Set against plans for Sunday court

Michael Woosnam
Michael Woosnam
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LEGAL professionals in Blackpool say they are “dead against” government proposals to open courts on Sundays.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke earlier this week asked court officials to become more “flexible” in their opening hours.

The plans have arisen after Sunday openings were used in the aftermath of last year’s riots.

Michael Woosnam is the partner in charge of the crime department at Blackpool-based solicitors Blackhurst Budd. He said: “From a professional point of view there is considerable concern about that.

“Effectively you’re talking about there having to be coverage 365 days a year and there doesn’t seem to be the demand for that.

“There are administrative concerns both from the defence lawyers’ perspective and the availability of the crown prosecution service.”

Mr Woosnam says although Blackpool Magistrates’ court is the busiest in Lancashire, it still would not be worthwhile opening on Sundays.

He said: “On Bank Holiday Monday there were 60 in court and two others there to be bound over because of their behaviour at the weekend.

“That’s an unusual level for the Bank Holiday weekend, but one wonders if you would have geared up court on a Sunday for the sake of three or four cases from the night before.

“I would guess it would be disproportionately expensive.”

Brett Chappelle, director at Easthams Solicitors, is in agreement.

He said: “My thoughts on this are quite simple, I’m dead against it.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that they drag in solicitors on a Sunday when weekend incidents have been dealt with for years without a problem. I can’t think for the life of me why they would try to do that.”

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