Thursday, May 25, 2006


Labour slams court closure plan

Proposals being put forward to close the Magistrates’ Court in Port Talbot have been slammed by Aberavon MP, Dr Hywel Francis, who believes that the changes will hit the victims of crime hardest.

Plans thought to be under consideration by Her Majesty’s Court Service, as part of its South Wales Estates Review, include the closure of Port Talbot Magistrates’ Court and the possible relocation of the Central Finance Unit involving the loss of up to eighty jobs in the town.

Dr Francis MP said,

“The Criminal Justice System has a special responsibility towards local communities and the victims and witnesses of crime. If justice is to work well then it needs the public to understand it and feel comfortable with it.”

“It is essential that it is based with the community that it seeks to serve. Local justice needs to take place in a local setting.”

“The proposal to close the Port Talbot Court does not make any sense. It is ideally located, with excellent transport links and is a short walk away from the central police station. The victims of crime in the town need faster and more accountable justice. These plans will mean that they will have to travel further to see that justice is done.”

“The mooted relocation of the Finance Unit would also be a huge blow to Port Talbot. It provides many local people with high quality jobs which would be sorely missed if the plans were given the go-ahead.”

“The Labour Party in Aberavon is completely opposed to these proposals. It will be the victims of crime who will be most affected by these changes, and we will continue to campaign to stand up for their rights. The review completely fails to take into account the impact that closing the Magistrates’ Court would have on victims, witnesses and the police.”

“I will personally be making representations to the Minister for Constitutional Affairs and those within the Courts Service to do as much as I can to get the proposals reversed.”

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