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MP angry at decision to close Sittingbourne Magistrates Court

15th December 2010
MP angry at decision to close Sittingbourne Magistrates Court

Local MP, Gordon Henderson has hit out angrily at a decision by the Justice Department to close Sittingbourne magistrates’ court.

The court is one of 10 magistrates’ courts and 54 county courts that are due to close in England and Wales.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly, made the announcement in a statement to the House of Commons this week.

Mr Djanogly told MPs that the changes would pave the way for a better, more efficient and modern justice system, but Mr Henderson hit out at this claim saying that it insulted the intelligence of his constituents.

Mr Henderson said:

“I am very disappointed at the decision to close Sittingbourne magistrates’ court, which flies in the face of logic and has ignored a mountain of evidence that shows clearly that its closure will bring real hardship to people living in parts of my constituency.

“I would have accepted the closure of the Sittingbourne court if the Justice Department had been able to put forward a reasoned argument based on facts. Sadly it did not. Instead its argument was deeply flawed.

“For instance, the Justice Department consultation document claimed that it takes under an hour to travel by train from Sittingbourne to Medway or Canterbury. What the paper conveniently ignored was the time taken to get to Sittingbourne from places such as the east end of Sheppey.

“The truth is that in parts of my constituency the delivery of justice will now become a public transport lottery, with journeys from Eastern Sheppey to Medway taking at least three hours and with a real risk of not being able to get home at all if somebody is attending an afternoon court session, because the last bus from Sheerness to Leysdown leaves at 6pm.

“Ministers insist that their proposals will make the justice system better and more efficient. Such statements simply insult the intelligence of my constituents.”

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