Plans to move criminal casework out of Dudley magistrates' court, West Midlands, are being reconsidered following opposition.
Under a consultation the government’s preferred option was to have criminal cases heard at courts in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall instead.
Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North, said if the plans went ahead, Dudley, which has a population of more than 300,000, would be the largest town in the country with no criminal court.
‘If criminal hearings move elsewhere it will be harder for local victims to testify, harder for local people to volunteer in court and harder for the press to deter crime by reporting on local cases. It could also mean that people working in the court have to move or be made redundant,’ said Austin.
HM Courts and Tribunal Service said it is reconsidering the proposals following opposition to them.
‘Due to the response to a recent consultation on listing arrangements for magistrates’ courts in the Black Country, the local Justice Issues Group has decided to review the proposals and produce a revised consultation paper,’ said a spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, a consultation on the proposed closure of the Neath Port Talbot Magistrates' Court in Wales ended on 7 November. 'The responses to this consultation will now be fully considered before any decision is taken,’ said David Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West.
Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, has attacked the Ministry of Justice following rumours that the remaining court in his constituency in Dolgellau is also earmarked for closure.
To date, 138 courts have been closed under the 2010 courts estate reform programme, with three more scheduled to do so. There has been speculation that the MoJ will announce 80 further court closures to meet its spending targets.