Apart from the bean counters in Whitehall and some Justices` Clerks up and down the country who view their actions over the last two years of chaos in the courts as a C.V. of their capabilities should they be considered at some future date for selection to the top echelons of the civil service, most court users have just had to moan and groan and get on with things as best they can. After all aren`t we, the British, gold medallists at muddling through?
It`s not often that a perpetrator of the damage being done to our summary system of justice, albeit a senior flunkey for his bosses at the Ministry of Justice, is brought face to face with those who have doubts about the forces driving forward the current policies of court closures, bench amalgamations, reduced legal availability, etc etc.
Earlier this week it was just another meeting of North Devon Council's crime and disorder sub-committee. Except this meeting was attended by Tim Smith Justices` Clerk to the South West. The survivors of the culling of justices` clerks in recent years has been a salient lesson in Darwinism. Mr Smith was reported last August in denying that final decisions had been taken on the reduction of court sittings at North Devon Magistrates' Court. The exchanges at this most recent meeting provide an interesting insight into activities which are probably taking place over the whole country.