Court closure would be ‘retrograde step’

Douglas Williams
Douglas Williams

LAWYERS and politicians have hit out following fresh rumours Cupar Sheriff Court could be facing closure.

A leaked document from the Scottish Court Service appears to confirm Cupar is under threat as part of cost-cutting measures.

It has been suggested north east Fife business could be transferred to Dundee or Kirkcaldy.

But North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell blasted the plans as ‘seriously retrograde’, while Cupar-based solicitor Douglas Williams urged people to ‘lobby hard’ in support of the court.

Mr Williams, of the St Catherine Street firm Williams Gray Williams, said: “My view is that we need to lobby hard to keep the court.

“Justice must be delivered locally and the loss of the court would have grave economic consequences for the community.”

SUBSTANTIAL

According to Mr Williams, the loss of criminal, civil and commissary work in Cupar would divert a substantial amount of money out of the area.

And he questioned whether Dundee or Kirkcaldy would have room to accommodate the extra business and whether bigger courts would be any cheaper to run.

A move would also, he says, increase inconvenience and expense for witnesses and lead to more people failing to turn up to court.

Sir Menzies, meanwhile, said: “Justice must not only be seen to be done but must be convenient and accessible.

“If these proposals were to be implemented in this and other rural areas the public, the police and lawyers could be seriously inconvenienced.

“The cost of travelling to more central courts would be very considerable in terms of time and financial expense, but the most significant thing would be inconvenience to the public.

“Cupar Sheriff Court has been threatened with closure in the past.

“It would be a seriously retrograde step were that threat to become a reality.”

ANALYSIS

A spokesperson for the Scottish Court Service said: “The Scottish Court Service is facing a future where budget levels will reduce and there will be major service reforms.

“We have initiated a review which looks at what business should be done in different locations around the country.

“As part of our fact finding, we wanted to make sure we fully understood local issues and could take these into account along with other business analysis work we are undertaking.

“It is too soon to speculate on the future of any particular court but any proposal to close a court will require a full public consultation to be undertaken and ultimately a decision by the Scottish Parliament.”