Jesse speaks out about threat to jobs and services at Hereford Magistrates Court, criticises flawed consultation

Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman has written to the Minister for the Courts urging him to intervene to save jobs and services at Hereford Magistrates Court.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) are planning to move administrative jobs from Hereford Magistrates Court to Worcester. Around ten members of staff are affected.

Jesse first wrote to HMCTS in December 2013, urging them to consider the effect such a move would have on the service provided to visitors to Hereford Magistrates Court, and to object to the loss of local jobs. He encouraged HMCTS management to consider an alternative proposal put forward by the staff, under which administrative staff from Hereford Magistrates Court would work more closely with staff at Hereford County Court.

Last week, HMCTS issued a response to their consultation stating that they were planning to push ahead with their preferred option of relocating jobs to Worcester. In particular, HMCTS stated that they had not taken ‘external’ responses into consideration – this included Jesse’s letter as well as submissions from local solicitors and from the Herefordshire, Breconshire and Radnorshire Law Society.

Jesse has now written to the Minister for the Courts to share his deep concerns about the proposals, as well as the lack of consultation. He has asked the Minister to order that all reorganisation is put on hold until there has been a proper opportunity to consider the proposals put forward by staff – and that the so called ‘external’ responses be taken into account.

Jesse said: “Most of the administrative staff at Hereford Magistrates Court are women. They do not receive large salaries, and many have family commitments in Hereford. It is wholly impractical to expect them to be able to commute to Worcester every day.

“Furthermore, local people rely on the service they provide in Hereford – a service that simply cannot be delivered from Worcester. And yet HMCTS do not seem to have done an analysis of whether their proposal would even save any money.”

Commenting on the way that HMCTS have handled his response to date, Jesse said: “It is frankly astonishing that an unelected public body can entirely disregard--and disregard as a matter of policy--the submissions of a local MP when they are making decisions that will affect jobs and how public money is spent in their constituency.”

A copy of Jesse’s letter to the Minister is available here.