Kingston's Magistrates' Courts are under threat – again.
Eight years ago, we fought a hard campaign to stop closure and, against all the odds, we won. But can we save Kingston’s courts this time?
On the positive side, we have the same strong arguments: closing the courts would waste time and money in longer travel – for police, probation officers, social workers and so on.
Kingston is a centre of excellence for the law: because we also have the county court and the crown court - not to mention the strong law faculty at the university – Kingston is the home to many solicitors' practices. Above all, our courts are well-run and efficient. Moreover, reading the consultation paper and speaking to local magistrates, the Ministry of Justice seem to have made serious errors with their figures.
Against us is the huge deficit the coalition has inherited. Unlike eight years ago, it's not just us they're after, but 102 other courts across the country.
Yet I believe the fight is worth having – and that we can win, if we persuade all local interested parties to join the campaign. Last time, it was really only the magistrates, myself and the council. This time, we must involve local solicitors, Victim Support and the wider public.
I'll be talking to Ministerial colleagues of course – but in these tough times, we must above all build a case on the merits and show there’s real support for the Courts.
So, if you want to help, phone my office on 020 8288 0296 or email email@example.com. Thank you.