The campaign to save Stonehaven’s sheriff court has been lost. On 11 June the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee voted 5-4 in favour of the government’s plans. The court will close next year.
North Kincardine Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Mollison commented: “A staunch defence was put up for our local courts, but the SNP won the day.”
North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes – who is a member of the justice committee and voted against the plans – said after the meeting: “Today’s vote marks the beginning of the end for local justice in Scotland. The committee voted by five to four to close a fifth of Scotland’s sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts.
“SNP members of the committee have shown complete contempt for their constituents in voting to close down local courts in Stonehaven and around the country. To make the argument to save their local courts and yet blithely vote for the government demonstrates a complete lack of respect.
“Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill may try to shirk responsibility, but these are his plans. He is responsible for ending Scotland’s proud tradition of delivering justice at the heart of local communities. Some 500 years of Scottish legal heritage have been wiped out by five SNP members who put party allegiance before their local community.
“The SNP’s plans are confused, chaotic and cavalier yet that seems to be good enough for the nationalist members of the committee.
“They were opposed by hundreds of local people who signed the Liberal Democrat and other petitions against the plans. Local businesses fear the consequences on the economy of the town, and victims and witnesses are concerned about the increased travel to Aberdeen to access justice.
“The value of justice delivered locally has been undermined by this decision.”
Councillor Mollison concluded: “We tried. But the SNP philosophy of big is better won through.”