HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has spent £23.5m on 10 court building schemes that have been cancelled or deferred as a result of spending cuts, the Gazette has learned.

According to a freedom of information response, nine projects were deferred in anticipation of the 2010 spending review, with seven of those projects later cancelled.

One further project was halted following the spending review and remains under review.

Sunderland Justice Centre (pictured) is one of the projects awaiting a decision. Nearly £2m has been spent on the building programme, which has been lying dormant since 2010.

Labour MPs in Sunderland are campaigning for the building programme to be restarted as a ‘matter of urgency’.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said the current magistrates’ court is not fit for purpose. ‘I know from speaking to local magistrates how keen they are that rebuilding work goes ahead. Victims of crime deserve court facilities fit for the 21st century,’ she said.

Of the 142 buildings earmarked for closure by HMCTS in December 2010, only one – Rhyl County Court – remains open. It will close in April.

The cancelled and deferred court projects include: Aberystwyth Law Courts, Aylesbury Crown Court, Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, Bradford Magistrates’ Court, Bolton Combined Court, Gloucester Law Courts, Snaresbrook Crown Court, Sunderland Justice Centre, West Bromwich Magistrates’ Court and Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court.