Magistrates court is costing us £28,000 each month - and its almost empty

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Taxpayers are footing a bill of £28,500 per month for Bedford Magistrates’ Court which is sat virtually empty.

The court ceased to hear all cases except those concerning family matters from June 1 this year.

The local Judicial Business Group (JBG) decided it would be more effective to hear other cases in Luton Magistrates’ Court.

Figures provided by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) for the last year, show that Shire Hall in Bedford is costing taxpayers, on average, £28,500 per month.

Only a handful of staff are reportedly using the building.

Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, said: “At a time when everyone is having to manage their budgets, the last thing they want to see is it costing almost £1,000 per day to keep a court open and not be using it as fully as it can be.

“It is bad enough that local justice has been taken away from Bedford, it is even worse to pay £1k a day for the privilege.”

HMCTs has insisted the court is “not closed”.

A spokesperson said: “The changes to Bedford Magistrates’ Court listings came in at the start of June.

“The Minister confirmed that a review of the arrangements would take place at the end of the year and there would be an opportunity for court users to contribute their feedback.

“The terms of and arrangements for the review are to be agreed by the Judicial Business Group which is due to meet in November. They will make the final decision on listings following the review.”

The spokesman could not comment on how much had been spent on the court since the change in June.