Flintshire court closure plan could delay inquests

Reporter:

Matt Jones

INQUESTS could be delayed if plans to shut a town’s court building are given the green light.

Flint Magistrates’ Court, which has links stretching back more than 700 years, is facing closure as part of a government cost-cutting shake-up of the justice system.

Community leaders in the town have already joined forces to try and stop the closure but fears have now been raised that the closure could increase the time it takes for inquests to be carried out in the county.

John Gittins, deputy coroner for North East Wales said Flint Magistrates’ Court was the most readily available in the area.

He said: “The court availability in Mold and Wrexham can be difficult and the court with the most availability is Flint. If it did close we would get on and deal with it, but
it would make life more difficult.

“Members of the public are going to find the process of holding an inquest could potentially take longer. Inquests have been held in the town for a long, long time.”

The court house is one of 103 magistrates’ courts and 54 county courts across England and Wales facing closure with courts’ Minister Jonathan Djanogly saying the move will save about £15.3 million per year.

Flint has had some form of court stretching back more than 700 years with the administration of justice originating in the area at the town’s castle.

Town councillor John Hughes said Flint was the ideal location for a court due to its transport links and town centre location.

He said: “It is important. The court has a diverse range of uses and is used by a diverse range of people. It is also used for employment tribunals. It is an ideal court for those functions.”

Earlier this month Flint Town Council voted unanimously to write to Flintshire Council’s chief executive and the Lord Chancellor expressing “shock and disappointment” at the proposed closure.

A public consultation will run until September 15.

See full story in the Leader

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