Thanking the 90 people who went to considerable trouble to respond to the consultation on closure of Banbury Magistrates Court, the Ministry of Justice ignored the many appeals not to move cases to Oxford.
It did so on the basis that ‘...sufficient capacity will remain in the Thames Valley court estate to respond to future changes in workload’.
This blithe disregard for the ramifications of losing our town’s courts goes to the heart of public frustration with relentless centralisation and disposal of public assets that allow access to the essential services taxpayers need locally - and for which they pay.
Not only will defendants and witnesses have to bear the cost in travel and lost work time to get themselves to Oxford but so will magistrates and Banbury’s solicitors.
There is worrying evidence this year, as magistrates’ courts are closed nationwide, of accelerating resignations by magistrates – the very ones who ensure ‘justice of the people, by the people for the people’.
As volunteers, they handle 90 per cent of court cases but cost only one per cent of the budget.
Apart from the lamentable loss of local perspective that local magistrates bring to local justice cases, this and other closures will end up costing far more than will be saved.
When common sense finally prevails and there is an admission public services should be local, the country will face unimaginable costs to reinstate accessible facilities, being disposed of now for political gain.