Final date for court

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THE final date for court business in Dewsbury will be March 30.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed this week that the court, along with Dewsbury County Court, will hear its last cases at the end of the financial year.

The proposal to close the courts, one of 103 targeted across the country, sparked a tide of protest.

However, despite a Reporter campaign and intense lobbying by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell and his Batley and Spen colleague Mike Wood, the court’s business is being transferred to Huddersfield.

Mr Reevell gathered a petition of almost 500 people against the closure plans and met justice secretary Kenneth Clarke to argue in favour of keeping the courts open.

He said: “The policy of closing the courts is as wrong now as it was when it was first announced. It’s a real shame that the arguments in favour of keeping them open have not carried the day.

“I fully understand the financial situation the government is in and the consequent need to make savings but this, surely, is the wrong way to go about it.”

The MP held out little hope that the decision could be reversed at the last moment.

The decision has also dismayed Kirklees probation chief Kathy Loney who said: “This is a sad day for Dewsbury.”

She fears the extra workload imposed on the Huddersfield court could lead to difficulties in getting offenders to comply with supervision orders and questioned whether probation staff would have access to sufficient rooms and facilities to deal properly with their clients.

A document issued by the Ministry of Justice claims closure of the Dewsbury courts will save on operating costs – which were £507,000 in 2009/10 – and avoid expenditure of £700,000 catching up with a maintenance backlog on the building, which was purpose-built in 1984.

Closure of the Magistrates and County courts will result in the loss of 48 full-time staff from Dewsbury, and traders fearing the consequent loss of business will be a further blow to a part of the town centre already blighted by many empty shops.

Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan said: “Local trade will certainly be affected.”

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