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Newbury magistrates court to close by June

Credit: ITV news

The Government has confirmed that Newbury Magistrates' Court will close by June this year. Cases will be moved to Reading.

Opponents had argued it was unfair to make victims of crime, solicitors and police offices undertake the 80 mile round trip to Reading but the Government claims the court was only working at 11 per cent capacity and closing it will save more than £100,000 each year.

The closure is part of a plan to save £500 million. Other courts in the region also face closure including

Aylesbury Magistrates' Court, County Court and Family Court Bicester Magistrates' Court and Family Court Chichester Combined Court (Crown and County) Chichester Magistrates' Court Dartford Magistrates' Court Dover Magistrates' Court Eastbourne Magistrates' Court, County Court and Family Court Tunbridge Wells County Court and Family Court Bournemouth Magistrates' Court Dorchester Crown Court Fareham Magistrates' Court

The parliamentary under-secretary of state for courts and legal aid, Shailesh Vara, said the court service's estate was "underused" and cost the taxpayer about £500m every year. He said better access to justice could only be provided if "difficult decisions" were taken to reduce the cost of the estate and reinvest the savings. "Last year over a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than 50% of their available hearing time," he said. It's believed technology such as video, telephone and online conferencing will reduce the need for face-to-face hearings

The Public and Commercial Services union, which represents many court workers, said the proposals would restrict access to justice. It promised to challenge the Ministry of Justice's method for calculating underuse of courtrooms.

General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With courts closures and cuts to legal aid, access to justice has been significantly restricted by the previous government and now this one. We do not believe it is in the interests of justice to leave our communities without easy access to courthouses and tribunals."


Protesters object to council cutbacks in Kent

Protesters gathered outside County Hall in Maidstone as councillors met to set the budget and next year's council tax.

Kent - like most councils - wants to increase the tax by a maximum 3.99%

In addition, it needs to make savings of around £110 million.

Councillors have suggested 150 jobs could go - in addition to the 2000 it has been forced to shed over last five years. Andrea Thomas reports.

Murder accused: 'no way' he could have killed Georgina

The man accused of murdering Hampshire grandmother, Georgina Edmonds, took to the stand today - and told the jury about his previous convictions, including drug taking.

Matthew Hamlen from Bishopstoke said being questioned by the police over the 77-year-old's murder 'felt like hell'. And that there was no way he could be forensically linked to the pensioner's home.

Georgina Edmonds was killed at her cottage in Brambridge in January 2008. The 37-year-old is standing trial a second time after being acquitted in 2012. He denies murder.

Andrew Pate reports.


Fred and Sangeeta have the latest on fire-risk tumble dryers

Politicians and consumer groups have demanded action over fire-risk tumble dryers.

Whirlpool has safety warnings on some of its Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda models - but admits that, with as many as five million products affected, there are months of delays in reaching customers.

We've been following this story - ever since a family was forced to flee their home after a tumble dryer fire in Guildford, in Surrey. Hundreds viewers have contacted us - and we've been telling your stories - including that of Peggy Collis, from Hayling Island, who looks after her disabled husband. A viewer from Bournemouth has come to her rescue.

Viewers buy new tumble dryer for pensioners, worried about fire risk

Pensioner Peggy Collis thought she was going to have to wait two months before anyone came to look at her tumble dryer. She was worried that it might be a fire risk. Generous viewers came to the rescue. As Sally Simmonds reports, Peggy and her husband, who live in Hampshire, are absolutely thrilled.

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