County court under threat

A county court is under threat after it was named on a government hit list.

Hitchin County Court has been named in a list of 54 county courts and 103 magistrates’ courts threatened with closure as ministers target public services to reduce the budget deficit.

If implemented the total cuts would save �15.3m per year in running costs and �21.5m in maintenance costs.

Courts minister Jonathan Djanogly said the current system of 530 courts in England and Wales was outdated and in need of reform.

“When public finances are under pressure, it is vital to eliminate waste and reduce costs,” he said. “The arrangements we have are historical and now need to be re-assessed to ask whether they properly meet the needs of communities as they are today.

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“We now have the opportunity to think afresh about how we can create a more modern fit-for-purpose justice system in line with the way we live our lives today.”

There has been a county court in the town since the 19th century dealing with civil disputes, but ministers say it is now underused. If it is closed its case work would move to Luton. Eight staff are currently based at the site on Old Park Road.

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A public consultation on the proposals was opened last week and runs until September 15.

A questionnaire is available on the Ministry of Justice website

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