Holyrood sounds death-knell for Rothesay Sheriff Court

Rothesay Sheriff Court currently sits at Argyll and Bute Council's local registration office at Eaglesham House each Monday.
Rothesay Sheriff Court currently sits at Argyll and Bute Council's local registration office at Eaglesham House each Monday.

Rothesay Sheriff Court’s doors will shut for good by November this year after politicians turned a deaf ear to community concerns about the impact of closure.

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee voted against a motion to annul parliamentary orders endorsing the Scottish Courts Service’s recommendation that Rothesay, along with nine other sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts across the country, should be closed.

Had the committee backed the motion, by Labour’s justice spokesperson Lewis Macdonald MSP, at its meeting on Tuesday, the issue would have been considered by a full meeting of the Scottish Parliament.

The SCS recommendation, publicly backed by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, is that Rothesay Sheriff Court should close by November 2013 and all Bute’s civil and criminal court business be transferred to Greenock.

The closure will save the SCS a paltry £6,000 a year, but opponents say that saving will be more than wiped out by the increased costs to other public agencies, and will also pose a threat to community safety on the island.

Mr MacAskill told Tuesday’s committee meeting: “All change has its pros and cons but on balance our considered view is that this is the way forward.”

The recommendations are now expected to be rubber-stamped by the end of this month.

* For more reaction to the news, see this week’s issue of The Buteman - on sale from Thursday, June 13.