Wheels of justice roll out of Sutton for final time
1:20pm Tuesday 7th June 2011 in News
The wheels of justice rolled out of Sutton on Friday as the borough’s 48-year-old magistrates’ court closed its doors for the last time.
Last July, the Government decided to begin the process of shutting down more than 100 magistrates courts as part of the most radical cost-cutting shake-up to public services since World War 2.
Sutton’s cases will now be heard at Croydon Magistrates’ Court and the majority of court staff will make the move too.
Some staff however, including guards, were not as fortunate and have taken redundancy in the last few weeks.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “The country’s court estate has simply not kept pace with the changing nature of our society or with the demands modern society places on our justice system.
“An estate of over 500 court buildings is not now necessary or sustainable, nor is it a reasonable expense for the taxpayer.”
The decision to close the court came as a shock to those worked there because officially figures listed it as the tenth cheapest in the capital with annual running costs of just £348,000 per year.
This compares to West London, Brent, Thames and Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Courts which all cost more than £1m to run each year.
But ultimately the future of the borough’s criminal court’s future was sealed because of its proximity to Croydon’s court - just four miles.
Tearful staff packed the public gallery for the last couple of hearings as the final minutes ticked away on Friday.
The final defendant to sit in the dock was Mark Jones, from Epsom, who looked completely puzzled by the hordes of guards, ushers and office staff packing out the court.
Jones, who was caught with cannabis at Sutton train station, was fined £141 and admitted he was “slightly confused” by the attention his minor drugs charge garnered.
Sutton magistrate Howard Cohen then closed proceedings at the courthouse, in Shotfield, Wallington, for the final time.
He said: “All matters listed before Sutton Magistrates’ Court are now concluded. This court is now closed.”