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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."

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