Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has today said he is “delighted“ by the Ministerial announcement that Cambridge Magistrates’ Court will remain open after the Ministry of Justice withdrew the proposal to close the court stating that “the value-for-money case for closure has not been made“. This comes after a six-month consultation process, which was proposing for the city court to be closed as part of a wider reform programme to make efficiency savings in the service.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, says: “I am delighted that the Government has withdrawn its proposal to close Cambridge Magistrates’ Court. Over the last few months, I have visited each court building in the city, hosted meetings with lawyers and key Government officials and repeatedly challenged Ministers in the House of Commons.”
“Working with other campaigners, the City Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Magistrates and local lawyers, Cambridge has presented a united front. I would like to thank all those that engaged with me and the consultation process. Together, we have made a very strong case, which has been listened to. Now we need to make sure that the Court is properly staffed so it is used to its full potential, and the very long waits for listings are reduced.”
In January, the Ministry of Justice launched a series of consultations to close eight courts across England as part of a £1 billion savings programme of the HM Courts & Tribunals Service. Cambridge Magistrates’ Court was one of the sites selected for proposed closure, which would have seen court provision relocated across the county to Huntingdon and Peterborough.
Mr Zeichner staunchly opposed the closure proposal, arguing that justice should be served locally. He also expressed doubts as to whether it would bring effective cost savings for the Ministry of Justice and was concerned by the increase of travel time for court users going to Huntingdon or Peterborough. The impact report stated that to get to Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court, it would have taken 45 minutes for users if going by car and 95 minutes if using public transport.
Over the last 6 months, Mr Zeichner has coordinated a campaign to keep the court open by meeting and speaking with key stakeholders, including the head of the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, Cambridge city defence lawyers, the police and court staff. Feedback from court users and service providers was that of concern, which Mr Zeichner conveyed in his own consultation response to the Ministry of Justice. The Cambridge consultation received around 280 responses, which were considered before a final decision was made.