COUNCIL leader Jonathan Lester said Herefordshire has been ‘shortchanged’ after the secretary of state for justice ‘brushed off’ calls for remand cases to be brought back to the county.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service moved remand cases from Hereford to Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court in April this year.

Since then, defendants and their families in Hereford face a 75-mile round trip to the Wyre Forest town with all the extra time or cost involved.

Herefordshire Council unanimously agreed a motion in July deploring the new arrangement and asked Councillor Lester to call on David Gauke, the justice secretary, to right a wrong and return such cases to Hereford.

Speaking at this month’s full council, Councillor Carole Gandy, who seconded the original motion, said: “I am extremely disappointed by the tone of the response from the secretary of state which to me appears to be nothing short of a brush off.

“These defendants, their families and the victims will be those we represent.

“We have been democratically elected to act as their advocates to speak up on their behalf and yet we were not consulted on these changes.

“As the letter from us to the secretary of state for justice has fallen on deaf ears I would urge the leader to write to both members of Parliament on this subject as I believe we must continue to shout loudly for the rights of our residents.”

Coun Lester said he shared her disappointment and agreed to raise the issue with the county’s MPs.

He said: “I share your disappointment in the response that we got and note that the matter will be monitored but I have been monitoring the situation and, as such, this is the point about how we feel we have been shortchanged here much to the inconvenience of all of those people it involves.

“I’m happy to take this matter forward and communicate with our MPs in the light of the response we had.”