Barrie Grunewald: Court closure is a bitter pill to swallow

Council leader Barrie Grunewald
Council leader Barrie Grunewald

I’m saddened to hear that St Helens is to lose a yet another key asset after the Ministry of Justice confirmed its decision to close St Helens Magistrates Court.

St Helens Council objected to the proposals during the consultation period so the news really is a bitter pill to swallow.

How can we expect defendants, witnesses and victims of crime to make far longer journeys into Liverpool to ensure that justice is done?

The government claims most people will be within an hour’s drive of their nearest court. But for many people that simply isn’t an option as they don’t have access to a car.

Access to justice will suffer as a result of this short-sighted attempt to save money which, in the long term, could have costly repercussions for our communities.

I am, however, pleased that the County Court, will remain open and will benefit from extra work from Warrington, but the Magistrates Court really was vital for the borough.

St Helens Council will once again be showing its support to two very important campaigns this month.

February is about celebrating LGBT History Month, the national celebration and awareness campaign of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.

The focus of this year’s campaign – led by Schools OUT UK – is ‘Religion, Belief and Philosophy’, seeking to address issues experienced by the LGBT community arising from their various faiths and beliefs and those of others, and to celebrate the harmony that can be achieved.

The council fully supports the aims of this year’s LGBT History Month. Equality and understanding are integral to a cohesive and lasting community, which is something we strive to achieve here in St Helens.

We have long taken an active stance for equality and against discrimination of any kind with our No Place for Hate campaign. I’d encourage all residents to pledge their support and spread a powerful message that St Helens is No Place for Hate!

To sign the No Place for Hate pledge, visit http://safer.sthelens.gov.uk/.

Meanwhile, St Helens Council is also supporting a new anti-domestic abuse

campaign taking place across parts of the North West.

‘Be a Lover not a Fighter’ is running across areas in Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire in a bid to encourage people to talk about the problem and be aware of what they should do to help if someone is experiencing domestic abuse.

The campaign asks people to wear the ‘Be a Lover not a Fighter’ badge and to offer another to a friend or family member.

In St Helens, residents will be able pledge their support, and access information and advice about domestic abuse and the support services available locally at a pop-up stall in the Hardshaw Shopping Centre, on February 24.

For more information, where the engagement events are being held or to find out how you can pledge your support go to www.lovernotfighter.org.uk