Chester-le-Street Magistrates' Court held its final sitting on Monday.

The town's court has now closed permanently after holding its final hearings, and a string of traffic offences ensured the court's final day petered out in an unspectacular fashion.

Cases will now be dispersed to the three remaining courts in the North of the county - Peterlee, Consett and Durham.

The 1960s court building will retain its judicial function by remaining in use as an administrations office for cases. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police will also move in.

Durham Magistrates' Court Committee decided one of the four courts in the district had to go as the organisation found they were being used only 50 per cent of the time.

Proposals to close either Consett or Bishop Auckland Magistrates' Courts were met with strong protests and eventually dropped because they served rural areas with little public transport.

Chester-le-Street was eventually chosen for closure because it is only six miles from Durham and better served by bus and rail routes.

Royston Dent, deputy chief executive of the committee, said no jobs had been lost as a result of the closure.

He said: "We still have the building, we're using that as a administrative centre, but it will not run any courts.

"It's moving from housing Chester-le-Street court house to being Chester-le-Street office, the administrative centre for the North. So the vast majority of staff are still based at Chester-le-Street.

"The ushers all work between all the different courts anyway, so it means one less court for them to attend, although I do accept they're now covering three instead of four.

"No-one has taken early retirement or lost their jobs because of the change."

The closure coincides with the reopening of Derwentside Magistrates' Court in Consett, which has been undergoing a refit over the past few months.