No reprieve for Sheriff Court as SNP vote for closure

The decision to close Arbroath Sheriff and JP Courts has been rubber-stamped by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The news, released at lunchtime today, has been greeted with dismay by a very large number of people, not only those who are concerned with administering justice, both criminal and civil, but members of the general public.

We understand that every SNP member voted for closure, this despite a united plea by the other Holyrood parties, and a letter of protest signed by the leaders of the main opposition parties.

Ten sheriff courts and 13 Justice of the Peace courts will now shut their doors, with warnings from experts that this will set a precedent for even more closures once the SNP sets up their ‘justice centres’ in areas of Scotland.

More than 10,000 cases a year across Scotland will have to be squeezed into the schedule of the remaining courts.

There has been particular anger that the SNP members sided with their party whips, instead of paying attention to the voice of their constituents, and representing their views.

Councillor David May told the Review that he is appalled by the decision, which he believes is wrong, pure and simple.

Mr May believes that the lack of direct transport links between Montrose and Forfar will create many problems, with the ultimate effect of reducing the efficiency of the surviving court in Forfar, and costing more than the perceived savings.

He also regretted that the local SNP MSP, Nigel Don, had voted with his whips rather than his constituents.

Nanette Milne, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East said: “The SNP members today had a chance to stand up for their communities, but instead took the cowardly way out to ensure they didn’t upset Alex Salmond.

“This is a bad day for justice being delivered to communities in Angus and Kincardine.

“This is a damaging decision, and one that we will soon see is a mistake.”