Access to justice will be restricted even more than planned after HM Courts & Tribunals Service announced today that it is shutting down a London court for four months so that building work can be carried out.
Croydon is being adapted to accommodate additional work arising from the closure of one of its neighbours, Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court.
However, working with contractors on what building works need to be done to Croydon, HMCTS said 'the most recent and detailed reports have shown that more work is needed than was originally anticipated. This will require the installation of site hoarding and internal scaffolding in the public concourse. As this would create too much disruption we will temporarily close the court for a few months while the work is carried out'.
The court will be closed from September until the end of the year. During that time, criminal cases will be heard in Camberwell, Wimbledon and Lavender Hill courts. Family cases will be transferred to Wandsworth County Court.
The news comes hours after HMCTS published its 2019-2020 business plan, which states that in the longer term 'we will have fewer, better buildings'.
'Long-term aims' are to use the buildings more effectively and keep them in better condition and redesign buildings that are fit for purpose 'to support wholly new routes for justice and the new ways that we work within them'.
HMCTS says priorities now are to deliver 'visible and tangible improvements' in court buildings, use data from its building survey project to develop a five-year programme 'that will give us a true picture of the whole estate’s condition' and 'continue to make sure that we are using buildings as effectively as possible'.
Meanwhile, with a heatwave predicted to bring temperatures above 35C to parts of the UK this week, practitioners reported on Twitter that the air conditioning had failed completely at Liverpool and Basildon Crown courts, and two courtrooms at Oxford Crown Court.