Bracknell town centre is currently undergoing redevelopment which is in direct contrast to the decision by Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to consider closing Bracknell Magistrates Court. Whilst it has been effectively mothballed for the past couple of years this decision is another nail in the coffin of local justice.
In these times of austerity it is galling that the taxpayer is funding this building whilst it lies empty and unused. Closing the Court would apparently lead to savings of £40,000 per year. Hearings that would have been heard by Bracknell Magistrates dealing with Bracknell people are now listed in Reading, Slough and Maidenhead. The extra workload for these Courts is often resulting in lengthy lists and increased waiting time for both witnesses and defendants not to mention increasing inefficiency for lawyers in attendance. Do these inefficiencies amount to more than £40,000 per year?
HMCTS value the Court at £350,000 and states the closure would enable the site to be considered as part of the future regeneration of the town, Does this mean the attached Police Station is also at risk of moving out of Bracknell?
It will be interesting once the redevelopment is complete to see whether the government policy in centralising justice better serves the people of Bracknell and in due course the Thames Valley as a whole.