CLOSURE OF SANDWELL MAGISTRATES’ COURT HAS 'CAUSED CHAOS', SAYS MP

The closure of the court in September has created misery for local people seeking justice, says West Bromwich MP Tom Watson.

Sandwell is now the only Black Country borough without a magistrates court after the Government closed the Oldbury facility back in September.

Many of Sandwell’s judicial cases have been transferred to other regional courts, including Wolverhampton, which has come in for heavy criticism from the West Bromwich MP.

Mr Watson said: “The Government’s decision to close Sandwell has caused chaos. Many cases have been transferred to Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court and the facilities there cannot cope with the increased demand - there’s a real crisis.

“There’s been a general over listing of Sandwell cases and lengthy waits for hearings, with cases adjourned due to a lack of court time. On at least two occasions, when a case has been listed for 10am, it’s not been dealt with until after 4pm, meaning that the police and the public have waited around all day.”

Mr Watson has written to the Justice Secretary Liz Truss to demand that the Ministry of Justice urgently reviews the provision of court facilities in Sandwell.

Mr Watson added: “There are also many problems with cases from Sandwell being moved to the afternoon from the morning because the Wolverhampton court has not had time to deal with them. I’m even aware of examples whereby the court has failed to notify defendants of adjourned hearings leading to a further adjournment being required.

“The Government cannot say they weren’t warned about this. They wasted £3.8 million on a new proposed court, which was then scrapped in West Bromwich, and then shamefully closed the only court we had left in Oldbury. The closure of Sandwell was wrong and poorly thought out from the start.”

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