DAGGERS are really drawn over the sword of justice potentially hanging over Northallerton magistrates court. The Ministry of Justice has sharpened the axe and positioned it carefully over the court as part of moves to update and revolutionise the system in this digital age. Northallerton apparently costs £140,000 a year but the big concern seems to be that it is out of date, however everyone at the coal face seems to think it works pretty well. The consultation document actually contains the statement closure would be "in order to consolidate and improve the efficiency of courts in the area." Hmm, a bit rich surely.

So they have a fight on their hands, with swords or otherwise. The issue has galvanised opposition on a mammoth scale, rarely has an issue brought such scathing and determined objections. In Northallerton the county council launched a stinging attack, Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said the proposal looked like it had been put together on the back of an envelope, and for surrounding towns it’s even more of a kick in the teeth, areas such as Bedale, Stokesley and Richmond lost their magistrates courts in previous cuts with the assurance offenders would be dealt with down the road in Northallerton and local justice would still be just that. Now the nearest court would be at Harrogate, York, Skipton or Teesside.

This week Bedale town council added their voice to the clamour, warning ‘hands off’ and they're sending a strong letter to the ministry protesting. The consultation ends on March 29, even if they do go ahead we can't let them be in any doubt no one who actually is involved believes for one minute it will "improve efficiency."