Work in hand to move court business

FORFAR SHERIFF COURT: Saved by the Scottish Court Service though there may be reprecussions to come.
FORFAR SHERIFF COURT: Saved by the Scottish Court Service though there may be reprecussions to come.

The Scottish Court Service (SCS) is committed to a Forfar-based court service for the whole of Angus, local MSP Graeme Dey has said.

Eric McQueen, SCS chief executive, has made clear that his organisation will retain a strong court presence as preparations are made to close Arbroath Sheriff Court and move all court business to the town.

Mr Dey contacted Mr McQueen seeking an update on progress being made in the plan.

In his reply, Mr McQueen said: “Work is already in hand to bring together the Arbroath and Forfar court programmes and ensure that all business requiring a court diet to be allocated after May 2014 can be fixed into the Forfar programme.

“Building plans have also been lodged to develop the accommodation in Forfar and so ensure it will provide high quality facilities, confirming our long term commitment to Forfar.”

He also confirmed that the SCS is in communication with Victim Support Scotland (VSS) over the move and that space has been included to offer VSS improved facilities in the plans for Forfar.

Mr Dey had sought assurances that a variety of issues, emanating from the closure of Arbroath, which he and Angus MP Mike Weir had raised previously are being actively addressed.

He said: “I was pleased to receive confirmation that the SCS have taken on-board many of the concerns both myself and Mike Weir raised with them. In particular, their pledge to take a ‘pragmatic approach’ to case programming where public transport is infrequent and may cause difficulty in attending court at certain times is welcome.”

In a bid to protect witnesses based on the coastal strip the SCS are investigating options to establish a video link in Arbroath to ensure that any witness defined as vulnerable would be able to give evidence without having to travel to Forfar. Mr McQueen also revealed that although the SCS had been willing to accommodate staff in other locations if that better suited them, all Arbroath-based court staff have opted to re-locate to Forfar.