The news in the Citizen last night about how the Gloucester Magistrates Court is going to be restricted in use to just a couple of days a week with most of the work going to Cheltenham and Stroud really worries me in terms of restricting justice as well as delivering cuts by the back door.
A while ago (2010), there was huge debate about closing Magistrates Courts and I was one of those (a JP at the time) who argued against the proposals to go down to just two courts, and at the time it seemed sence prevailed and Gloucester was spared the chop.
However it seems that it all catches up with us because the court is now going to two days per week with all work going to Cheltenham and Stroud. We are assured that this is not down to cost, but what other excuse could there really be. For me, none of my original arguments have changed, this is bad for those having to attend court, many of which find access difficult enough as it is. Those in the Forest have a huge Journey to Cheltenham or Stroud. Also don;t forget the poor JP in this too, they are volunteers, and will now be making much larger journeys to do this and we don;t need new JP’s to be put off, and losing the diversity of the bench because it’s just too much inconvenience to handle.
There is a small positive light that this could be showing and that is that the levels of crime have gone down sufficiently that there is no need for justice to be presided over, however I don’t really believe this is the case, but it’s maybe more about where the justice is being handled.
I hope this is looked into and a rational explanation given.