Magistrates courts hit by closures

TWENTY Magistrates Courts are due to be closed as part of a cost-cutting programme expected to save the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) £360m.

The MOJ detailed plans of the closures yesterday as part of its contribution to an £11bn savings plan introduced by the government.

Justice secretary Jack Straw said: “Due to the low utilisation rates and in some courts, physical constraints, I do not believe it would provide good value for money to spend taxpayers’ money to bring these buildings up to the required standard.”

Regional courts in areas such as Borne, Bridport and Dorking are set for closure.

The Law Society said of the closures: “We support efforts to cut costs provided that they do not affect the independence and efficiency of the legal system.”

The MOJ said it expected to deliver a further £343m in savings this year through a series of measures, including relocating 1,000 posts out of central London, spending less on procurement, streamlining the Legal Services Commission and reducing the cost of civil service by 20 per cent.

Straw said: “The efficiency savings will ensure that whilst making these important changes we continue to deliver frontline services across the justice system and ensuring best value for tax payers’ money.”