Stoke & Staffordshire

Newcastle-under-Lyme magistrates to undergo expansion

A North Staffordshire magistrates court is set to temporarily close next month while its facilities are expanded.

Services at Newcastle-under-Lyme will transfer to Fenton while the work is carried out before the latter building is eventually closed.

It is part of government plans to axe 93 magistrates and 49 county courts across England and Wales.

Work at Newcastle's courthouse is expected to take until autumn 2012.

North Staffordshire Bench chairman John Horton said he believed most people would notice little difference because "people move between the two court houses on a regular basis".

'No-one's exempt'

He said: "People have the misconception if you live in Fenton you'll go to a Fenton court and if you live in Newcastle you'll go to a Newcastle court.

"But, since 2004, people go to the court that deals with the nature of business that they have with that particular court."

David Goodman, from HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in Staffordshire, said economic factors were partly driving the issue.

He said the standard of facilities at Fenton were also not good enough.

He added: "North Staffordshire has been amalgamated as a bench and as a court for several years and we now operate on two sites so we'll be far more efficient for everyone if we can operate off one site in Newcastle.

"There are national changes taking place. No-one's exempt".

Mr Goodman said that HMCTS was having to cut back and that jobs would go but that no redundancies would be as a result of the closure of Fenton courthouse.

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