Fear that court will be overwhelmed

CHANGE AHEAD?: Forfar Sheriff Court may have to cope with extra demands if Arbroath Sheriff Court is found surplus to requirements.

CHANGE AHEAD?: Forfar Sheriff Court may have to cope with extra demands if Arbroath Sheriff Court is found surplus to requirements.

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ANGUS councillor Glennis Middleton has expressed concern that Forfar Sheriff Court could become overworked if its Arbroath counterpart closes.

Speaking after the consultation into the future of courts in Scotland, Councillor Middleton said in an ideal world both Forfar and Arbroath would stay open.

She continued: “I think there is sufficient business in Angus that we need two courts.

“I met the news that Forfar is off the hit list with some relief, however, Arbroath is also a very busy court.

“I have significant fears regarding the level of business that would have to take place in Forfar if Arbroath closed.

“As many people come from rural areas and rely on public transport we could also have the situation of the accused and a witness sharing the same bus which is unacceptable.

“The closure of Arbroath would clearly impact on a whole series of services that the council deliver through the court and someone has to meet the cost of that.

“It may well be a cost cutting measure for the Scottish Court Service (SCS) but it is not for everyone else.”

A spokesperson for the SCS, said: “The consultation period on future court structures closed on December 21, 2012.

“An analysis of consultation responses will be carried out during January and February 2013 and we anticipate publishing a report in April 2013 setting out the SCS response to the consultation and our firm proposals for future court structures.

“The decision on any resulting court closures would be a matter for the Scottish Parliament and would require the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to bring forward subordinate legislation.

“Should the Cabinet Secretary agree with any proposal for court closures it is likely that the necessary orders would be laid before the summer recess.”