National Association of Local Councils blasts MoJ court closure plans
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has called on the Government to halt its court closure plans, warning that they will leave communities without local access to justice.
NALC said it understood that the Government wanted to bring quicker and fairer access to justice and create a justice system that reflected the way people used services.
However, it said it did “not in principle believe that this will be achieved by closing nearly hundred local courts”.
The Association added: “It is true to an extent that straightforward, transactional matters, such as paying a fine and obtaining probate can be dealt with using digital technology to make the processes simpler.
“NALC also believes that it is also very important for our communities in parished areas that they should not have to travel very long distances to get justice, especially where there is poor public transport provision.”
NALC said it was against the proposed court closures in principle as 71% of parish councils were rural. In these cases the use of private transport was often the only viable way to travel, it argued, “so local court closures could adversely effect those without access to a car”.
Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of NALC, said: “The National Association and our member councils know that court closures are coming. Whilst we accept that there is scope for efficiencies in the system, our prime concern is about the potential loss of community access to justice and the lack of local administration of the law.”
The Ministry of Justice’s closure plans, which have been the subject of consultation, have also met with strong criticism from councils including Bridgend County Borough Council and Dartford Borough Council.