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Dover Magistrates’ Court in Pencester Road to close

By Eleanor Perkins

Dover Magistrates’ Court in Pencester Road will close in a matter of weeks.

A document shared by the Ministry of Justice shows plans to close the court between April and June.

With a yearly cost of £347,000 and only 15% usage, it comes as part of the department’s ongoing programme to close courts to reduce maintenance and running costs.

The court will close in the coming months

Dover was named as one of three courts in Kent, along with Dartford Magistrates’ Court and Tunbridge Wells County and Family Court, at risk of closure, in 2015.

A 12-week public consultation was held up until October of the same year before a final decision was made.

The Ministry of Justice say the closure is justified because 100% of people will be able to reach another court by car in under one hour, although only 32% of people will be able to reach court by public transport in under one hour.

The Ministry of Justice say Dover Magistrates Court had only a 15% utilisation rate in 2014/2015.

Dover Magistrates’ Court deals with low-level crimes and used to be where all criminal proceedings in the Dover area started.

In February 2014, the court was used for a 10-day trial of the export company Channel Livestock and its owner Tom Lomas. The company and its boss were fined thousands of pounds after dozens of sheep had to be slaughtered after being found severely lame during exportation.

Since then, activity there has steadily decreased with the Ministry of Justice recording only a 15% utilisation rate in 2014/2015.

Many hearings including inquests have been transferred to Folkestone Magistrates Court.

Dartford Magistrates’ Court and Tunbridge Wells County and Family Court both closed in 2016.

Since then, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and HM Courts and Tribunals Service have teamed up to provide a court service from their town hall.

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