A ‘sad day for town’ as court closure approved

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THE decision to close Daventry Magistrates’ Court has been labelled as a ‘very sad day for the town’ by a former JP.

It was announced in The House of Commons on Tuesday that the court is one of 93 across England and Wales being axed as part of the Government’s deficit-reduction programme.

Towcester Magistrates’ Court will also be closing meaning cases from both courts will be heard at Northampton. A date for the closure is yet to be confirmed.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly also announced the Government will shut 49 county courts as the current system is ‘unsustainable’.

But Councillor Chris Over, who was a member of the Daventry magistrates’ bench for 12 years, said after the announcement: “I think this is a sad day for Daventry.

“I think it’s very important that justice is seen to be done locally by local people. It seems to me these things go together and that’s the great benefit of having a court in the town.

“There’s also a sense of civic pride with having a court in the town and I think this news is very sad, particularly as Daventry is set to grow in the years ahead.

“You would think there would be good reason to retain the court in the interest of justice. It’s known as a building of some distinction and will be missed.

“Even though I’m a Conservative councillor I don’t always agree with the party policy and I don’t think this decision is the best one that’s been made.”

Brian Johnson, a senior probation officer from Northamptonshire Probation Trust, has also warned about the dangers of closing the town’s court.

He said it will make it harder for people to keep appointments with their probation officer, may increase incidents of people breaching their probation requirements and may make it harder for courts to deal with those breaches.

It is estimated that the closure programme will save the Government at least £15 million a year in running costs, plus an extra £22 million in maintaining the buildings. Shadow justice minister Andrew Slaughter accused the Government of ‘crude cost-cutting’ after the announcement.