Barclay’s impassioned plea to save Fenland magistrates’ court
MP STEVE Barclay is to make an impassioned plea to the coalition Government to save Wisbech magistrates court by allowing it to take on the work of Ely magistrates’ court.
Mr Barclay, the MP for NE Cambs, will tell the Government the case for saving Wisbech is much stronger than that for Ely.
He is now drawing up his response to both Ely and Wisbech courts following the announcement of their threatened closures by Jonathan Djanogly, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice.
Mr Djanogly has launched a consultation paper that could see both courts disappear as part of a wide ranging national review.
However Mr Barclay believes the case for retaining Wisbech “is very different to that of Ely”.
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Mr Barclay says there are opportunities to increase the utilisation of the court at Wisbech, not addressed in the consultation papers.
“Specifically there is an opportunity to move some of the work currently conducted at Ely to Wisbech rather than Cambridge, a consideration that is not put in the consultation document,” he says.
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“This potentially will increase utilisation of Wisbech which more closely aligns with the document’s aim of 200 days utilisation.”
Mr Barclay has also drawn together other reasons for maintaining Wisbech, including the high cost of bus travel to Peterborough court and the rural isolation of some Fenland villages where no public transport would be available to allow witnesses or defendants to attend court.
In Murrow, for instance, he says there are no bus services to March or Peterborough in the early morning and a defendant or witness attending court could spend nearly �27 on taxi and train fares.
It would not be possible, he says, for people in Wisbech to be within a 60 minute commute of their nearest court- a key part of the consultation requirements.
With population increases and greater demand for the services of their local court, closure of Wisbech would cause “greater hardship from an increased travel requirement to Peterborough”.