Refusal to re-open Hartlepool Magistrates highlights Tory con on “Levelling Up” – and will do nothing to sort the court backlog, says Alex

The Conservative Government’s refusal to re-open Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court has been blasted by Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, as a failure of Boris Johnson’s election promises to “level up the North”.

In a Written Parliamentary Question to junior Justice Minister, Chris Philp MP on 19 July, Alex asked “whether he plans to re-open Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court”. The answer from the Minister was a firm “no” – with the Minister going further to say that his Government was working with the Conservative-Independent run Hartlepool Council to find “alternative use for the former court property”.

Alex, who is also Shadow Minister for Courts and Sentencing, called the decision irresponsible in light of the backlog of magistrate court cases – now at 400,000 – across England and Wales. Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court was closed by the Conservative Government in 2017.

Alex said:

“During the Hartlepool by-election Boris Johnson came to the town and promised to ‘level up the North’. Now there’s a chance to do so and restore services to the town, his Government refuses to do so. It makes you wonder what they’ll renege on next.

“Not only is their failure to re-open the Magistrates’ Court a failure of their “levelling up” agenda, but it’s deeply irresponsible in light of the backlog of court cases. The Government should be doing all it can to reduce it – including re-opening the Hartlepool Magistrates’ Courts – to ease the pressure elsewhere and support victims of crime in their pursuit of justice.”