Plaid Cymru councillors and AMs have spoken of their real concern at plans to close Holyhead’s Magistrates’ Court and Llangefni Civil and Family Court.
Proposals could leave Anglesey without a single court, with victims then having to travel miles to give evidence and see justice served. Cases would be moved to Caernarfon Criminal Justice Centre, which in some cases takes over an hour to reach by public transport.
The Plaid Cymru representatives have said that they are bitterly dsappointed and angered at the proposal to close both Holyhead and Llangefni courts, leaving no courts provision on the Island, adding that they’ll fight for the courts’ future.
Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said. “The Government suggests that people will have more access to courts through digital technology in future, but there will always be a need for many people to physically attend courts, and completely removing provision from such a wide area as Anglesey is in my view totally unacceptable.”
Holyhead County Councillor Trefor Lloyd Hughes, referring to the Holyhead Magistrates Court, said “It does not make sense. Holyhead has the largest number of people in the whole area and that is before considering those who travel through the Port, the second busiest in the UK, and in the near future there may be 6,000 workers in Wylfa Newydd.”
Retired solicitor and Aethwy County Councillor Meirion Jones said “Access to justice should be for all. In my experience it is often the poor and disadvantaged who have to attend courts, both County and Magistrates Courts and these people are not likely to have access to a car and will have to depend on public transport. It’s the most vulnerable people in society who will suffer, those who need legal services who don’t have access to them.
“Centralising the courts system will take away local justice. It is a concern whether local people in North Anglesey will want to act as Magistrates as they will have to travel to Caernarfon before starting their duties of hearing cases.”
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, added: “Vast swathes of the region will now be more than an hour away from a court. That’s why Plaid Cymru has consistently called for the criminal justice system to be devolved so that we can make better decisions here for the people of Wales.”
They are also asking for there to be joined-up thinking with the requirements of the Police and others. ”Police custody aspects need to be considered. The Police are under pressure of time and it must make sense for there to be a Custody Suite on the Island rather than police officers spending time in their vehicles taking arrested persons to Caernarfon on each occasion.”
The Plaid Cymru representatives are preparing their submission to the consultation and wish to encourage the public to respond. The public consultation regarding the future of legal facilities in England and Wales finishes on 8 October.