Colchester County Court to close in Tory "attack on access to justice"

February 11, 2016 4:45 PM
Scales of Justice

Fair access to justice for North East Essex residents?

The Conservative government has today confirmed that it plans to close Colchester County Court and Family Court with effect from early 2017. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has called the programme of court closures "an attack on access to justice."

According to the Law Society, "Colchester Courts are used by court users in surrounding rural areas, such as Tendring. Those court users would face substantially longer and more expensive journeys if the court closes; 86 per cent of users would have to travel for one to two hours by public transport to reach the alternative court", which could "have a serious impact on the ability and willingness of victims, witnesses, defendants and jurors, particularly those on low incomes, to attend court."

Residents from across North East Essex will now face the added expense and inconvenience of having to travel to the County Court in Chelmsford. Indeed, typical driving times from much of the area will be over an hour, and as much as two hours by public transport. For example, a resident in Brightlingsea would now face an average drive of around an hour, or a journey by public transport of around an hour and a half. This is approximately twice the amount of time it currently takes to get to Colchester County Court.* The financial consequences of this decision will be felt particularly badly by residents of Tendring, which is the most deprived district in the county and contains the single most deprived area in the country.

*Figures from Google Maps.