Sheriff courts to close

MSPs vote to close ten Sheriff Courts across Scotland including Peebles, Duns and Kirkcudbright.

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MP's anger as Christine Grahame votes to close Border courts

Tweeddale MP David Mundell has expressed his disappointment and anger that SNP MSPs have pushed through plans that will close Peebles Sheriff Court.

Tweeddale member Christine Grahame, the Justice committee convener, was one of the MSP's who backed the closure plans.

"Peebles and its court have been let down by their local MSP. I am deeply disappointed that Christine Grahame wasn’t able to stand up to her SNP whips and make sure that the MSPs got their say.

"Local people have been badly let down by democracy and I am quite certain that local justice will suffer as a consequence of this decision.

“The SNP members today had a chance to stand up for their communities, but instead took the cowardly way out to ensure they didn’t upset Alex Salmond.

"This is a damaging decision, and one that we will soon see is a mistake."

– Tweeddale MP David Mundell

Borders MSP defends court closures

A local MSP has defended a decision to close a number of sheriff courts in Scotland, including Peebles and Duns, saying she "could not argue" against the arguments put forward by Scotland's most senior judge, Lord Gill to support their closure.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame says the closures do not mean users of the justice system in the Borders will receive a poorer service.

She said:

In the Lord Gill’s view the current network of sheriff courts is not fit for purpose and I could not argue against his sensible testimony to the committee. After all throughout his distinguished legal career Lord Gill has worked his way up from grass roots level and knows the system inside out. It was the intellectual case rather than the financial one which won the day.

– Christine Grahame MSP, Midlothian South Tweeddale & Lauderdale

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Courts closures a "damaging decision" says Borders MSP

“The SNP members today had a chance to stand up for their communities, but instead took the cowardly way out to ensure they didn’t upset Alex Salmond.

“This is a damaging decision, and one that we will soon see is a mistake.

“Courts already over-burdened with work will have to take on even more cases, and that will risk lengthy delays to sensitive and significant cases.

“Witnesses and victims who find themselves involved in the justice system through no fault of their own will also be inconvenienced by longer and more awkward journeys.

“This decision proves the Scottish Government isn’t serious about crime, and is yet more evidence of its soft-touch agenda.”

– John Lamont MSP, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire

Jim Hume MSP condemns court closures

Jim Hume MSP with a small sample of the letters of objection from constituents Credit: Scottish Parliament

Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for South Scotland, has condemned the decision by SNP members of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee not to close Peebles and Duns Sheriff Courts.

Mr Hume received 400 signatures in one week on his petition against the closures.

Mr Hume said:

“Today was the last chance to save Peebles and Duns courts, but SNP members on the committee have ignored the massive public opposition to these fundamental changes to our justice system.”

Local sheriff courts await decision

Campaigners protesting last month Credit: ITV News Border

MSPs on the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee will vote today on plans to close local courts across Scotland.

The sheriff courts in Peebles, Duns and Kirkudbright are all under threat after Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill backed Scottish Court Service recommendations.

Opposition leaders have written an open letter to the Justice Committee, asking its members to support a motion to annul the proposals and 'stand up for local services, jobs, businesses and proper access to justice'.

The SNP holds a majority on the Justice Committee, with five MSPs to four from opposition parties.

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