Oxford

Three Oxfordshire courts to close amid budget cuts

Three magistrates' courts in Oxfordshire are to shut under government budget cuts.

The courts in Didcot, Bicester and Prime Minister David Cameron's Witney constituency will all be closed.

The government has revealed that 93 magistrates' and 49 county courts are to be shut in England and Wales.

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly told MPs that the current system was "unsustainable", but Labour accused the coalition of "crude cost-cutting".

West Oxfordshire District council said it has registered its opposition to any closure of the Witney court.

Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire councils also said they "deplored" the closures and will try to fight the decision.

In a statement to the Commons, Mr Djanogly said changes to the court system would mean a "better, more efficient and more modern" system of justice, with premises modernised.

He added: "It's unacceptable that dozens of buildings never intended to be, and not fit to be, modern court buildings are still in use."

But, for Labour, shadow justice minister Andrew Slaughter said: "Courts are not like Facebook or Tesco. They are an important part of many communities, in the same way that people regard police stations or town halls."

It is estimated that the closure programme will save the government at least £15m a year in running costs, plus an extra £22m in maintaining the buildings.

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