Future of Forfar Sheriff Court secure

THE SCOTTISH Government has paved the way for the retention of Forfar Sheriff Court and the closure of the facility at Arbroath.

On Friday it was confirmed the government had accepted proposals from the Scottish Court Service to change the future structure of Scotland’s court service.

Locally, this will mean the Sheriff and Justice of the Peace courts will cease at Arbroath, and the business will transfer to Forfar. The changes will be phased over the next two years.

Following careful consideration of the proposed changes set out by the Scottish Court Service, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has now written to SCS Chief Executive, Eric McQueen, The Lord President, Lord Gill, and the chair of the Justice Committee to confirm the Scottish Government has accepted the recommendations.

Kenny MacAskill, who announced the Scottish Government’s decision via a Parliamentary Question, said: “Having given full and careful consideration of the Scottish Court Service’s recommendations and examined the analysis on the potential impact of these proposals, I believe that given the financial constraints we are all working under, these changes are justified and are compatible with our wider justice reforms.

“Unfortunately, the fragmented and outdated court system we inherited – where many smaller courts are not fit for purpose and are under-used – is no longer sustainable. While the Scottish Court Service operates independently of the Scottish Government, it is not immune from the same financial pressures. And against the backdrop of unprecedented cuts to the Scottish budget from the Westminster Government, the SCS is seeking to save £4.5 million from its revenue budget and £6.4 million from its capital budget in the period 2011- 2012 to 2014-2015.

“By making its proposed court closures and other changes to the handling of court business, SCS estimate they can save £1 million a year in running costs and £3 million in maintenance costs, money which can be better spent on improving services and facilities at a smaller number of courts.”

The Justice Secretary has now sent draft Orders to the Scottish Court Service and the Lord President which will enable the necessary legislative changes to be made in the Scottish Parliament to implement the proposed court closures.