MP stresses importance of Buxton court during debate in Parliament

High Peak Magistrates' Court.
High Peak Magistrates' Court.

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham has stressed the importance of Buxton’s court – and said it should not close – during a debate in Parliament.

The Government is considering shutting High Peak Magistrates’ Court, on Terrace Road, as part of controversial cost-cutting measures.

If approved, the plans will see hearings move to Chesterfield and those needing to attend court facing a journey of almost an hour by car and two hours or more by public transport.

Mr Bingham – who has already criticised the proposals in the House of Commons – held a debate last week.

He said: “Chesterfield might look nice and convenient on a map or in a road atlas, but it certainly is not.

“For most people in High Peak, public transport routes to Chesterfield are limited to say the least.

“I went on the Traveline website and found out that to be in Chesterfield for a 9am appointment using public transport, someone travelling from Glossop would have to get a bus at 6.30am, with two train journeys on top of that.

“I am using Glossop as an example because it is the biggest and most populous town in High Peak and because, anecdotally, about two thirds of the court’s work comes from that area.

“However, there are many other towns and villages in High Peak, including New Mills, Whaley Bridge, Chapel-en-le-Frith and, indeed, Buxton itself. Getting to Chesterfield from any of those places borders on the impractical.

“I believe that the court should stay in Buxton.”

Mr Bingham also highlighted a number of “glaring errors” in consultation documents about the proposed closure of the court.

He said the documents claimed the building was not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and cited the lack of a lift.

But Mr Bingham said: “We have dealt with that issue. The building is fully compliant with disability legislation.”

Responding to Mr Bingham in Parliament, Shailesh Vara, the parliamentary dnder-secretary of state for justice, said: “We envisage a modern 21st Century court structure in which people do not travel as much as they do now. People expect to be able to transact their business online, quickly and efficiently, at a time that suits them, and modern technology allows them to do so. It is such technology that gives us an opportunity to invest in our courts and modernise them to meet the present and future requirements of court users and improve the delivery of justice.”

The Government says no final decisions have yet been made.