The future of Stonehaven Police Station could be in jeopardy if Stonehaven Sheriff Court closes, the Leader has been informed.
Graham Garden, Court Partner at Kinnear & Falconer in Stonehaven said although there are a lot of concerns about the court itself closing, it could also mean the end of the road for the attached police station.
Mr Garden said: “When the court closes, potentially, the building will be disposed of and the Police, I’d assume, won’t want to be attached to whatever it’ll be sold on to be, such as a block of renovated flats.”
“This will mean the officers there would have to move to either Portlethen or Aberdeen, or further south meaning there would be no permanent Police presence in a town the size of Stonehaven.
“Although there would be Police officers on the beat there would be no station and therefore no central point for people to go if they needed Police help.”
“If this was to happen, the five cells in Stonehaven Police Station would be lost meaning anyone required to be held in custody would have to be transported to Aberdeen from this area.
“Having the court there gives more justification for Police presence and I can’t see them disposing of one and not the other.”
Mr Garden also explained that if Stonehaven Sheriff Court was to close, it would be an inconvenience to anyone having to attend court. He said: “Whilst many people might think the closure of the court won’t affect them and that it’s only used for criminals, it’s also a very busy small claims court and there’s always the potential of being called up to take part in jury duty.
“Small claims cases also often mean people will have to take several days off of work and would need to travel to Aberdeen or Forfar for the sake of a relatively small amount of money.
“If for any reason you need to go to court and you don’t drive, getting to Forfar for 10am isn’t easy. Public transport to that area is poor. Imagine what it’ll be like in the middle of winter. The main issue of the court closure would ultimately be getting transport to and from reasonably rural areas. There will be no real problem if they have a car, but there will be a great difficulty if they rely on public transport.”
He also said: “The courts in Aberdeen can’t cope as it is with the number of cases so how they are going to cope I really don’t know.”
A decision will be made on December 21 but prior to that relevant agencies will meet later this month to discuss the potential closure and put forward proposals to prevent Stonehaven Sheriff Court being closed.
Members of the public have been asked to take part in the consultation and Nigel Don MSP said: “The closure of courts such as Stonehaven is not yet a done deal. I urge my constituents to take this chance to make their views known.”
To take part visit www.scotcourts.gov.uk or phone 0131 444 3300.