News that Skegness Magistrates’ Court is scaling down to two days a week has sparked local fears that it may become another casualty set for closure.
A spokesperson from the Criminal Defence Associates firm of solicitors in Lincolnshire said there had been concerns amongst practictioners that it might be earmarked for closure after being informed that it plans to open just two days a week from April.
“There is a view that following so many court closures in Lincolnshire that Skegness may also become incorporated into Lincoln Magistrates’ Court,” he said.
“There does seem to be a pattern of scaling down courts before closure but nothing has been confimred by Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) regarding the closure of Skegness Magistrates’ - although not one single criminal defence solicitor has been consulted about the scaling down before it was decided.
“It would appear to be a cost cutting exercise but everything is interconnected so saving money in one area would just mean the cost being piled elsewhere - such as the cost of issuing warrants or transporting people from rural areas on low incomes who fail to appear.”
A Magistrates’ Court spokesman said there were no plans to close the Skegness court, which has just been given a new sitting pattern to increase efficency and effectiveness.
From April 1, it will be open for trials on Friday and other business on Tuesdays.
Skegness Mayor Jim Carpenter said he wasn’t aware of changes being made to the court.
“If this saves costs without losing business to the court then that has to be good thing, but if it leads to some people, especially witnesses or those in lower incomes, being inconvenienced then it is going to cause problems,” he said.
“It is an issue that I’ll be keeping an eye on,” he aded.