Holyrood debates Rothesay Sheriff Court threat

PROPOSALS to close Rothesay Sheriff Court, and dozens of other courts across Scotland, in a bid to cut costs were debated in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

Rothesay is one of seven sheriff courts being considered for closure because they are not busy enough, in a leaked document prepared by the Scottish Court Service (SCS) entitled ‘Future Court Structures’.

Five justice of the peace courts are under threat for the same reason, and another eight sheriff courts serving smaller towns could be shut because they are located within 20 miles of another court.

The court in Rothesay sits on one day a week in Argyll and Bute Council’s premises at Eaglesham House in the town’s Mountpleasant Road, having moved from its original home in Castle Street in 2005 as a cost-saving measure, though the presiding sheriff, SCS staff, procurator fiscal and defence agents all have to travel from the mainland

Labour’s East Lothian MSP Iain Gray, who led the members’ debate at Holyrood, said: “Today’s debate is welcome because there is real concern across Scotland about the consequences of closing local courts.

“Not only will it deprive many people of local access to justice, it would also mean an increasing burden on our busiest courts in the major towns and cities and could lead to greater delays and increased costs all round.”