Plans to close Wakefield Magistrate’s Court are ‘appalling’, says MP

Wakefield Magistrates Court.
Wakefield Magistrates Court.

Plans to close Wakefield Magistrate’s Court have been branded as “appalling” by an MP.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) announced the building is one of 86 courts and tribunals which will close across the country.

It comes after the government said the court system needed an urgent reform.

Cases will now be moved to Leeds Magistrates’ Court.

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford Yvette Cooper MP said: “This is an appalling decision by the government to shut Wakefield Magistrate’s Court.

“It shows ministers haven’t listened to any of our local evidence about the importance of keeping magistrates in Wakefield, Pontefract and the Five Towns area.

“It was bad enough to that they shut Pontefract just a few years ago - now they are completely destroying local justice.”

The government said that the facilities in Wakefield were sub-standard and out of date for staff.

It has decided to close 86 courts, which were deemed to be “under-used”, following a consultation.

Ms Cooper said: “Victims and witnesses are being badly let down as they will now face longer waits, longer journeys and more stress at a really difficult time.

“The justice system is supposed to support victims and communities - instead they are being ignored.

“The Tories are breaking the promises they made when they closed Pontefract that people wouldn’t have to travel out of the district.”

Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said: “Maintaining our underused and dilapidated court buildings costs the taxpayer £500 million a year but some courts sit for less than half the time available.

“This is simply unsustainable. Closing these courts in poor quality buildings will raise £40 million to re-invest in the justice system and save hard-working taxpayers £27 million per year.”