On Monday 24 March, Kevan spoke in the House of Commons debate on court closures.
Consett Magistrates’ Court is due to close later in the year, following a Government proposal to streamline the courts service.
In his speech, Kevan said:
“In my constituency, people use the magistrates court in Consett, and they were told in the public consultation that took place in the north-east that if they had to travel to Peterlee court—as they will now have to—they could go by train. Well, that would be a very circuitous route, seeing as there is no train station in Peterlee.
“I suggested to the Minister that it would make more sense for my constituents to travel to Newcastle or Gateshead—it would certainly be a lot quicker to get from Chester-le-Street, in my constituency, for example, to Gateshead or Newcastle magistrates court. I am also told by the local head of the Crown Prosecution Service that there is spare capacity in those two courts.
“I wrote to the Minister on 25 February, and I was very disappointed this morning when I got his letter, which said that my proposal was not possible and that my constituents would still have to travel to Peterlee. That makes no sense whatever, when people can get from Chester-le-Street to Newcastle in 10 minutes on the train, as opposed to the nearly two hours it takes to get to Peterlee. I would therefore ask the Minister to look again at those proposals. I accept that the problem people have is that they will have to cross county boundaries, but my proposals will make things a lot easier for many of my constituents.
“I do not think that the people who drew up this consultation looked at the local geography, and I think they assumed that everyone had access to a car. Not everyone in my rural constituency has access to a car, and public transport is intermittent. If that puts an obstacle in the way of them getting justice, I have to say that, in a modern and rich society such as ours, that is a scandal.”
You can read or watch Kevan’s full contribution, and the rest of the debate, by clicking on the links below: