Warning over impact of planned Rotherham Magistrates Court closure

Rotherham Magistrates Court, Main Street, Rotherham.
Rotherham Magistrates Court, Main Street, Rotherham.

Plans to close Rotherham Magistrates’ Court will result in over one-third of victims, witnesses and defendants facing journeys of more than an hour to attend cases, the Law Society has claimed.

The Government is proposing shutting the court and transferring its work to Sheffield.

The Law Society, the professional body for solicitors, say its figures indicate only 64 per cent of people living in areas currently covered by Rotherham Magistrates’ Court would be able to get to Sheffield by public transport within an hour.

A Law Society spokesman said: “The Government says that following proposed court closures, over 95 per cent of citizens will be able to reach their required court within an hour by car. However, we know that many people trying to attend court rely on public transport.

“According to the Government’s figures, closing Rotherham Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court would mean only 64 per cent of magistrates and family users, and 65 per cent of county users, could reach their new court within one hour by public transport.”

The details have been included in a new online map on the Law Society’s website.

Proposals to shut 91 court and tribunal buildings, including 57 magistrates’ courts, are the subject of a Government consultation.

The plans, announced in June and subject to consultation ending in October, aim to adapt the court estate to the digital age, reduce the number of under-utilised courts and cut annual running costs of around £500 million.

Solicitors can submit their views to the Law Society to help formulate its response to the proposed closures and ‘integration’ plans for court and tribunal buildings.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “Promoting and protecting access to justice for all, whoever and wherever they are, is a core value uniting our diverse membership.

“We need our members’ views and case studies so that we can respond to the Government proposals for the closure and integration of courts and tribunals across England and Wales.

“Our interactive map shows members, at a click, how courts in their area could be affected by the Government’s proposals.”

The Government’s consultation estimates that 95 per cent of citizens would be able to reach their required court centre within an hour by car if the changes go ahead.