MP suggests town hall as alternative to closure-threatened King’s Lynn County Court

Henry Bellingham MP
Henry Bellingham MP
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Lynn’s town hall should be considered as an alternative venue if plans to close the town’s county and family courts are implemented, according to the town’s MP.

The King Street facility, which is currently used as a venue for inquests, is one of more than 90 courts across England and Wales that have been earmarked for closures under plans revealed by the Ministry of Justice last week.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said the court is only typically used for a maximum of two days a week.

And he described its location, above a solicitors’ office, as “not ideal.”

But he said he would be seeking a meeting with justice secretary Michael Gove to put forward alternative proposals, such as the town hall, as a way forward.

He maintains that an alternative venue must be found to ensure cases can still be heard locally.

He said: “It’s not realistic to expect people on low incomes to go to Peterborough or Norwich. It’s a tall ask and I don’t think that’s acceptable.

“We have got a growing population. We have got an area which has a lot going for it and what we don’t want is for the public sector to reduce its footprint in this area.”

The current closure plan does not affect the criminal courts complex in College Lane, which could be also seen as a possible alternative venue.

Crown court cases returned to the site earlier this year for the first time in several years.

The government claims its plans could save £500 million by closing courts and tribunals, which it says are currently underused.

Ministers have claimed that a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than 50 per cent of the time last year.

But some lawyers and union officials have warned the plans could make it even harder for the public to access justice.