08:00 Friday 07 December 2012

MP's fury as time finally runs out for county court

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

BURTON County Court is to close within months, the Mail can reveal.

Burton County Court
Burton County Court

Time has finally run out for the Station Street courthouse which was spared the axe two years ago.

News that the court will close in March has been met with fury by Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths, who was central to saving the court in 2010.

It was one of 49 earmarked for closure two years ago, but after being given a stay of execution, it was hoped the court would remain open for at least three years, with a consultation period and discussions over its long-term future promised.

But it has now come to light that the court will close in just three months’ time, with it still currently undecided where cases from Burton and South Derbyshire will be held, with the court saying the jurisdiction is to be split ‘between several courts’.

The news came as a shock to Burton’s enraged MP, who said the closure ‘could not be allowed to happen’.

Mr Griffiths insisted he would be making contact with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, but any attempts to stave off the closure appear to be unlikely with the court confirming it is to shut its doors for the final time on March 22, 2013.

Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “I am astounded to learn a date for the closure has been certified without any public notification or consultation.

“Back in 2010 we were assured that the court would stay open for a further three or four years. We need a county court in Burton. No analysis has been published, no discussion has taken place, this decision seems to have been taken without anyone’s involvement.

“I immediately picked up the phone and demanded a meeting with the minister to find out how this could be allowed to happen.”

Sarah Brown, from the South Derbyshire Citizens Advice Bureau, which was involved in the original campaign to save the court said the closure would hit people in the region hard.

She said: “It’s going to be a massive blow to our clients. With a lot of bankruptcy cases, people have to go to their nearest court, so the implications are going to be massive in terms of travel costs and they may put it off or not go through with the process altogether.

“We’re trying to talk to the court to get the best possible strategic plan in place and are trying to influence as much as we can, but I don’t know how much impact it will have.”

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