Law Society slams government plans to close Bicester Magistrates’ Court

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Bicester Magistrates Court.'110210M-B421 ENGPNL00120111002102148

The Law Society has criticised plans to close Bicester Magistrates’ Court.

The organisation, which represents solicitors in the UK, said the closure would lead to nearly three-quarters of users having to travel up to two hours to attend the next nearest courts.

The society has responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation on proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals across England and Wales, including Bicester Magistrates’ and Family Courts and Aylesbury Magistrates’, County and Family Courts.

In its representation, The Law Society said Bicester was an ‘important urban area’ that ‘needs a local court.”

It said: “Court attendees from rural areas already travel considerable distance to reach court in Bicester.

“If the Magistrates’ Court and Family Court is closed, 71 per cent of court users will have to travel from one to two hours by public transport to reach court.

“Bicester is the main family court for Oxfordshire with people attending from all over the county. Those living, for example, in the north of the county already incur significant travelling time and cost in attending which will only be increased by having to extend journeys to Oxford.

“As set out in our main consultation response, longer, more expensive journeys could have a serious impact on the ability and willingness of victims, witnesses, defendants and jurors, particularly those on low incomes, to attend court.”

The society surveyed solicitors to assess the effect of the proposed closures, receiving 823 responses.