Somerset

Sedgemoor magistrate's plea to keep Bridgwater court

A Somerset magistrate has written to the Justice Secretary to urge him to keep Sedgemoor Magistrates' Court open.

The court, in Bridgwater, is one of 103 in England and Wales that could close as part of plans currently under consultation.

Bench chairman Frank Clegg said the town was "an important logistical hub for mid-Somerset".

The government said the plans, for "underused and inadequate" courts, were aimed at saving money.

It is also consulting on axing 54 county courts.

Proposals to relocate 341 police jobs from Taunton Police Station to Bridgwater were approved in June.

Mr Clegg said: "They are going to build a police station with a custody suite of about 30 cells which will take the cells away from Taunton and Weston-super-Mare."

'Not turn up'

He said the population in the town was set to increase and a possible move to Taunton would lead to increased travel costs for staff, witnesses and defendants.

He said some defendants may not turn up if they had to travel to Taunton.

The Ministry of Justice spokesman said in a statement: "The Lord Chancellor is keen to hear the views of everyone with an interest in local justice arrangements.

"We will take all views into account before making any decision on which courts ought to be closed and when."

Mr Clegg said a steering committee had been formed to fight the possible closure.

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