RELATIVES are facing round journeys of more than 80 miles if they want to attend inquests into the deaths of their York loved ones.

Two inquests into York deaths - one of them involving a 65-year-old woman who died at York Hospital last September - were due to take place earlier this week at Skipton Magistrates’ Court, further than 40 miles away from York.

Two York inquests were due to be held on Wednesday this week in Selby, 14 miles from York, and three were set to take place 30 miles away in Northallerton on Thursday this week, with four more to be held over the next fortnight in the town.

Meanwhile on February 13, an inquest into the death of a 30-year-old man in York will take place more than 40 miles away in Scarborough.

A number of York-related inquests will be staged at the Friends Meeting House in New Earswick on February 3.

Last December, a four-day hearing into the death of Joe Downes at a York homeless hostel was held in Harrogate, more than 20 miles from York.

The choice of venue left Joe’s mother, Donna Clarkson, facing a 42-mile round journey each day from York to Harrogate and back to discover the circumstances surrounding his death at the Peasholme Centre in December 2017.

She said she wanted to attend the entire hearing and the choice of venue meant she faced around an hour’s drive there and back each day, on top of seven hours of sitting and listening to distressing evidence.

She told the Press: “An inquest is an ordeal already. So having to travel a long way to get there makes it even more so.

“It was exhausting having to travel to and from Harrogate every day. It made the whole experience more stressful.

“I just don’t understand why it was in Harrogate.

“I feel for families having to go to inquests full stop, but particularly having to travel long distances. It’s unfair.”

A spokeswoman for the coroner’s office said then that the choice of venue for the hearing was “dictated by availability and suitability".

Until recently, a majority of inquests into York deaths have been held in York, at a variety of venues including the Folk Hall or Friends Meeting House in New Earswick, the Barbican, the Register Office in Bootham, the council’s West Offices HQ and York Racecourse.

The move to venues away from York appears to have followed a shift in the administration of York inquests from City of York Council to North Yorkshire County Council, which apparently happened at some stage last autumn.

A spokeswoman for the coroner’s office said last week that an inquest can be held outside of the ‘Coronial Area’ at the discretion of the Coroner, adding: “They will be listed in the county in consultation with the family and witnesses.”

The Press asked whether there had been a fundamental shift to other locations away from York and, if so, whether this related to a change in the administration of inquests to the county council and also whether there had been any consultation, for example with York council.

Jon Heath, Assistant Coroner for North Yorkshire, responded by saying: “York and North Yorkshire inquests will be held at venues within York and North Yorkshire in consultation with families and witnesses.”

Are you affected by the holding of York inquests in other towns across North Yorkshire, such as Skipton, Northallerton or Scarborough? Please email or phone the newsdesk on 01904 567131.