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MP to challenge verdict on town’s county court

Thursday 24th June 2010 (Andrew Griffiths)

Helen Kreft

BURTON’S MP has said he is writing to government ministers in the hope of stopping the closure of the town’s county court.

Andrew GriffithsBurton county court may be shut as part of proposals to modernise and improve the use of courts in England and Wales.

The Ministry of Justice has announced the possible closure as part of a plan to shut 103 magistrates’ and 54 county courts ministers say are underused and inadequate.

Consultation papers have now been published stating Burton County Court, in Station Street, is at risk of closure, but the town’s magistrates’ court, in Horninglow Street is not under threat.

Tory MP Andrew Griffiths said the cuts have to be made to ‘pay the bills left behind by Labour’.

He said: “However I am keen to ensure we keep as many services and jobs in the town as possible. I will be arguing strongly for the retention of Burton County Court and will be writing to the minister with reasons why it should stay.

“I think it is an invaluable and important facility and if it disappeared people would be forced to go some distance which is very inconvenient.” If the proposed changes are implemented, HMCS (Her Majesty’s Courts Service) say the running costs could be reduced by £15.3 million a year, along with a saving of £21.5 million on maintenance costs.

HMCS currently operates out of 530 courts, some of which, it says, do not fit the needs of modern communities.

Labour Party member Ruth Smeeth, who lost out to Mr Griffiths in the May election said if the county court shut it will mean families will be forced to travel long distances to Stafford or Stoke.

She said: “I think this is one of many cuts that the new coalition government will make which will impact on local people.

“It shows they are putting money in place of justice.

“It is regrettable that cuts have to be made and it will take much longer for people to get justice.” If Burton’s County Court, which deals with civil matters such as debt repayments, divorce and adoption, housing disputes and personal injuries, closes, it could mean a merger with the magistrates’ court which concerns itself with criminal matters, or a transfer to another county court.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court and Derby county courts also will not be affected under the proposals.

The closing date for consultation responses is September 15.

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