Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley Chronicle, 22 September

I’m collecting signatures from local people to send a clear message to the Government that their plans to close Dudley's magistrates court are completely unwanted.


SIGN MY PETITION TO SAFEGUARD LOCAL JUSTICE

Last week the Government released official plans that could put an end to local justice in Dudley.

Their preferred option would mean all criminal cases are dropped from Dudley Magistrates. Instead they would be heard at courts in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall instead.

I grew up in the town and there’s been a magistrates court in Dudley for as long as I can remember, but if the plans go ahead, Dudley would be the biggest place in the country with no criminal court.

Some people have asked me why this is so important. It’s not to do with criminals having to travel further to stand trial, although I think more will fail to appear, wasting time and costing more money. For me, it’s about justice being done locally and the impact on the town centre.

The plans mean that victims of crime will be forced to make a round trip of up to two hours to give evidence. How many trials will have to be delayed or cancelled because the victim hasn’t been able to get to the court? Being a victim or witness of crime is hard enough. Why make things harder still?

Magistrates will have to travel further to do their jobs. They don’t get paid. They’re volunteers. How many magistrates will quit because they can’t fit hours more travel time into their schedules? And what about the local knowledge that is so crucial in court?

Dudley-based journalists report on local cases. That’s how we know whether justice is being done and criminals are being brought to book. These plans will make things harder for them to report on cases and harder to us to find out if criminals are getting the punishment they deserve.

People working in Dudley Magistrates could be moved or made redundant, and lawyers with offices in Dudley could move elsewhere. This comes on top of the closure of our police station at night. It’s my job to stand up for the town and I’m worried Dudley town centre will be worse off as a result.

The plans should be dropped immediately. I’m collecting signatures from local people to send a clear message to the Government that their plans are completely unwanted.

Stand up for Dudley by signing my petition on my website at www.ianaustin.co.uk or by calling my office on 01384 342 504 to ask for a form you can share with your friends, family and neighbours.

EXOVA

It was great to be invited to open world-leading manufacturing specialist Exova’s new Dudley centre last week.

Scientists and engineers had travelled from as far afield as Japan, Asia and Germany to visit what is now one of the most advanced hi-tech testing centres in the world.

Exova has invested £3 million in the new research centre which will make Dudley the site of world-leading know-how on combating corrosion.

New techniques will be developed right here in Dudley to prevent major infrastructure, buildings and machines from breaking down due to corrosion. Governments and businesses from across the world will come to Dudley for techniques that will save millions of pounds every year.

The centre will be home to some of the world’s most skilled and experienced experts in the field, providing jobs and training for the next generation of scientists and engineers in Dudley.

I refuse to accept that Dudley’s best days are behind us. We all know that Dudley is the home of the Industrial Revolution that changed the world, but this goes to show that we can still lead the world on industry and research.

PRIORY PARK

I also had the pleasure of attending the opening of new facilities at Priory Park last week.

Thanks to the hard work of the Friends of Priory Park, local councillors, Dudley Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the park now has seen a range of improvements, including work to enhance and safeguard the Priory, a new pavilion and a statue to Dudley-born Wimbledon champion Dorothy Round.

As a child I lived close to the park, and spent much of my time there. I think the facilities for today’s youngsters are absolutely brilliant.

The statue to Dorothy Round will inspire local youngsters. Her achievements show that we are as good as anybody and that with the right support, hard work and dedication, youngsters from Dudley can beat anyone in the world.

COSELEY EAST ELECTION

Congratulations to Clem Baugh who won last week’s by-election in the Coseley East ward with a stunning result for Labour. I’ve known and worked with Clem for 25 years, and I know he will work hard and fight for his constituents.

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