Local authority responds to Stonehaven Court plans

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AT Tuesday’s meeting of Kincardine and Mearns Area committee, Counillors were presented with Aberdeenshire Council’s draft response to the Scottish Courts Service consultation into the future of Court Structure.

In the response, which has been compiled following discussions throughout Aberdeenshire, the local authority objects to the planned closure of Stonehaven Sheriff Court.

One of the issues which Aberdeenshire Council highlights when closing the Court is the potential in the area for new settlements which would increase those needing use of the Court.

The draft response states: “There is a proposed new town in South Aberdeenshire (Elsick) which may increase the volume of court work to Stonehaven Sheriff Court. Stonehaven Sheriff Court currently covers a large geographical area.”

The local authority also questions Aberdeen’s ability to cope with a larger workload and concerns are also expressed over possible delays in cases being heard.

Access to the court and travel is also raised as a concern. The affect on the local economy is also discussed, as those who do business at the Court will no longer spend money in the town.

Questions over the future of the Police Station, should the Court close are also raised by the Council.

Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee Councillors all supported the draft response and were in support of saving Stonehaven Sheriff Court.

They were given the chance to comment on the draft response and to bring up anything in the response which concerned them. They agreed that the response was good and many raised concerns over the potential closure.

Cllr Graeme Clarke expressed concern over the support given following a case in Aberdeen Court. He claimed there are delays in talking to offenders after a case in Aberdeen Court however in Stonehaven there is more support for offenders.

Cllr Clarke also reminded those at the meeting that consultation responses can be put in on an individual basis and urged people to get their views heard.

Cllr Wendy Agnew expressed concern about the police station. She said: “If they did close the court that building would be sold, what will happen to the police station? Will we no longer have a police station in Stonehaven? This worries me, as does the closure of Stonehaven Sheriff Court.”

The deadline for comment on the SCS plans is December 21.