Council to fight plans to close court

The building that contains Morpeth County Court.
The building that contains Morpeth County Court.

The leader of Northumberland County Council is calling on MPs and councillors to speak out against the proposed closure of Morpeth County Court.

It is one of 19 such facilities across England and Wales that are set to no longer operate as the Government says they are being underused. A consultation is currently being carried out by the Courts and Tribunals Service.

If the proposals are approved, this would leave the majority of residents and organisations from across the 5,013km² of Northumberland having to travel to Newcastle.

Some court business, yet to be determined, would be moved to Bedlington Magistrates Court, with the small court office at Berwick-upon-Tweed continuing to operate on a limited basis.

County council leader Grant Davey said: “Yet again we are seeing services moving out of Northumberland.

“It will make it very difficult for people to attend or afford to make court appearances, particularly as the Government’s changes to the legal aid system disadvantage the poor – this will make matters much worse.

“It will place an additional burden and inconvenience on our residents and businesses, especially those who rely on public transport, access to wh-ich can be limited in rural areas.

“It will also place additional pressures on the council, which is already facing £44million of cuts from central Government, as officers will be faced with having to travel to, and pay for parking, in Newcastle.

“We currently make regular use of Morpeth County Court for a range of matters, including child and adult care proceedings as well as prosecutions and housing proceedings.

“I am therefore calling on our local MPs and councillors, especially Conservative ones, to fight this proposed closure.”