TWO south Essex courts have been earmarked for closure as part of a series of major national cutbacks.

The social security and child support tribunal in Basildon will close completely, while Southend County and Family Court will move within the crown and magistrates’ courts.

Across the country, 91 courts and tribunals will close, while a further 31 will merge with existing buildings.

The Basildon tribunal centre is currently based at Acorn House, in Great Oaks.

The cost-saving closures will mean five per cent of people will now be more than an hour away from their nearest court.

Justice minister Shailesh Vara said: “There is a broad consensus the current system is unsustainable and that we have an opportunity to create a modern, more user-focused and efficient service.

“Increased use of technology such as video, telephone and online conferencing will help drive these improvements.

“Straightforward, transactional matters, such as paying a fine and obtaining probate can be dealt with using digital technology.

“Many straightforward cases do not need face to face hearings which should be reserved for the most sensitive or complex cases. “ Mr Vara claims the national estate of 460 courts and tribunals costs taxpayers half a billion pounds each year.

But more than a third of all sites were empty for at least half their available hearing time last year.

Elsewhere in Essex, Harlow Magistrates’ Court and Colchester County Court have also been proposed for closure.

The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on its plans, ending on October 8.