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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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Court closure protest in Peebles

Protestors Credit: ITV News Border

Campaigners against plans to close Peebles Sheriff Court have held a demonstration outside the court.

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume was joined by councillor Catriona Bhatia and members of the public to show their support for keeping the court open.

The Scottish Government has approved plans to close 10 courts, including Peebles and Duns, in a bid to save money.

The Scottish Justice committee has called for submissions on the issue by tomorrow (21st May).

Sheriff Court closures

The Scottish Courts Service (SCS) has announced it wants to press ahead with plans to close Peebles, Duns and Kirkcudbright Sheriff Courts by January 2015.

Court proceedings would instead be held in Jedburgh, Selkirk and Dumfries.

The Justice of the Peace Court in Annan is also set to close.

The final decision on court closures will be taken by the Scottish Parliament.

"This is a hugely disappointing decision that will be a massive blow to the justice system we have here in the Borders.

"To shut both Duns and Peebles Sheriff Courts will severely limit the access that many local people have to the justice system as they will have to travel far further to get to their nearest court.

“It also means that a huge amount of pressure will be heaped upon Jedburgh and Selkirk Sheriff Courts as they have to take on the extra workload created by these closures.

“It is disappointing that the Justice of the Peace Courts in Duns and Peebles will also be shutting."

– John Lamont MSP, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire