It’s a damning verdict

I WRITE as a local member of the public who has had more than 20 years personal knowledge of Huntingdon County Court. Your report (November 22) that the offices have been closed both saddens and concerns me. Does anyone realise the serious impact that t

I WRITE as a local member of the public who has had more than 20 years personal knowledge of Huntingdon County Court.

Your report (November 22) that the offices have been closed both saddens and concerns me. Does anyone realise the serious impact that this closure will have on many people in Huntingdon and the surrounding areas?

While I appreciate that this decision would not have been taken lightly, I question whether sufficient weight has been given to the needs of the most vulnerable section of the community, who will suffer because they cannot get access to local justice.

In particular, it concerns me that members of low-income families facing eviction will now have to travel to Peterborough to complete certain forms. It is all very well retaining a remote hearing centre, but this will only operate a few days per month.


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Particularly with case management demanding that urgent deadlines are kept to, many needy people require ongoing daily access to a court office locally, and cannot afford the train fare or time off work to travel to Peterborough.

It is these sort of folk who have come to appreciate the personal touch afforded them by the court staff, whom I know personally, and whose efforts gained the Chartermark accreditation for excellent customer service in 2003.

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Do Pauline Cornford's comments (November 15) that "Court users would not notice the difference" accurately reflect the needs of the most underprivileged in our community?

And do they properly acknowledge the efforts of the current members of staff who have striven unstintingly over many years to provide this town with a first class public service?

I leave the readers and court users of Huntingdon to judge.

I have simply lost count of the number of people who have avoided unnecessary eviction because there was a caring, albeit impartial, workforce at the local county court, who were available daily to explain procedures patiently and professionally. point them to good local advice agencies like HIAC and provide that first important step in enabling them to keep their home.

One nationally-based debt counselling service with which I am in regular contact provides the chilling statistics that one in four of its clients have either attempted or contemplated suicide as a result of debt.

If this does not highlight the need for accessible local services, I do not know what does.

I hope that when the new building is completed next year the needs of the less-privileged in our community will be fully catered for.

KEITH DOE, Coldhams Crescent, Huntingdon

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