New fight for Ely Magistrates’ Court

ELY Magistrates’ Court is facing another desperate battle against closure after Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) judged it to be “underused and inadequate”.

ELY Magistrates’ Court is facing another desperate battle against closure after Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) judged it to be “underused and inadequate”.

The Ministry of Justice has included the Ely courthouse in wide-ranging planned cutbacks to save money and transform the criminal justice system.

But the announcement has caused anger in the district and comes less than a year after residents were told by HMCS that the court would remain open for the ‘foreseeable future’.

A public consultation has been launched by HMCS which, it says, will seek the public’s views on the potential closure before any decision is made.


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Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council Fred Brown, said: “We always knew that Ely was one of the courts that was put up the last time for the review and I think it is disappointing that it has come so soon.

“I think we have a strong argument to retain the court, it is very well connected as far as the rail links are concerned and i think Ely has got a lot going for it.

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“The court is part of being a city and it has historic links with the city of Ely.”

The announcement this week that the magistrates court in Ely was facing the axe came alongside plans by HMCS to close 103 magistrates’ courts and 53 county courts across the country, closures which would save the service some �15 million in running costs annually.

In May 2009, the Ely Standard received a letter from Keith Budgen, regional director for HMCS in the south east, which confirmed that the court would remain open for the foreseeable future and that the decision to close the court would only be made after ‘extensive’ public consultation.

The Standard helped collect more than ???? signatures on a petition sent to HCMS and was informed by Mr Budgen that a ‘comprehensive and honest’ assessment would be made if in future the decision was made to close the court.

Courts Minister Jonathan Djanogly, said: ‘When public finances are under pressure, it is vital to eliminate waste and reduce costs. The Government is committed to supporting local justice, enabling justice to be done and seen to be done in our communities.

‘The arrangements we have are historical and now need to be re-assessed to ask whether they properly meet the needs of communities as they are today.

“The Lord Chancellor and I are keen to hear the views of everyone with an interest in local justice arrangements. He will take all views into account before making any decision on which courts ought to be closed and when.”

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