West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson has criticised the government’s plan to close Sandwell Magistrates’ Court and leave it as the only Black Country local authority area without a court.
The government recently announced it would consult on plans to close 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. Under the proposals, Sandwell Magistrates’ Court would close, with its workload transferring to Walsall Magistrates’ Court.
More than 21 jobs would also be affected by the closure.
Tom Watson MP said: “These plans are completely illogical. We’ve gone full circle from a new court being proposed on Spon Lane in West Bromwich - which the government axed in the last Parliament - to a proposal to close the only court in Sandwell.
“The Government state that Sandwell Magistrates’ Court is underutilised, yet at the same time work is being transferred to other courts. More cases could be referred to Sandwell but the government seem intent on implementing a policy to ensure its decline.”
Mr Watson also hit out at the government’s lack of joined-up thinking with the Home Office and West Midlands Police over the proposed closure. He added: “A new custody suite has been opened by West Midlands Police less than a mile away from the court to house detainees and now the government wants to close the nearby court. You really couldn’t make this up.”
The government’s consultation will run until the 8 October and a final decision on the future of the court is expected soon thereafter.