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.
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
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.
A Scottish Borders firm has been fined almost £100,000 for illegally keeping waste.
The Duns based company, David Cochrane (Duns) Limited, is the first in Scotland to be given a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act for an environmental crime.
The company was fined £53,000 at Duns Sheriff Court today (5th June), in addition to the £41,131 Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act which had been made against the company on 8th May.
David Cochrane (Duns) Limited pled guilty to depositing controlled waste, namely mixed waste metals, liquid, tyres and batteries on land at Station Road, Duns, and failing to remove a quantity of waste as required by a notice served by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
“David Cochrane (Duns) Limited had a significant amount of time in which to comply with the legislative requirements and had several options as to how this could be achieved.
SEPA has tried to work with them for many years, the deadline for compliance with the notice was agreed and yet the requirements were still not met.
"We want to make it very clear that SEPA will work with individuals and companies to ensure that they understand their environmental responsibilities.
"However, where the law is routinely broken or ignored we will not shy away from taking appropriate enforcement action."
– Karen Ellis, Investigating Officer, SEPA
“This case demonstrates that environmental crime is taken seriously in Scotland.
"SEPA, along with our partners in the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and Scottish Government, is working hard to ensure that no-one profits from breaking regulations that are designed to protect and improve the environment for the whole country.
“The Scottish Government’s Environmental Crime Taskforce, which I chair, has been looking into the use of the Proceeds of Crime Act in cases like this one and I’m pleased that a SEPA investigation has led to the first Confiscation Order for an environmental crime in Scotland.
"I hope this will send out the strongest possible message to those who routinely choose to operate illegally – we are watching you and we will make sure that crime does not pay.”