Rosie Cooper MP

Working hard for the people of West Lancashire

05/12/06 Rosie Cooper announces "Magistrates merger beaten"

Rosie Cooper MP is delighted to announce the proposed merger of local magistrates courts will not go ahead. This decision ends a year long fight to secure the future of Ormskirk Magistrates Court and the best service for delivering justice locally.

Rosie along with fellow Labour MPs David Borrow and Lindsay Hoyle met with Constitutional Affairs Minister, Harriet Harman, to oppose the proposed amalgamation of the West Lancashire, South Ribble and Chorley local justice areas. There will be a need for greater joint working between the magistrates’ courts but there will not be an amalgamation as proposed in a recent HM Court Service consultation document.

There has been a great deal of local opposition across the three areas to the proposed amalgamation.

Rosie said:

“I am delighted the Lord Chancellor and the Minister of State have decided that there will be no merger of the three magistrates’ courts. I thank them for making the right decision for this community in spite of strong civil service opinion in favour of a merger. I and my fellow MPs argued strongly that this would not be in the best interests of delivering justice in our areas and they listened.”

“I have been working hard for the past year with local magistrates lobbying Ministers against any backdoor closure of Ormskirk Magistrates or an amalgamation that was not in the best interests of West Lancashire.”

“Amalgamating magistrates’ courts may be appropriate in some areas but certainly not in areas like West Lancashire. Trying to bring together the three separate areas was not a workable option and we made this clear to ministers. The lack of public transport, for example, would have almost certainly increased the number of defendants failing to appear in court. This amalgamation would have undermined the hard work and efforts of local magistrates and court staff. Magistrates would have found it more difficult to get time off to attend court and travelling times for everyone would have increased.”

“I know there has been a lot of uncertainty amongst those who work in magistrates’ court but I hope this announcement removes any doubt over the role and future of Ormskirk Magistrates Court.” 

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