The £2,023-a-night cost of running Sheffield’s Judges’ Lodgings is under review as part of the latest round of Government cuts.
Whirlow Court, which can house up to three visiting judges overseeing the most serious and complex cases at Sheffield Crown Court, is used only 23 weeks of the year and the cost includes staffing, utility bills and maintenance.
But its costs are dwarfed by some other lodgings – Norwich’s Judges’ Lodgings cost more than £3,000 a night, while an address at Harpenden, north of London, costs £2,300.
Now the Ministry of Justice has decided to review the £5 m accommodation bill for judges who travel the country to hear cases – which includes supporting 32 judges’ lodgings.
The review has been welcomed by Sheffield Council cabinet member for finance, Coun Bryan Lodge.
He said: “The review of judges’ lodgings is a step in the right direction but why haven’t the Government looked at spending like this before.
“Local Government only accounts for seven per cent of public spending yet we have had to suffer 21 per cent of the cuts while other departments have escaped lightly.”
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Given the financial climate, I am reviewing all spending — including on judges’ lodgings.”
Comfort is required
Judges have said savings could be made from the cost of lodgings – but added that the facilities were important to the smooth-running of courts.
One retired High Court judge said: “It is all about striking the right balance. It is important to bring costs down.
“But we also need to ensure judges are away from all the other participants in trials. Judges can often be away for six months – so some degree of comfort is required.”
The review of judges’ lodgings comes after the Ministry of Justice announced plans to slash Britain’s £2 billion annual legal aid bill by £350 million.