Last Minute Reprieve for Ely Magistrates' Court

PUBLISHED: 14:18 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 May 2010

COURT staff and magistrates are celebrating today (Thursday) after discovering that that Ely courthouse has been granted a last-minute reprieve. The Ely Standard understands that two magistrates of the five who resigned in protest have decided to stay in

COURT staff and magistrates are celebrating today (Thursday) after discovering that that Ely courthouse has been granted a last-minute reprieve.

The Ely Standard understands that two magistrates of the five who resigned in protest have decided to stay in post.

One member of staff said: "This is good news for local justice. I am delighted that local justice will continue in Ely."

A second member of staff added: "I feel like I have been kicked from pillar to post, but we are all very pleased at the news."

The court was due to sit for the last time on March 26 but today cases have been adjourned to later dates.

Police, the probation service, Jim Paice MP, councillors and Ely lawyers had all expressed concerns about the court's closure, news of which was leaked to the Ely Standard last spring.

Her Majesty's Courts Service had been asked to make £1million of savings in East Anglia - but the closure of the court also drew widespread condemnation from members of the public and led to the Ely Standard's Save Ely Magistrates' Court campaign.

Magistrate Kathy Bradney - who has spent two decades at Ely courthouse - sat on the bench for the last time today, despite the news.

"She is adamant that she has made the right decision, and we respect that," deputy bench chairman Harvey Harrison told the court and assembled magistrates during a short ceremony. "This lady was not for turning.

"In the light of recent developments she made the bold decision to resign, it was her decision, and we respect her for that. But I have been trying to persuade her to carry on to 20 years of service."

Mr Harrison said Mrs Bradney had shown "a caring, thoughtful and kind" approach to staff and defendants. She was chairman between 2000 and 2002, and Mr Harrison also paid tribute to her work in the youth court.

Kathy - a former chairman of the bench - thanked staff and colleagues for their help and support.

Legal advisor Di Pinter added: "She has been loved, she always has a sense of humour, and we will miss her."

At the time of publication, the Ely Standard is awaiting a confirmation statement from HMCS, but it is thought the reprieve has been granted after procedural inaccuracies.

* Magistrate Stewart Rogers resigned with immediate effect after being told the courthouse was to close.

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