THE SCOTTISH Court Service has announced that Arbroath Sheriff and JP Courts are to close, and all business will transfer to Forfar.
The decision, which was widely predicted, was nonetheless greeted with dismay.
Montrose solicitor Hamish Watt is the Angus Council member of the Law Society of Scotland, and he said that consultations had taken place among the local Faculty of Solicitors, including the MSPs for the area, and a response had been submitted. Representations had also been made by the Law Society of Scotland to the Scottish Court Service about Lord Gill’s proposals.
Mr Watt went on: “These responses have been strongly worded and are on behalf of the 40,000 or so people in the coastal area of Angus, from Monifieth to Montrose, and the associated rural areas. The closure of Arbroath is totally disproportionate to the population of the Forfar, Kirriemuir and Brechin area.”
Mr Watt is also concerned about accused persons and others, including witnesses and victims, travelling from Montrose to the Court in Forfar by public transport. There is no direct bus link, and passengers have to change at either Arbroath or Forfar.
Mr Watt firmly believes that a large number of accused persons will not make the 10am starting time for court business in Forfar, resulting in a greatly increased number of apprehension warrants being issued, which will cause delays to the court’s work, and additional work and costs for police in implementing these. There will also be additional costs for solicitors who attend court.
Mike Weir MP, said: “I am disappointed that Arbroath Sheriff Court is to close. I argued for, and continue to believe, that the present structure of the courts in Arbroath and Forfar serves Angus well. The closure of Arbroath will impact upon the town but also on those who have to travel from Montrose to court in Forfar.”
And Nanette Milne, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East, said: “The closure of Arbroath and Stonehaven Sheriff Courts would represent a major blow to justice being delivered to communities in Angus and Kincardine.
“It is clear that the consequences of closing both Arbroath and Stonehaven Sheriff Courts will inevitably inconvenience members of the public and take away from the front line policing duties of local police officers.”