A three-month public consultation was held last year into the future of the two Halifax courthouses.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service said last year that Halifax (Calderdale) Magistrates’ and Family Court in Harrison Road and Halifax County Court and Family Centre in Prescott Street – both grade II listed buildings – were outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
Now, it has been announced, the courts are to close and cases transferred to Bradford Combined Court Centre or Bradford County Court.
In all the Government proposed to close 91 courts and has decided that 86 will go. Wakefield Magistrates’ Court will also close with cases moved to Leeds.
Public consultation ended in October and a report by HM Courts and Tribunals Service said all views had been considered.
There were concerns over access to local justice and the cost and journey time of a nine-mile trip to Bradford.
A magistrate wrote: “There is a significant difference between cost cutting and fair and equitable justice. For example someone on a low/no wage would struggle financially in getting from the far side of Halifax to Bradford, would face the prospect of no legal aid and would be faced with disastrous court fees if found guilty.”
A professional court user said that no consideration had been given to the economic impact on Halifax.
They wrote: “The closure proposals ignore the impact on the local economy of moving all criminal and civil work to Bradford.
“At least eight criminal law firms and a similar number of civil law firms will have to close their offices and it is very doubtful indeed that many will be able to transfer offices and staff to Bradford.”
There were also concerns about the cost of expanding the Bradford courts to cope with the extra workload but Government officials say the potential savings far outweigh the costs.
Consultation with staff will take place over the next few months with the courts likely to close between October and December this year.
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said: “Our courts and tribunal system is in need of urgent reform. Maintaining our under-used and dilapidated court buildings costs the taxpayer £500 million a year but some courts sit for less than half the time available.
“This is simply unsustainable. Closing these courts in poor quality buildings will raise £40 million to re-invest in the justice system and save hard-working taxpayers £27 million per year.
“The decision to close a court is never taken lightly but in the digital age I am confident we have measures in place to ensure access to justice is not diminished.”