ASSURANCES have been made that there are “currently no plans” to close Spalding Magistrates’ Court.
Fears that the court was to be closed “by the back door” surfaced earlier this month when its cells were taken out of use because they were deemed unfit for use by prisoners amid health and safety concerns.
But South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes – who was instrumental in a campaign to save the court when it faced the axe in 2010 – says he has been assured by MP Jonathan Djanogly, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, that its future is assured – for now at least.
In a letter to Mr Hayes, Mr Djanogly says: “There are currently no plans to close Spalding Magistrates’ Court.
“HM Courts and Tribunal Service aims to achieve an estate of appropriate capacity to meet business need, which is also efficient and less costly to run.
“It continually reviews the estate to ensure it is well utilised and offers the best possible quality of service and facilities to users.
“Any new proposals to close courts beyond those already announced will be subject to consultation.”
Mr Hayes welcomed the news, saying he believes witnesses to crimes are less likely to come forward if they know they would have to travel to Grantham or Lincoln to give evidence in court.
He said: “Moving courts further away inhibits justice and is not acceptable.”
Fears for the court’s future were voiced by magistrate Richard Spinks, who was also central to the successful campaign against closure.
He said the body that inspects the courts is unhappy with the cells and the winding staircase from the cells up to the court.
He claimed that the higher management of the courts’ service wants Lincolnshire to have one massive modern court at Lincoln where all cases would be heard.
Mr Spinks said: “I think that’s somebody’s real agenda if they were honest and spoke the truth.”