SOLICITORS and staff turned out in full force to say an emotional goodbye to their county court.
Dewsbury County Court was the second local courthouse to close in a week after Batley and Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court closed on March 23.
It heard its final cases last Thursday, March 29, and a reception was held to mark the end of civil hearings in North Kirklees.
The closure of both courts in Dewsbury was announced in December 2010 as part of a major cost-cutting effort by the Ministry of Justice.
Speaking to court staff and solicitors at last week’s reception, District Judge Bruce Buchan said: “I’m very sad to say we are closing today.
“As a team we have tried to provide a service to the community – one where people are able to put their case without fear or favour and they feel that their case has been considered fairly.
“To me it’s a very great shame that this court is closing because in January this court conducted more work than Huddersfield.
“A decision was made in London. I can’t comment on it, but it’s a sad day for me.”
Judge Buchan was the district judge at Dewsbury County Court for 20 years. He will now hear cases in Leeds and Skipton instead, while civil matters from North Kirklees will be dealt with at Huddersfield County Court.
A painting of the courthouse by Dewsbury artist David Martin was presented to Judge Buchan by Andrew Hill from Dewsbury and District Law Society.
Mr Hill talked staff through the history of Dewsbury County Court before thanking Judge Buchan for his years of service and the court staff for all of their work.
He said: “This court has been manned by loyal and predominantly local staff.
“It has been the focal point of civil justice, not just in Dewsbury, but in the district, and now it has come to an end.”
He told Judge Buchan: “You have shown kindness, courteousness and fairness to all members of Dewsbury and District Law Society, the staff, and everybody who has come before you in the courts.”
After the presentation Mr Hill said: “As far as the court staff are concerned, they are very sad, but as far as the Law Society is concerned, we worry that there are people who might be put off using the court service because it’s now based in Huddersfield or Leeds or Wakefield.
“We are losing a local amenity. It’s not as though we are losing the courts – it’s just that we are losing local courts”
Dewsbury was one of the first towns to have a county court when the modern civil justice system was established in 1846.
Dewsbury County Court had been based in the same building from 1860 until it closed last week.
The final case to be heard there was a family matter presided over by Judge Buchan.