Fears growing for court house future

09-0565-2''Mansfield Magistrates Court

09-0565-2''Mansfield Magistrates Court

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A solicitor has expressed fears that Mansfield Magistrates’ Court could be facing the axe under a new wave of budget cuts.

Simon Greaves, who regularly works as a defence lawyer at the Rosemary Street courthouse, says Mansfield could closed as the Government looks towards further savings.

Mr Greaves, who is also the leader of Bassetlaw District Council, said moves towards centralising the justice system are being mooted, which could eventually mean all cases being heard at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

“At a senior level especially, the thoughts are moving towards one court for each county,” he added.

“That would be based on capacity and that would mean pressure being placed on Mansfield to move everything over to Nottingham.

“Nottingham is a big building with plenty of court rooms.

“It’s all due to the reduction in funding, and whether we agree with it or not, everything is being moved towards centralisation.”

Scores of magistrates courts have been closed across England and Wales in recent years in a bid to cut costs.

Worksop Magistrates’ Court was closed last year, with all cases now heard at Mansfield Magistrates’.

Travelling times mean many defendants often find themselves unable to reach hearings on time, resulting in warrants being issued for their arrests.

Mr Greaves added: “You end up with local justice being dispensed on a regional level and it does not work in my view.

“People should be prepared because it’s all driven by cash. The only way to save money is to continue with this centralisation plan, and I know these things are being discussed in the background.

“I believe that in terms of Mansfield and Ashfield, it would be very sensible for the political leadership to make it very clear now that they would want to maintain this facility.”

In response, an HM Courts & Tribunals Service spokesperson said: “There are currently no plans to close Mansfield Magistrates’ Court, however our estate is a major asset, and in an increasingly digital world we are actively looking at ways to improve the way we use our buildings to deliver the best possible service to our users.

“Any new proposals on the future of courts will be subject to consultation.”