Barking Court to close in �58million cost-cutting drive

THE Government confirmed today Barking Magistrates’ Court would close in a move widely seen as eroding local justice.

The Grade II-listed Victorian building is to shut its doors under a �58million efficiency programme that will see 142 courts close in England and Wales.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge said the plan, which would force defendants to go to Ilford or Romford, was “ludicrous” and warned that defendants “just won’t turn up”.

Former magistrate chairman Derek Johnson also attacked the plans, saying the courthouse in East Street was one of the busiest in London.

The Government maintained it was “under pressure” to cut costs when it unveiled the proposed closures in June but stressed the justice system was shifting towards community penalties and is confident it can deliver hi-tech justice through the web, telephone and video links.

Ministers said magistrates could be deployed to more than one court, indicating the 90 or so Barking JPs may carry on with their duties.