CLOSING Solihull Magistrates goes against the centuries-old tradition of justice being administered locally, Full Council agreed this week.
During the summer, the Ministry of Justice consulted on plans to move all criminal cases to Birmingham.
This would be the final nail in the coffin for Solihull’s own courthouse, where the workload has plummeted in recent times.
Councillors of all political persuasions condemned a “hurried” consultation process and gave unanimous backing to a call for cases to continue to be heard in the borough.
Councillor Nick Stephens (Lab, Chelmsley Wood) said: “If we are concerned about being swallowed up by Birmingham then we need to send a clear message that a borough with 200,000 residents and growing should have its own court.”
He had brought the issue before council following concerns that the move would cause considerable inconvenience
Councillor John Windmill (Lib Dem, Olton) warned that the increasing tendency towards centralisation did not bode well for other borough services – like Solihull Hospital.
“Instead of all cases moving to an incredibly busy court at Birmingham why couldn’t cases from areas like Sheldon, Acocks Green and Yardley be outsourced to Solihull,” asked the former solicitor.
This suggestion was supported by another member with legal experience, Coun Hannah Tildesley (Con, Shirley West).
The barrister warned that Birmingham was already overworked and could not cope with the sheer number of cases.
She described how she’d been sent to the courts to cover a criminal damage case and found seven trials booked for one room.
Leader of Solihull Council, Ken Meeson, feared the “horse had already bolted” but said his group nonetheless supported Solihull keeping its courthouse.