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We’re being denied access to justice – says former JP

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A county councillor for Sutton Bridge and former magistrate is backing MP John Hayes in his last-ditch bid to save Spalding Magistrates’ Court.

Chris Brewis, who represents Sutton Bridge, says people from his part of the world and other remote South Holland communities are being denied proper access to justice with hearings now taking place in Lincoln, Grantham and Boston.

A return train trip to Lincoln from Sutton Bridge takes seven hours.

Coun Brewis said: “I believe that removing the court in Spalding is very serious. There are no effective bus services from Sutton Bridge to Grantham and a rail alternative means going via Peterborough.

“This denies local people access to justice. It is especially important if young people are involved.

“Someone from Long Sutton or Sutton Bridge wishing to reach Lincoln by public transport must catch the 05.51 train from King’s Lynn, and change at Ely, Peterborough and Newark North Gate.

“It is ridiculous. The only, and expensive, alternative is for hearings to be held out of county in King’s Lynn, Wisbech or Peterborough.”

The Spalding court was de-listed in December – closed in all but name – but the motoring court, family court and youth court were stripped away earlier.

Family work was at first transferred to Grantham, but cases are now heard in Lincoln. Youth courts are held in Grantham and Boston.

Coun Brewis said the “bizarre decision” to de-list the court needs “reversing forthwith”.

He asked: “Innocent until proven guilty? More like isolated, whether innocent or not.”

The South Holland and The Deepings MP put the “access to justice” case to the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, at the Ministry of Justice, and says Mr Grayling is concerned about distances travelled, particularly where witnesses are concerned as they may be reluctant to appear and cases could be jeopardised.

Mr Hayes has a second meeting lined up with the Lord Chancellor in five weeks.

 

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