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Waveney MP Peter Aldous vows to continue town court campaign

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 September 2015

Potential closure of Lowestoft Magistrates Court.

Picture: James Bass

Potential closure of Lowestoft Magistrates Court. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2015

Waveney MP Peter Aldous will continue to "make the case strongly" for the retention of the courthouse in Lowestoft.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: James BassWaveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: James Bass

With MPs returning to parliament yesterday (Monday), Mr Aldous vowed to continue the campaign after the Ministry of Justice proposed closing two of Suffolk’s three magistrates’ courts.

Mr Aldous said: “It’s not acceptable that there would only be one magistrates’ court left in Suffolk. With people in the Lowestoft legal community, we have campaigned very strongly already for the court to remain open in Lowestoft and that is something that we are continuing to do, to build this up before the consultation closes.”

He added: “When Parliament returns, I will continue to make the case strongly and will liaise closely with my colleagues.”

Last month, The Journal reported on how solicitors in Lowestoft had pledged to put forward a blueprint for a new court hub on the east coast in a bid to stave off the closure of the town’s magistrates’ court.

The courthouse in Old Nelson Street, Lowestoft was earmarked for closure last month after justice minister Shailesh Vara said the courts system “will need fewer buildings” in future.

Mr Vara said buildings that were not fully used at the moment were targeted as part of a review of the court estate nationwide.

However in a meeting to discuss the closure he assured Lowestoft solicitors Rob Barley and Kelly Church, from Norton Peskett, and Mr Aldous that it was not a “done deal” and that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) would listen to alternatives.

The counter proposals being drawn up by solicitors in Lowestoft centre around three scenarios – one which looks at the impact of keeping Lowestoft Magistrates’ open and closing the court in Great Yarmouth, one which looks at the opposite and another which looks at combining the two.

The MoJ’s proposal to close courts in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft would leave only the Ipswich court open in the county – meaning Suffolk will be one of just six English counties with a single magistrates’ court if the moves go ahead.

This week Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is completely unacceptable. The people at the Ministry of Justice have got to understand Suffolk is a very big rural area and access to justice should not be the preserve of those who are well-off, privileged or the comfortable.

“Has anybody got any idea about how long it would take to travel from Haverhill to Ipswich or Oulton Broad to Ipswich?”

He added: “The proposals are ill-thought out, ill-conceived and they need to go back to the drawing board.”

■ What do you think about the proposal to close Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB.

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