to consultation.

For too many years Bolton magistrates court has been dogged by rumour of closure, when what the court needs is stability. Can the Minister assure me that there will be no further change of mind on the future of Bolton magistrates court?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, as far as I am aware, there are no plans at present as regards Bolton magistrates court, but he will appreciate that the court estate has to be kept under review to ensure that it meets operational needs. In the event that anything happens, there will be a consultation. Nothing is planned for Bolton magistrates court.

How many magistrates courts does my hon. Friend think could be closed if they no longer had to deal with television tax evaders?

I do not have the answer off the top of my head, but I am happy to look into the matter and try to provide one.

Proposals to merge Wrexham and Flintshire magistrates court benches are being carried forward without public consultation. Does the Minister think that is appropriate?

In relation to court closures, Medway magistrates court has an excellent virtual court scheme. However, funding has not been renewed for the scheme, which has received national recognition. Will the Minister review that and confirm the Government’s commitment to virtual court schemes?