Fears for future of Grantham court with changes due in April

Grantham Magistrates Court ENGEMN00120130719141304
Grantham Magistrates Court ENGEMN00120130719141304

A solicitor says changes to court listings at Grantham Magistrates Court will only increase fears for the future of the local service.

Chris Pye-Smith, of Bird and Co in Grantham, says he is dreading the new arrangements which will take place in April.

The changes will mean that the CJSSS (simple, speed summary courts) will be held once a fortnight instead of every week. These courts were introduced to simplify and speed up court cases.

It also means all overnight remand prisoners will be produced at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court only. Currently they are produced at Grantham every Monday and alternate Thursday. The changes also mean that police-led prosecution cases, which include motoring offences, will be held on two days per week instead of one.

Mr Pye-Smith said: “I find it difficult to see how justice of any quality can be dispensed on days when two weeks’ worth of new cases are listed on one day. The pressure on all parties will be immense. I note that the amount of time to be dedicated to motoring cases is to double. Could it be that these cases generate significant revenue? I don’t know.

“Transporting all prisoners to Lincoln Magistrates’ Court even when Grantham Court is sitting seems bizarre on the face of it but no doubt produces cost savings in certain budgets. It may however increase costs in other budgets and is very inconvenient for defendants and locally-based lawyers who represent those defendants.

“Over the last decade or so we have seen the closure of the Magistrates’ Courts at Sleaford, Bourne, Stamford and Spalding. There is a general feeling amongst lawyers who practise in the Magistrates’ Courts in this county that the new arrangements are designed to be a tool to manipulate the closure of Grantham in due course. I hope not. “There is, however, clearly a drive for centralisation to Lincoln because it is argued to be cheaper. Those who hold the purse strings currently have little regard for what was a once the hallowed concept of local justice.”