England

Judge recommends three magistrates' courts stay open

The Lord Chief Justice has recommended that three magistrates' courts in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire remain open.

The courts in Stroud, Frome and Trowbridge are at risk of closure.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced plans to shut 103 courts across England and Wales. A consultation period ended on 15 September.

A MoJ spokeswoman said a final decision was expected later in the year.

The department says the closures could save the government £15m in running costs and £22m in building maintenance.

Cases would be moved to other courts under the plans.

'Studied in detail'

In his response to the consultation papers, Lord Judge said he had no objection to the closure of Cheltenham county, Cirencester magistrates' and Coleford magistrates' courts in Gloucestershire.

Further detail was required before a decision was taken on Bridgwater Magistrates' Court in Somerset, he added.

A spokeswoman for Her Majesty's Courts Service said: "The consultations are part of the process to review how justice might in the future best be delivered in each area across England and Wales.

"The responses to each document will now be studied in detail, including consideration of alternative proposals from respondents, and the impact of each proposed closure analysed fully.

"Recommendations will then be made to the Lord Chancellor who will decide, in each case, whether or not to close the courts and whether to merge any Local Justice Areas."

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