SOUTH Lakeland Magistrates' Court will not close, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

As revealed by the Gazette, fears were circulating that the Kendal courthouse could be shut and cases transferred to Barrow.

The Ministry of Justice is in the midst of a major re-structure of the judicial system in England and Wales.

Following a consultation on court estate reform in 2010, the Government decided to close 93 magistrates' and 49 county courts.

So far, 69 magistrates and 42 county courts have closed but further closures are expected.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron asked Justice Minister Helen Grant MP for assurances that South Lakeland's would stay open.

And she replied: “The courthouse in Kendal, which houses Kendal County Court and South Lakeland Magistrates' Court, currently hears civil, family and criminal matters and I can confirm that there are no current plans to remove criminal matters from this courthouse.“

Mr Farron said: “This is reassuring news for Kendal. I welcome this clarification and the assurances that I received verbally have now been put down in writing.

“Our court is a vital part of the public sector in town and I welcome the Minister’s commitment to keep it here and keep it open.

“I will keep a close eye on the issue and fight to keep it open."