The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Wednesday, 26 February

Courting Controversy as Gove Seeks Closures

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has caused disquiet with his wish to close more courts and tribunals in a drive to cut costs.

A total of 91 courts and tribunals appear to be lined up in what Gove terms as 'surplus to requirements', along with the integration of a further 31 tribunals in England and Wales.

The Ministry of Justice had issued its Proposal on the provision of court and tribunal estate in England and Wales with consultation beginning on 16 July and closing on 8 October 2015 and in a written statement, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for courts and legal aid, Shailesh Vara, stated that the service's estate was ‘underused’ and cost the taxpayer about £500 million every year.

‘Last year over a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than 50% of their available hearing time," he said. ‘The buildings being consulted on represent 16% of hearing rooms across the estate which are, on average, used for only a third of their available time. That is equivalent to fewer than two out of five days in a week.’

However, concern was expressed by the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) that this proposal comes against a background of previous closures. It notes that 93 magistrates' courts and 49 county courts were closed in the last large-scale round of closures. It alleged that a number of these had not been sold and were still being maintained at taxpayers' expense, so the anticipated savings have not been realised. The closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales would mean that 38.5% of courts and tribunals would have closed since 2010.

“With courts closures and cuts to legal aid, access to justice has been significantly restricted by the previous government and now this one,” argued Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS. ”We do not believe it is in the interests of justice to leave our communities without easy access to courthouses and tribunals.”

For its part, a Law Society spokesperson told TwinFM: “Promoting and protecting access to justice for all, whoever and wherever they are, is a continual theme for the Law Society, and a core value uniting our diverse membership. We will respond to the government proposals for the closure and integration of courts and tribunals across England and Wales following consultation with the profession, including assessing the potential impact on legal aid tender bids.”

Picture: The scales of justice may be tipping towards more closures of courts and tribunals if Michael Gove has his way

Article written by Mike Gannon

Share


Related Tags


Related Articles

Appointment is Quite Capital

In line with its purchase of a 175,000sqft office campus in Hemel Hempstead, Tristan Capital Partners has appointed property advisory firm Capital Properties to manage...

 Read Full Article
University of Life Under the Hammer

Strathclyde University’s Jordanhill Campus is up for sale in the largest development opportunity in Scotland so far this year. Set in a predominantly residential...

 Read Full Article
Vroom With A View - Bicester Plans Automotive Resort

Bicester Heritage has planned a 344-room hotel as part of an overall vision for a souped-up automotive resort on a former RAF site. The plans have been submitted for...

 Read Full Article
Wake-up And Smell The Coffee - Starbucks Takes LEED

Starbucks has just opened  the first-of-its-kind drive-thru in Yeading with new sustainable design features. The brand new store is LEED (Leadership in Energy and...

 Read Full Article
Hoxton Hub

International co-working developer, Areaworks, opened  its first site in the UK, in Hoxton, East London, on the evening of July 5. It brings a new way of working...

 Read Full Article
Property Price World Cup - England Fall At Final Hurdle

London’s West End has been ranked second most expensive office market in the world with the City of London back in the Top 10 - but which city keeps on giving a...

 Read Full Article
Is Retail Property Heading Down The Rabbit Hole?

How the disappearance of well-known retailers from the UK’s high streets is affecting the commercial real estate market - author of the Cass Commercial Real Estate...

 Read Full Article
Global Operators Sail Into Edinburgh Marina

Camper & Nicholsons Marinas have confirmed that it has agreed terms with Granton Harbour to design, commission, manage and operate the new Edinburgh Marina, the...

 Read Full Article
Return of the Oxford to Cambridge Line Steams Ahead

A direct rail link between the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge took a step closer in the week ending December 15 as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling...

 Read Full Article
Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky - Embracing The Tree In The Hendrikx Experience

A proposal to create the world’s first growing architecture, involving tree-like buildings that absorb CO2, has won the BSRIA and Designing Buildings Wiki...

 Read Full Article