Fresh fight to save Dewsbury’s courts

SPECIALIST: Batley and Dewsbury Magistrates Court.
SPECIALIST: Batley and Dewsbury Magistrates Court.
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THE gloves are off in the battle to save Dewsbury’s courts.

That’s the tough message from magistrate Wayne Perriman in the wake of the recent decision to close both the town’s court buildings.

JPs are teaming up with union members to challenge the government ruling which would see all court business transfer to Huddersfield.

And they want Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell to try to get Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke to come to ‘dying town’ Dewsbury to see the situation for himself.

“We want to rouse everyone into action,” said Mr Perriman, until recently chairman of Dewsbury and Batley Magistrates Bench. JPs have formed an action group to challenge the government ruling and were last night having their first meeting to thrash out campaign details. There is a feeling that this was a done deal, so live with it,” said Mr Perriman. “But we want to put up a fight.”

He said magistrates and court staff feel not enough consideration was given to local responses on plans to close Dewsbury’s county and magistrates’ courts.

“We want Simon Reevell to fight our corner in the House,” said Mr Perriman. “To challenge Ken Clarke and get him to revisit this.”

He said an existing scheme to combine the county and magistrates’ courts had not been properly considered.

“Dewsbury is a dying town and Kirklees does not mean Huddersfield,” said Mr Perriman. “People in North Kirklees have a right to these facilities.”

Mr Reevell said he would do all he could to help.

“The wrong decision was made here,” he said. “And it is right people should fight that.”

Nearly 30 people work at the magistrates’ court, many being members of the Public and Commercial Services Union. Branch secretary Steve Wilton said: “Plans to relocate the county court were already advanced when this started so there is a strong case to answer on retaining the magistrates’ court with the county.”

“If Dewsbury court was a rundown Victorian pile and there was a chance to move to a new and better place in Huddersfield we would be in a weak position. But it’s the other way round. We feel the case to keep Dewsbury open has not been adequately addressed.”

lWhat do you think? Will you be joining the new battle or is it to late? Write to us or email dewsburyeditorial@ywng.co.uk.