Criminal cases could be axed as review is launched into courts

A review has been launched into service at Fleetwood Magistrates' Court. Below: Coun Alan Marsh, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council.
A review has been launched into service at Fleetwood Magistrates' Court. Below: Coun Alan Marsh, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council.
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Criminal cases being heard at a town magistrates’ court could be axed as part of a review into services.

The Gazette understands changes to services at Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court could result in it only dealing with family cases.

Coun Alan Marsh, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council.

Coun Alan Marsh, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council.

Rumours about the court surfaced after Fleetwood police station closed its custody suite five years ago, meaning people arrested overnight have to appear from the cells in other courts, usually 
Blackpool.

Mark Layton, a manager at Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court, confirmed the criminal service could cease at The Esplanade building.

He said: “It’s a potential proposal. It’s an ongoing review to work within the court.”

Fleetwood has had a magistrates court dating back to the time the town was founded and built by the Hesketh-Fleetwood family in 1836.

Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood was the town’s first JP at the court, which is built on a prime Esplanade site overlooking the Wyre Estuary and Morecambe Bay.

In addition to the recent rumours about the criminal cases, there has been persistent speculation about the court’s closure for many years.

The building stands on prime seafront land on The Esplanade, fuelling suggestions the land could be sold off to developers.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service issued a statement about the rumours which said: “HMCTS keeps use of its establishments under review to ensure they meet operational requirements.

“Any new proposals to close courts would be subject to consultation.”

Alan Marsh, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said: “There’s no cells now at the police station, therefore if you want to try criminal offences in Fleetwood you have to ship them up here and then ship them back.

“It makes a little bit of sense and we’ve got to move on.

“Our constabulary is struggling with numbers and to have one or two officers taken out to transport suspects up to Fleetwood means it could be three quarters of an hour bringing them here then either taking them back if they’re sent down, or going back themselves if they’re released.”

Fleetwood historian Dave Pearce said: “If this means fewer Fleetwood residents need to appear before the courts then it’s a good thing, and if it means the court building was no longer needed it would be excellent because it’s on a prime seafront site which could be better used for some kind of amenity for Fleetwood people.”

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