The news that Lowestoft and Bury St Edmund Courts are to close as part of government cost saving measures (despite strong representations from lawyers and elected members across the county) will come as a bitter blow to Suffolk residents. (Background here). Court closures are already national news because of the hardship these will cause – specifically in rural areas.
Now Suffolk’s Lib Dem PCC candidate, local solicitor, Helen Korfanty is calling for a fightback.
“Call this justice? ” she asked in a letter to the EADT .
“We should continue the fight to save Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds’ Courts.
I was one of the lawyers who wrote to Michael Gove about the planned court closures.
I recommended that if the government insists on selling off court buildings then Ipswich Magistrates’ Court could share a building with Ipswich Crown Court (Crown Courts are underused.) They could then sell one building and Lowestoft Courts could be saved.
If they wanted to save money in Bury St Edmunds they could either rent out the upper floors of the Magistrates’ Court Building or combine the family and Criminal court into one building. The savings would far outweigh any costs of adapting one of the buildings.
He never responded to my suggestions.
We should not despair. Lowestoft is due to close first. We can monitor and report on the problems that we know will inevitably follow. If the building is not sold off immediately the government has the chance to change its mind.
Bury St Edmunds Courts are due to close in September. Dare I think it is because the government is still not sure that their plans are workable!
If we don’t succeed we can press the government to pay for all the computer access to the court BEFORE the buildings are closed down, and insist that the hardpressed police budget does not have to pay for it all.
Liberal Democrat Candidate
For the Police and Crime Commissioner of Suffolk
pub, East Anglian Daily Times Friday, 12th February 2016