The Ministry of Justice has announced its intentions to reform the HM Courts and Tribunals Service, which could lead to the closure of Bath Magistrates’ and County Court.
The Ministry of Justice is attempting to modernise the courts service and make it more efficient.
They plan to reduce the amount of activities which need to be done physically in court, instead investing in digital technology for example with the use of video links to prisons.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service currently operates from 450 courts and tribunals, costing the taxpayer half a billion pounds each year.
As part of their plans, they have identified 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales, 16% of the capacity, which are on average only used a third of their available time.
Unfortunately, one of the courts operating well below the capacity is Bath Magistrates’ and County Court.
Commenting on the announcement, local Bath MP Ben Howlett said: “I am concerned that given the size of Bath and the wider rural communities it serves, residents will be disadvantaged when trying to access the justice system.
“I understand that changes to justice processes need to be made, and welcome the roll out of better technology to not only make efficiency savings but improve the service for users across Bath, England and Wales.
“However, Bath residents’ access cannot be jeopardised and I will be meeting urgently with the Secretary for State for Justice and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, responsible for the consultation, to ensure that our views are taken into account.
“I have also contacted Bath Courts for an urgent meeting given the number of staff employed by the service.
“As part of the Consultation, the Ministry of Justice has asked for opinions on ways we would like to interact with the courts and tribunals in our local area.
“In particular, if you have any ideas of other buildings which could be used if a closure is announced or ways to ensure transport issues are taken into account, please do send me an email or write to me at the House of Commons.
“I want to hear as many views as possible from constituents so I can best represent them at the consultation.”