Observer’s coverage of courts campaign ‘vital’ to its success

DM1615993a.jpg Chichester Crown Court closure protest in 2016. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-161203-205003008
DM1615993a.jpg Chichester Crown Court closure protest in 2016. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-161203-205003008

The Observer’s coverage has been singled out as ‘vital’ by campaigners who have successfully fought to retain justice provision in Chichester following a Government decision to shut the city’s courts in 2015.

This week it was announced alternate provision had been secured after a three-year battle, with family and civil cases set to be heard at East Pallant House, the headquarters of Chichester District Council, once the county court closes.

Criminal cases are no longer heard in the city as both the crown and magistrates courts have both already shut, but some evidence will be able to be given at the police station via video link.

Since the Government was not originally planning to provide any future court provision campaigners have welcomed the result as a ‘huge victory’.

Those singled out for praise by campaigners include Pallant Chambers, members of the city council and Chichester BID, former MP Andrew Tyrie, charity Stonepillow and the Chichester and District Citizens Advice Bureau.

Edward Cooke, a Chichester family lawyer and mediator as well as a spokesperson for Resolution, the nationwide organisation of family law professionals, has led the campaign to retain justice facilities in Chichester.

He said: “The Chichester Observer’s interest in local campaigns such as this has also been vital to keeping our battle to keep court provision in Chichester in the public eye.”

Gary Shipton, editor and editorial director of the Observer, said: “The support and coverage we have given the hard fought battle to retain court provision in the city is another clear example of why the role of local independent newspapers is so important in campaigning fearlessly for our communities. In this case we are delighted by the outcome.

“Justice must be seen to be done - and it must be accessible to everyone involved in a case. Retaining local provision is an essential part of this.”

Joshua Powling, political editor, added: “Our readers are at the heart of everything we do and this includes championing the causes that matter to them. I always encourage residents, businesses and organisations to contact us about anything where they believe we can make a difference.”