Fight still on to preserve local justice in Banbury

Banbury Magistrates Court House ENGNNL00120120927152803
Banbury Magistrates Court House ENGNNL00120120927152803

In July of last year, the government announced it was to shut and sell off Banbury Magistrates’ and County Courts as part of a cost cutting exercise, prompting all three local councils to launch a campaign to stop it.

Banbury Town Council, Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council came together in opposition of the plans which they say would be unfair to people on limited incomes who would have to travel to Oxford to see justice done.

Concerns was also raised as to whether the Oxford justice system could cope with the additional caseload.

Barry Wood, leader of the district council, said at the time: “Whilst the council supports many efforts to save the taxpayer money, making victims, witnesses and others affected by crime travel to Oxford to see justice done needs some innovative thinking.”

In November, all three councils proposed a motion to write to the Ministry of Justice offering the opportunity of exploring alternate provision when the Warwick Road court closes in March this year.

Minister for courts and tribunals Lucy Frazer said in response: “Thank you for your offer to work with us to explore what potential opportunities there might be for supplementary provision in Banbury once the court has closed.

“I have asked officials at HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to engage fully with you and the councils about this.

“I take the concerns you have raised about the accessibility of our courts very seriously and I am grateful that you have raised these with me.

“HMCTS will continue to engage with you about the future provision of justice for Banbury residents.”

Cllr Kieron Mallon, who proposed the motion, said: “We will now speak to the ministry and their officers based in the Thames Valley to try to progress this.

“Two potential venues spring to mind, the first is Bodicote House which currently holds hearings mainly concerning planning and has all the electronic equipment and adjacent smaller rooms that a case to be heard would need.

“Also Banbury Town Hall which is central and has been used as a magistrates court fairly recently when works were undertaken at the current courthouse.”