Jobs saved at court as review begins

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

JOBS at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court are safe for the time being after the building was left off a list of 17 courts that have been recommended for closure.

Members of staff were relieved to find that the court on Darlington Street is not one of those that the Ministry of Justice has recommended to be closed as part of Government plans to reduce ‘under-used and poor quality’ court buildings.

On the list, which was announced on Thursday by Courts Minister Shailesh Vara, are 14 magistrates courts in the North West including St Helens Magistrates’ and County Court.

Three county courts in the region including Warrington and Bolton could also close, although the buildings will remain open.

Mr Vara said: “We are reforming the courts and tribunal service so that it meets the needs of modern day users. Access to justice is not just about attending court. As we bring in digital technology for better and more efficient access to justice, fewer people will need to physically be in a court.

“This means that we will need fewer buildings, and with many already underused and in poor quality, now is a good time to review the estate.”

A 12-week consultation ending on October 8 will now take place but many jobs could be lost if the closures go ahead.

A spokesman for the PCS union, which represents court staff, said: “Our members in all the courts slated for closure are extremely worried about their futures.

“They don’t believe the MoJ has made out a case for closure and they don’t feel confident that they would be able to find other comparable work.