A Magistrate fears Accrington’s magistrates court could close altogether after it was revealed that most criminal cases are now being dealt with outside the borough.
Coun Munsif Dad described the move as a blow for local justice.
His comments came after it was revealed that most criminal cases are being referred to magistrates courts in Blackburn or Burnley.
Accrington magistrates court has closed its holding cells and now deals only with criminal custody cases via video link.
The court now deals almost exclusively with family and private matters.
Coun Dad, who served as a magistrate in Hyndburn for 12 years, said: “Accrington magistrates court has a long history and has delivered the right balance of justice in the borough over a long time. Over the last 18 months a high percentage of my rota has been in Blackburn. Although they are similar communities my knowledge is of Hyndburn and that will have an effect.
“I am glad to be serving as a magistrate but given my knowledge of the local community I am best serving in Hyndburn. It would be a big loss if it closes down and it looks as if it could be going that way.”
But fellow magistrate Rennie Pinder said: “The changes have had to happen. They have turned Hyndburn into East Lancashire Magistrates Court and that makes a lot of sense because all the magistrates across the area need to share the load.
“I think it will make the courts more efficient.”
The Accrington and Blackburn benches were merged by HM Courts Service at the beginning of January to create East Lancashire magistrates court.
East Lancashire magistrates court manager Graham Ainslie said a CPS lawyer now works at Accrington just two days a week.
He said: “The CPS asked for us to focus CPS work on the primary court sites in the area.
“Almost all of the criminal trials are now being dealt with at Blackburn magistrates.”
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