Dozens of court cafes could close

The statue of

The statue of "Lady Justice" by the British sculptor, Frederick William Pomeroy, which stands on the dome of the Central Criminal Court also referred to as the Old Bailey.

First published in Entertainment News © by

Dozens of cafes at crown courts in England and Wales could be set to close.

A contract for running 67 canteens - by Compass Group-owned Eurest - expires this weekend.

HM Courts & Tribunals officials are still in negotiations with other firms but it is expected new deals will be issued for only half of the affected crown courts.

As well as scores of canteen staff losing their jobs, concerns have been expressed about the possible knock-on effect to those working at and using the courts.

An HM Courts & Tribunals Service spokeswoman said: "The national contract with Eurest for the provision of on-site catering services in crown courts expires on August 31.

"We are considering bids from national, regional and local companies to provide services after that date, with a view to getting best value for money."

Courts officials say it is "not possible" to say how many court cafes will close given that "negotiations are ongoing".

However, it is "anticipated" half of 67 courts under the soon-to-expire Eurest deal will not have on-site catering.

While specific details have not yet been released, the affected courts will be ones where there is "access" to shops, cafes and restaurants nearby and vending machines will be put in place of canteens.

The HM Courts & Tribunals Service added it had advertised for catering contracts at courts in England and Wales. However, unlike in the past, the contracts would be without government subsidy because of the need to "deliver savings".

Shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan branded the situation as unacceptable.

He said: "This just shows the chaos at the heart of the Ministry of Justice.

"If Chris Grayling can't even manage the basics like making sure there are catering contractors in place in courts up and down the country what hope is there for the proper running of our justice system.

"The incompetence of David Cameron's Government knows no bounds. On his Government's watch, they've allowed prisons to slip into crisis and probation to go into meltdown."

Meanwhile canteen staff at crown courts where deals have been signed - such as Cardiff and Swansea - say they have no idea if they will still have a job come the start of next week.

Labour candidate for Cardiff Central Jo Stevens said hard-working staff deserved better.

"It is outrageous that dedicated staff in Cardiff's courts have no idea if they'll have a job to go to next week.

"They deserve better than to be strung along."

A spokesman for Eurest said: "Following HM Courts & Tribunals Service's decision not to renew our existing national contract, we are working with those employees affected by these changes to find the best outcome for them."

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