Bute court campaigners meet justice secretary

The members of the Bute delegation who met justice secretary Kenny MacAskill in Edinburgh on Thursday. From left they are Tim Saul, Rothesay restaurant owner and chair of the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival; Craig Borland, editor of The Buteman; solicitor Elaine Campbell from Wm. Skelton & Co; and retired police superintendent Dan Edgar.
The members of the Bute delegation who met justice secretary Kenny MacAskill in Edinburgh on Thursday. From left they are Tim Saul, Rothesay restaurant owner and chair of the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival; Craig Borland, editor of The Buteman; solicitor Elaine Campbell from Wm. Skelton & Co; and retired police superintendent Dan Edgar.

Campaigners from Bute hoping to save Rothesay Sheriff Court from closure met Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill in Edinburgh on Thursday.

The Bute group spent an hour in talks with Mr MacAskill and Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell at the Scottish Parliament, explaining why the closure of the court is unlikely to deliver the service improvements or cost savings which the Scottish Courts Service hopes its closure programme will achieve.

After the meeting, one member of the delegation, solicitor Elaine Campbell from Rothesay firm Wm. Skelton & Co., said: “He grasped the points we were making and said he would go back to SCS chief executive Eric McQueen with the points we raised. I’m definitely more hopeful than I was before we went in to the meeting.”

Mr Russell, who has already publicly stated his support for the campaign to save the court, said: “Mr MacAskill agreed to take away and consider again some of these matters and he was particularly concerned about the special circumstances pertaining to island courts which, the Rothesay delegation believed, had not been adequately dealt with during the consultation process.

“I also stressed with Mr MacAskill the near unanimous view on the island that the closure should not proceed.

“Earlier in the day I met with Eric MacQueen to press upon him the concerns of the community on Bute and to make wider representation about the decision to withdraw jury trials from Argyll.

“I shall now be writing to him once more about these issues.”

* More on this story later on Friday, and in the next issue of The Buteman - on sale from Thursday, May 30.