Polititians, legal professionals and members of the public gathered in Stonehaven this week to try to save the Sheriff Court.
A public meeting was held to discuss the issue of the potential court closure and around 80 members of the public attended to find out what they could do to secure its future within the town.
Local MSPs were at the meeting to give their views and a number of experts also attended to make their arguments for the court’s retention.
Stonehaven solicitor, Graham Garden, who is Kinnear and Falconer’s court partner, kicked-off proceedings and told those in attendance that he “despaired of the plans,” not only as a solicitor but also as a resident of the town.
He described Aberdeen Sheriff Court as “unsatisfactory” and voiced his concerns about the delay on cases which moving business to Aberdeen Sheriff Court could cause. In particular, he highlighted the court’s inability to deal with family cases and said conditions in Aberdeen Sheriff Court often “exacerbated” matters.
In particular, he voiced his worry that solemn cases - those relating to the most serious offences - would face delays.
He also said that he was “concerned” by the figures released by the Scottish Court Service (SCS).
He voiced concerns over the SCS decision to not take the new development at Elsick into account when making the recommendation.
Other experts attending the meeting including former sheriffs, a representative from the Public and Commercial Services Union and members of the community.
They all voiced concerns about the ability of Aberdeen Sheriff Court to deal with the workload, loss of local justice, loss of an amenity in the town and the SCS maintenance backlog. There was alsodiscussion about whether closing the court would save any money at all.
The MSPs present encouraged all to get involved and reply to the Justice Committee’s plea for evidence and contact individual committee members asking them to annul the order so that it wil be discussed by the full Scottish parliament.