A RALLYING cry has been made to the people of Chichester to join together and protest the closure of the city’s courts – just like they did to save St Richard’s eight years ago.
Councillors banded together to brand the proposed closure of Chichester’s crown, county, and magistrates’ courts ‘short-sighted’.
At last Wednesday’s Chichester City Council meeting, Chichester’s mayor and deputy major likened the threat to that which hung over the hospital nearly a decade ago.
Cllr Peter Budge, the city’s mayor, told the meeting: “I have been a customer of both courts and they are an integral part of Chichester, without a doubt, and to lose them would be a great loss.
“Going back to when we fought the closure of St Richard’s, which was nearly on the same level as this, we found a champion.
“We found a champion in our MP, we found nearly 20,000 people who marched against it, and I think we need this again to fight this whole subject of closure.”
“We need someone to fight the fight at a very high level.
“I hope we can call on our friend from the Witterings, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, a fine member of the community who can sway opinions.”
Rock star Keith Richards famously led a march of thousands in 2007 and the high-profile protests played a major role in saving St Richard’s.
Cllr Budge and deputy mayor Cllr Trevor Tupper’s calls for similar action to save the courts was roundly welcomed by fellow city councillors, who will send a letter to the Ministry of Justice formally opposing the plans.
Chichester’s are among 91 courts across the country currently being consulted on for closure by the government.
Cllr Nigel Galloway said: “I think it would be a great shame if the county town of West Sussex lost its courts. It is going to increase costs for people involved in criminal and civil cases.”
“I hope that the Ministry of Justice will redeploy the 36 staff who will be affected by this.”
Cllr Anne Scicluna slammed the move as ‘short-sighted’. She said: “I’m very concerned about the family court. When people need to go to the family court for whatever reason, these people do not have the finances to travel to Portsmouth, Brighton, Horsham, wherever it might be.”
Cllr Peter Evans called the reasons given for closing Chichester ‘somewhat dubious’.
He said: “To say that it’s not accessible to disabled people, it is not a big spend to put disabled access in. To refurbish and redecorate, which they say is needed, is not a tremendous amount of money.
Cllr Margaret Evans added: “We are a city and we need our crown court.”
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