A campaign is underway to keep Eastbourne Law Courts open after it was shortlisted for closure as part of government cuts.
The Old Orchard Road building, which houses the magistrates’ court, county court and family court, is one of almost 100 earmarked for closure.
The government is currently consulting on the proposal and says the court is under used as last year over a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than 50 per cent of their available hearing time.
But Conservative MP for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell said this week she was against the proposal as is Eastbourne Law Society.
Mrs Ansell said, “Following the announcement last week of a proposal to close the Eastbourne Law Court, I had an urgent meeting on my return to Parliament on Monday with Justice Minster and Under Secretary of State, Shailesh Vara MP who has responsibility for courts and legal aid.
“I challenged aspects of the initial Eastbourne briefing paper – specifically around our poor transport links and stated journey times and also the impact on access to legal aid.
“Under utilisation is clearly an issue; why are so very many cases diverted to Hastings and Brighton? The building is not, I understand, compliant with the Equality Act.
“What sort of investment would make it so and would costs be prohibitive? It’s prime town centre location perhaps offers up a new development opportunity to benefit local people and the town without losing ‘local justice’.
“We discussed the potential for re-establishing the court in alternative civic buildings – the Town Hall perhaps or Grove Road where we already have council and police shared space in operation.
“I secured agreement from the minister that innovative local propositions would be considered in the consultation.”
Mrs Ansell was meeting with local solicitors this week.
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