Not a Happy Valley over court closures

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Halifax MP Holly Lynch has attacked the government’s proposals to close Halifax’s two courts at a debate in Parliament.

Ms Lynch told MPs that although the depiction of her Halifax constituency in the hit TV series Happy Valley was entirely fictional the town still needed its court.

“Anyone who has seen the recent BBC series Happy Valley, set in my constituency, would be forgiven for thinking that surely there was enough criminal activity in Halifax to keep two courts busy, processing criminals, around the clock; perhaps even with enough demand to open a Crown Court due to the severity and frequency of the criminal activity taking place.

“I am pleased to inform you that Happy Valley, whilst thoroughly gripping television, is not an accurate portrayal of law and order across Calderdale.

“Back in the real world we were prepared to compromise and see one of our two courts close.”

After serving the town for 140 years both Calderdale (Halifax) Magistrates’ Court and Halifax County Court and Family Court are set to close in a few months’ time.

Ms Lynch explained to MPs that local campaigners had put forward a plan to save at least one court in Halifax however this had been rejected by the government.

“We recognised efficiency savings could be made, and in a move predominantly led by the local Magistrates’ Bench we actively campaigned for a merging of the courts in a way which would have delivered a cost saving for the Government, while access to local justice would have been maintained,” she said.

The Government announced earlier this year that a total of 86 courthouses across England and Wales will be shut as part of a £700 million attempt to modernise the justice system.

Greater emphasis is due to be placed on things like video links for witnesses, systems to enable the online filing of court papers and provision to allow pleas to be entered by mobile phone in order to reduce the need for people to actually attend a court.