The Ministry of Justice has given some insight into the reasons behind its decision to close a court that campaigners have bitterly fought to save.
The closure was opposed by the county and district councils. Responding to written parliamentary questions from Conservative MP for Chichester, Andrew Tyrie, justice minister Shailesh Vara said the government evaluated the impact on the police, district council and other local services.
Vara said: ‘In recognition of the particular circumstances of court users in Chichester, the combined court centre will not close until suitable local alternative provision is in place.’
An HM Courts & Tribunals Service document on ‘potential implementation dates’ for when courts will ‘cease to provide a public-facing service’ states that Chichester Combined Court (crown and county) will close between January and March next year.
Vara acknowledged that the demand for ‘justice services’ may be different in the future ‘due to many factors including, but not limited to, demographic changes’.
But he said the decision to close courts in Chichester was made ‘on the basis that the receiving courts have capacity to accommodate current and future projected workloads’.
Chichester Magistrates’ Court, which houses the first-tier tribunal (property chamber), is due to close between October and December this year.
Vara said options on the tribunal's relocation are ‘currently being evaluated’.