It looks likely that Stonehaven court will close, despite the protests of local people. The Scottish Court Service report “Shaping Scotland’s Court Services” was published this afternoon.
It recommends that Stonehaven – along with others courts – will close in May 2014 and the business transfer to Aberdeen. This will save £50,000 a year in running costs.
North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison said: “It is now up to Scottish Ministers to consider the recommendations, take a view, and to take any necessary statutory orders to the Scottish Parliament. With the majority held by the SNP, I suggest regrettably that it is game over. Another local facility going, going, gone.”
North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said: “I am disappointed that Stonehaven has been earmarked for closure along with other courts.
“They are important to the communities they serve. There are clear advantages to maintaining an effective local service and SNP Ministers need to think hard before implementing these recommendations.
“The ball is now firmly in the SNP’s court. Ministers have the power to save these services. They need to listen to the views of local people on the damage these closures could cause and act to protect local justice.
“While we have to ensure that the country’s criminal justice system is fit for the 21st century, I am concerned that the closures could have a damaging effect on the length of time cases take to be heard.
“The loss of the local court would be of considerable inconvenience to litigants, witnesses and the police. Members of the public who are required for jury duty will also be affected.
“This is not only bad for justice in the North East but little comfort to victims of crime and their families. Justice should be done – and be seen to be done – as locally as possible.”
The full report can be accessed at: http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-source/scs-consultation-court-structures/response_to_the_consultation_and_recommendationspdf.pdf