Ann Coffey MP and Stockport Magistrates joined forces to present the case for the retention of Stockport Courthouse in a face to face meeting with the Justice Minister this week.
Ms Coffey along with Margaret Parker and Paul Brearley, the Chairman and deputy Chairman respectively of the Bench in Stockport, and William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove, met Shailesh Vara, the Justice Minister, who assured them that no final decision had yet been taken to close the Court.
Mr Vara listened intently to a presentation by Mrs Parker and Mr Brearley who told the minister that the financial case for the closure of Stockport Court house had not been made and that there was no evidence that the closure would lead to better access to justice or save money.
They said the Stockport Courthouse was fit for purpose had been modernised and provided many different services including adult and youth work, a family hearing centre, the county court and tribunals and a highly effective problem solving court.
Its use as a Justice centre would benefit the public in a safe and secure environment that is easily accessible. It is also accessible for all the services supporting the courts.
Afterwards the minister said it had been one of the most constructive meetings he had held on the issue of court closures. He thanked them for the practical nature of their arguments and their approach.
Ann Coffey said: “The excellent arguments that Margaret and Paul put forward, drawing on their expertise as members of the Bench in Stockport, were strong, practical and persuasive.
“The minister told us it was one of the most constructive meetings he had held on the court closure issue and assured us that his department would carefully consider all our arguments. He stressed it was a genuine consultation and that no final decision had been taken.”
Ms Coffey suggested other ways that the Stockport Court house could be used, such as for pre-recording cross examinations of vulnerable child witnesses under Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act and providing facilities for people who do not have access to the internet to pay such things as parking and traffic offences fines quickly and efficiently.
She also said that long delays in bringing cases to the Crown Court in Manchester could be tackled by having more jury trials heard in local courthouses such as Stockport.