Campaign launched to save Rothesay Sheriff Court

We recently reported in today’s paper that The Buteman have teamed up with Wm. Skelton & Co - local law firm - to encourage as many people as possible to protest against the planned closure of Rothesay Sheriff Court.

The Scottish Courts Service wants to transfer all Bute’s court business to the mainland in a bid to cut just £6,000 from its budget.

Politicians, lawyers, retired police officers and members of Bute Community Council have all warned that closing Rothesay Sheriff Court will cause serious damage to public faith in the justice system.

As a result, Elaine Campbell from Wm. Skelton & Co has drafted a letter to the SCS which sums up the consequences of closing the court.

Members of the public are invited to use the template below for writing to SCS, justice minister Kenny Macaskill and Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell.

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Scottish Court Service

Field Services Directorate

Court Structures Consultation

1A Parliament Square

EDINBURGH

EH1 1RF

Dear Sirs

Scottish Court Service Consultation - Proposals for a Court Structure for the Future

Proposal 5 – Proposed Closure of Rothesay Sheriff Court, Isle of Bute

I oppose the proposal to close Rothesay Sheriff Court and transfer its business to Greenock. The island’s Sheriff Court is in a special position. It shares accommodation with Argyll & Bute Council in their offices in Rothesay. I understand if this Court closes that the saving to Scottish Court Service is only £6,000 a year but the Police and Scottish Legal Aid Board will have to pay much more travel and accommodation costs for witnesses and for additional Police cover on the island while the local Police are attending Greenock Sheriff Court. Witnesses would have to travel by ferry from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay. Ferry passengers are not allowed to stay in their vehicles and all passengers must be in the lounge areas. Defence and prosecution witnesses who should be kept apart will be forced to travel together which means a risk of intimidation. Trials are often postponed with witnesses having to travel to Court on several days. If there are gales or if a ferry breaks down witnesses may not be able to get home. Where are they to stay and how are they to pay for it while waiting for reimbursement?

Witnesses may decide against assisting the Police because of a fear of intimidation and the difficulty of travelling. If the island’s Police officers need to travel to Greenock to give their evidence, where are the extra Police officers to be found and where is the money to pay them?

If Rothesay Sheriff Court closes this will affect the safety of all those who live on or visit the island. If you must save £6,000 a year, the Court could be held less frequently instead.

I consent/do not consent (*delete as inapplicable) to this letter being made public.

Yours faithfully,

c.c Kenneth MacAskill, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, 16A Willowbrae Road, Edinburgh

c.c Michael Russell, MSP, 81 Argyll Street, Dunoon, PA23 7DH

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Join The Buteman and Wm. Skelton & Co’s campaign to Save Rothesay Sheriff Court by visiting Facebook and searching for ‘Save Rothesay Sheriff Court’