MacAskill says courts closure plans are justified

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Plans to close 10 sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts in Scotland are justified, according to justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.

The Scottish Court Service (SCS) has recommended the closures which could help save £4 million a year in running and maintenance costs.

Mr MacAskill said this money can “be better spent on improving services and facilities at a smaller number of courts”.

He 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 working under, these changes are justified.”

Earmarked for closure are the sheriff courts in Dornoch, Duns, Kirkcudbright, Peebles, Rothesay, Cupar, Dingwall, Arbroath, Haddington and Stonehaven, with their business transferred to nearby locations.

Also facing closure are justice of the peace courts in Annan, Irvine, Motherwell, Cumbernauld, Portree, Stornoway and Wick.

In the same report, the SCS recommends that High Court cases are heard predominantly in three centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Mr MacAskill has told SCS chief executive Eric McQueen and Lord President Lord Gill that the Scottish Government accepts the recommendations.

Labour’s Lewis Macdonald criticised the plan.

“Kenny MacAskill’s announcement will be a slap in the face for all the communities affected by these closures.

“The SNP have made great play that these proposals have come from the courts service but given the speed with which the SNP have endorsed them, it is clear that the Lord President is simply doing their bidding.”