Labour can reveal that Stockport Magistrates and County Court has been saved from closure following a dramatic u-turn from the Government in the face of pressure from legal professionals, members of the public and local Labour politicians.
A Stockport Labour Group petition last autumn attracted 2,000 local signatures against the proposals restricting access to justice, whilst Stockport MPs Andrew Gwynne and Ann Coffey lobbied the Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid and raised the issue in Parliament.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“I first raised this with the Justice Minister in the Commons last year. I am delighted that he listened to the voices of everybody who fought these ill-thought through plans.
“This is a victory for the campaigners and local legal professionals, and I am delighted that one of Greater Manchester’s busiest Court buildings will now stay open for business.”
Labour Group Spokesperson Councillor Kate Butler said:
“The response from the public to Stockport Labour Group’s campaign to save our Court was incredible, and demonstrated the strength of feeling which there is about maintaining local access to justice.
“Whilst I’m pleased that the Ministry of Justice has ultimately listened, Stockport Court should never have been on a closure list in the first place. Labour always said strong lobbying and public pressure would make a difference and that has proven to be right.”
Alongside the submission of the petition to the MoJ, Stockport Labour Group also submitted a comprehensive response to the consultation on why it is vital for victims, witnesses, and the wider public to protect local services to avoid excessively difficult journeys to hearings.
Stockport’s high quality, multi-purpose Courthouse was opened in 1989 and underwent major refurbishment work as recently as 2010. It boasts 11 modern Courtrooms and 18 cells as well as rooms for advocates, probation staff and witness support officers.