MP asks minister to pledge to keep local courts open

The Justice Minister failed to promise to keep Rotherham and Barnsley magistrates’ courts open, after being challenged in Parliament by MP John Healey.

During a debate yesterday on young offenders, Mr Healey asked Crispin Blunt MP: “Does the Minister agree that the best efforts to reduce reoffending are often based on local courts with good local knowledge, working closely with local agencies?

“We have a very good magistrates court in Rotherham for Rotherham, and a very good one in Barnsley for Barnsley. Will he rule out any further magistrates court closures, which might put local justice in jeopardy?”

Mr Blunt replied: “The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that I cannot do that.”

Mr Healey said afterwards: “I know my concerns about the impact of budget cuts on our local courts are widely shared, including by magistrates.”

In 2010 Mr Healey joined other Barnsley MPs in campaigning against proposals to close Barnsley County Court. The Government changed its plans and kept the court open.