MAGISTRATES courts are back in Winchester after a 15-year absence, but only until next summer.

A room at the Law Courts is again being used for remand hearings by magistrates whilst courts in Basingstoke are being revamped.

The two magistrates courts in Winchester closed in the mid-1990s amid much controversy that the county town should be without one.

A spokesperson for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service said Basingstoke Magistrates Court was being extended to create a county court.

“In the meantime Basingstoke County Court staff and work have temporarily transferred to Winchester Combined Court (listing, orders, etc) and Basingstoke Magistrates Court (public counter).

“Basingstoke Magistrates' Court closed for business on September 16 and the staff and work relocated to Andover Magistrates Court, with the custody/remand hearings going to Winchester Combined Court.”

The arrangement will be in place until the extension is completed in June 2012.