An MSP has described the proposals to close Sheriff Courts in Scotland as an “attack” on the rural community way of life.
Speaking at Monday night’s meeting in Stonehaven to discuss a strategy for saving the Sheriff Court, MSP Alison McInness said she was concerned with the impact the closure of the court would have on the town.
She said: “All of these court closures are in small rural communities, and it seems to me the government does not care very much about small rural communities. This is this is an attack on our way of life.”
Her comments came during the meeting as members of the local community gathered to discuss the plans and try to come up with a way to save the court.
Its importance t to the town was discussed at the meeting, not just in terms of the financial implications of having the building in Stonehaven, but also the historical significance.
Local community council member and hstory enthusiast, Phil Mills-Bishop, explained that the Scottish parliament passed a law to establish Stonehaven Court in 1600, which was approved by the Westminster parliament following the Union of Crowns in 1603.
Stonehaven’s status was reaffirmed by an Act of the English Parliament in 1611.
Mr Mills-Bishop believed this meant that there were some questions as to whether the current Scottish Government could close the court.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While the act of 1600 did provide for Stonehaven Sheriff Court, this has been superseded by the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1971, which allows minsters to make orders setting out or varying the locations of Scottish Sheriff Courts.”
The history of the Sheriff Court was also discussed at the meeting.
MSP Lewis Macdonald, who arranged the meeting, said the court was there for “good reason” and it should not be closed.
He added: “This 400-year-old Sheriff Court should remain.”
All four MSPs who attended the meeting; Alison McInness, Lewis Macdonald, Nigel Don and Alex Johnston were united in their belief that the court should be saved, and urged those in attendance at the meeting to help them “build a case” against the proposed closure.
They encouraged the community to send their evidence to The Justice Committee who called for evidence on the impact the Court closures would have.
Evidence should be submitted electronically (preferably in word processing format i.e. microsoft word or apple pages) by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copy written submissions should be sent to: Justice Committee Clerks, Room T2.60, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP. All submissions should be made before midday on Tuesday, May 21.
They were also encouraged to email members of the Justice Committee individually asking for them to not support the closure plans.