Liberal Democrats have warned the closure of Greenwich Magistrates' Court and Woolwich County Court threatens to undermine access to justice for local people in Greenwich Borough.
Victims and witnesses will have to travel up to an hour and a half away to Bromley in order to attend their nearest court or tribunal proceedings rather than going to their local magistrates' court.
Greenwich Liberal Democrats support any attempts to upgrade our legal system but this should be done while maintaining a high functioning and local justice system.
Local Liberal Democrat activist Paul Chapman said, “Both Greenwich Magistrates' and Woolwich County Courts have served our community well. Taken in the context of further cuts to local government budgets which will have a clear effect on the services residents expect, these court closures comes at the worst possible time. I urge the Government to think again and conduct a truly local impact assessment before ramming this through.”
“Bromley is almost inaccessible from much of Greenwich Borough. TfL journey times show two or three changes and 100 minutes from Thamesmead or 80 minutes from Charlton. Quite frankly, it's totally unacceptable. No doubt the court buildings will be sold off to become even more over-priced and unaffordable luxury homes.”
Liberal Democrats Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks QC said, “Publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on court closures as Parliament rises for recess is a sneaky move to prevent debate on an issue fundamental to British justice.
“The closure of courts, particularly in rural areas, threatens access to local justice. There are clear savings to be made in the Court system, but simply shutting courts at the expense of the communities they serve is not the right approach.
“Courts should only be closed where it can be demonstrated that local communities will not lose out. Greater efficiency cannot always be achieved by a ‘digital by default’ approach.”