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Cumbernauld's justice of the peace court to close

Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
 
 
 
Published at 15:33 GMT on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013.

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Image © Andrew Cowan/ Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.
Holyrood Justice Committee backed the proposals to save money and reform justice. Picture is copyright of Andrew Cowan/ Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0. 

CUMBERNAULD will lose its justice of the peace court after Holyrood’s Holyrood's Justice Committee backed changes the Scottish justice system.

Members of the committee narrowly voted down Labour amendments to reject two parliamentary orders bringing the closures of ten sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts into effect.

The vote now means that sheriff courts in Dornoch, Duns, Kirkcudbright, Peebles, Rothesay, Cupar, Dingwall, Arbroath, Haddington and Stonehaven will be closed, with business transferred to nearby locations. Meanwhile, justice of the peace courts in Annan, Irvine, Motherwell, Cumbernauld, Portree, Stornoway and Wick will also shut up shop.

The Law Society of Scotland said the decision will harm access to justice and stressed that the decision was a “big disappointment” and will be a “major loss”.

President Bruce Beveridge added: "Local courts are an integral part of communities across Scotland.

"In addition they make a significant contribution to the economic activity in their local communities and we're not convinced that this was fully considered before today's decision.


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"Of course we recognise the financial pressures facing the Scottish Court Service and understand that change is necessary.

"We all want a justice system that is fit for the 21st century but, while we are largely in favour of the proposals on wider court reform, we remain concerned that this closure programme will fail to provide proper access to justice or achieve significant financial savings in the long term."

The closure proposals were first proposed by the Scottish Court Service (SCS) with the Scottish Government later accepting the proposals. However, opposition MSPs argue that the closures will harm local economies and will see witnesses and victims travelling further to see justice being done, with remaining courts struggling to cope with increased business, as a direct result.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill hit back at the arguments expressed by opposition MSPs, however, and insisted the closures were justified as a cost-saving measure as well as part of a wider package of reforms to the justice system.

Mr MacAskill said: "We cannot deliver better access to justice by avoiding the need for change. It is right that we examine structures that have served us since the 19th century.

"We recognise that all change has its pros and cons, its advantages and its disadvantages. But on balance our considered view is that this the way forward."


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