Ely Standard Petition Helps To Secure Future Of City's Magistrate's Court
HER Majesty s Court Service (HMCS) has confirmed to the Ely Standard that the Magistrates Court in Ely is to remain open for the foreseeable future . Court Officials confirmed this week that plans to mothball the court had been scrapped indefinitely aft
HER Majesty's Court Service (HMCS) has confirmed to the Ely Standard that the Magistrates' Court in Ely is to remain open for the 'foreseeable future'.
Court Officials confirmed this week that plans to mothball the court had been scrapped indefinitely after a petition, organised by the Ely Standard, carrying the names of hundreds of concerned readers was sent to the Lord Chancellor and HMCS.
The petition and a covering letter, sent in April, set out a clear case for the historic building remaining opening and raised concerns about the long-term affects of forcing people to travel long distances to neighbouring courts and the administration of justice in East Cambridgeshire.
The court had been scheduled for indefinite closure at the end of March but, after realising it had not followed procedure correctly, HMCS opted to reverse the decision, granting the court a temporary stay of execution.
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In a letter to the Ely Standard Keith Budgen, regional director of HMCS, said: "The first thing I should explain is that the proposal put forward by the area director was not to close Ely Magistrates' Court permanently but to temporarily divert its cases to Cambridge.
"However, after further consideration, the decision was subsequently taken not to make this change. I am able, therefore, to confirm that sittings will continue in Ely for the foreseeable future.
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"I appreciate the strength of feeling expressed by you and the signatories on your petition. I can, therefore, assure you that, in the event that HMCS would wish to permanently change any of the arrangements in the future, there will be full and transparent consultation."
Initial plans to close the court were announced in June last year and were met with public outcry and a number of high profile resignations. News that the long-term future of the court has been secured was welcomed by district councillor and former Ely mayor, Sheila Friend-Smith:
"It really is welcome news as I am a firm believer that justice should be kept local and should be seen to done locally.
"I think it also goes to show that you can change things you care about and that organisations will listen to public opinion, which is great."
MP for South East Cambridgeshire, Jim Paice, said: "This is a victory for local people who have battled hard to stop its planned closure and a victory for local services which otherwise would have taken another blow.
"Local people deserve local services and I am very glad that, in the end, our Magistrates Court has not fallen victim to centralised control.