By 2018 Nathaniel Hone
With a little help from the High Sheriff, the Bench AGM was held at College Hall and addressed by the Chief Magistrate, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot. Rather confusingly, in spite of the title, The Chief Magistrate does not have jurisdiction over lay Magistrates but has responsibilities as follows (to quote from the Official web-site) :
The Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), as he or she is known, has a leadership responsibility for the 300-or-so District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) (DJMCs), and Deputy DJMCs across England and Wales. The Chief Magistrate has no authority over lay magistrates, or over the several hundreds of district judges who sit in the county courts of England and Wales.
As it goes on to say, when the post was first created (1735), the title was not confusing at all. Anyone wanting to know more can look here.
Whereas District Judges are paid, the lay Magistrates are not. They do not even get an allowance for holding their AGM. Hereford Cathedral kindly agreed to offer the use of College Hall for the event for no charge. The Justice System is very reliant on a large number of public spirited people giving their services for nothing. Even so, other parts of the system are starved of funds and are creaking badly, letting down the public in the process. Alongside the Defence of the Realm, the Administration of Justice should be a top priority for the State but it does not attract many votes.