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Sutton's MPs Defend Court Future

July 6, 2006 5:47 PM
Tom Brake with local Magistrate Roger Duckworth and Chairman of Sutton Magistrates Graham Reed

Tom Brake MP, with Deputy Chairman of Sutton Magistrates Roger Duckworth (centre) and Chairman of Sutton Magistrates Graham Reed (left) outside the Magistrates' Court in Wallington, checking the distance to Bromley Court which is being proposed as an alternative for some of Sutton's cases.

Sutton's Liberal Democrat MPs Tom Brake and Paul Burstow defended the future of Sutton Magistrates' Court yesterday in a debate in Parliament with Bridget Prentice, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Mr Brake, who secured the debate, cited his concern that local authorities can no longer appeal a decision made by Her Majesty's Court Service, and that relocating the court would cause considerable strain on local police and people attending court as they would have to undertake the journey between Sutton and Croydon or Bromley, where cases would be moved in the event of a closure.

Mr Brake also asked the Minister to guarantee a published response and time for debate should proposals for closure be made in the future.

Ms Prentice reassured that there are no plans to close Sutton Magistrates' Court and praised the high standard of work done at the Court. Though commending the work of Sutton magistrates, Ms Prentice did say plans to cluster London Courts were under constant review.

Commenting on the debate, Mr Brake said, "The Minister's reassurances are welcome, but we remain vigilant. Sutton Court provides essential services to the area but is being starved of administrative resources that it needs now. This does make the Court vulnerable because it is not able to tackle the volume of cases that its capacity would allow. I welcome further information from the Minister."

Adding to the debate, Mr Burstow, MP for Sutton and Cheam, said "Local people want, need and deserve to have local justice delivered by local magistrates close to home."

Since the debate, Mr Brake has written to Bridget Prentice asking her to investigate reasons why the Court is not receiving sufficient funding to recruit administrative staff

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