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Plan to close Newbury magistrates' court denounced by MP

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image captionRichard Benyon said victims of crime would have to travel to Reading to give evidence

The MP for West Berkshire has denounced plans to close the magistrates' court in his constituency, calling it a "blow for local justice".

Richard Benyon accused the HM Courts and Tribunals Service of deliberately lowering usage of the court at Newbury to "warrant its closure".

It is one of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) plans to shut down.

The MoJ said modern technology would allow for a more "efficient service".

'More straightforward process'

An MoJ statement read: "Straightforward, transactional matters, such as paying a fine and obtaining probate can be dealt with using digital technology to make the processes as straightforward as filing a tax return.

"Many straightforward cases do not need face-to-face hearings."

Mr Benyon argued that victims of crime in his area, which includes Lambourn, Newbury and Hungerford, would have to travel to Reading to give evidence - which is about a 45-minute drive.

He said: "I believe that the court service has run down the use of Newbury court to claim that the level of usage warrants its closure."

Newbury's magistrates' court was saved from the axe in 2010 following a campaign by residents, although the town's county court was closed.

The MoJ has launched a consultation on the closures that will run for 12 weeks.

Related Topics

  • Richard Benyon
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Newbury

More on this story

  • 'Deliberate' reduction of cases at Newbury magistrates' court