Wednesday, 21 July 2010


I welcome Plaid's campaign against the proposed closure of three Gwent magistrates courts. The UK Government has announced plans to close Abertillery, Abergavenny and Chepstow magistrates courts, not to mention the county courts in Chepstow and Pontypool as part of plans to modernise and improve the court service.

The UK Ministry of Justice published it's consultation documents on June 23rd as part of it's plans to close 103 magistrates’ courts and 54 county courts in the UK which it deems to be underused and inadequate. The consultation documents can be viewed on the Ministry of Justice website. The closing date for responses is September 15th. In Wales, Magistrates and County Courts are under threat of closure and may be affected: 

The following Magistrates courts:

Barry Magistrates' Court, Aberdare Magistrates' Court, Llwynypia Magistrates' Court, Ammanford Magistrates' Court, Cardigan Magistrates' Court, Llandovery Magistrates' Court, Denbigh Magistrates' Court, Pwllheli Magistrates' Court, Flint Magistrates' Court, Chepstow Magistrates' Court, Abertillery Magistrates' Court, Abergavenny Magistrates' Court, Llangefni Magistrates’ Court.

The following County courts:

Chepstow County Court, Aberdare County Court, Rhyl County Court, Pontypool County Court, Llangefni County Court.

The Ministry of Justice's real motivation is to cut costs, just like all the over Government Departments, make no bones about it this cost cutting efficiency agenda is being is being driven by the Con Dem Government in London - and it part of the price that we are all paying (and going to pay) for the bailing out the banks. While there are no doubt real opportunities to cut costs, save money and make the system more efficient, there is a danger of real damage being done to peoples access to justice.

Plaid Cymru in the National Assembly has tabled a statement of opinion against the proposals to close 18 law courts in Wales. The UK Government needs to reconsider its decision, because the majority of the proposed closures in Wales would have a significant impact, not only on jobs and services but on the efficient functioning of the criminal justice system. There is a real risk that any closures will also have a knock on effect as there will be increase in travelling expenses and also higher costs will be incurred by delays in hearing cases.

So much for easy access to Justice - one more sound argument in support the need to devolve control of Criminal Justice to Wales. 

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