A RETIRED sheriff who presided over the Cupar court for 12 years has weighed into the debate surrounding its threatened closure by describing the move as a ‘retrograde and short-sighted step’.
George Evans, who lives in Ceres, has written a lengthy letter to the Fife Herald this week in support of the campaign to retain the court, which is earmarked for closure as part of a money-saving exercise by the Scottish Court Service.
Having sat in Glasgow for more than half his 26-year career, Sheriff Evans says that ‘small is beautiful’ and that country courts like Cupar have many advantages over those in the city in terms of flexibility and continuity of approach, especially in sensitive proceedings such as child welfare hearings.
“I hope the Scottish Courts administration will think again and try to make savings elsewhere,” he says.
“The case for continuing with small country courts is very strong despite the bureaucrats’ strong pull towards centralisation and economies of size.
“I hope the people of North East Fife will continue to rally to the support of their local sheriff court in the short time available to them before any final decision is made.
“The joint aspects of flexibilty and continuity of approach from there being one and one only resident sheriff lead, I believe, to a consistency and efficiency that are conducive to the greater ends of justice. I felt privileged to be that sheriff for so long and would hate to think that my former job is now viewed as redundant history.”
Cupar is one of several smaller courts in Scotland that could face the axe under the proposed shake-up, and the Scottish Courts Service is currently holding a public consultation into its proposals.
Meanwhile a number of prominent local legal and political figures, including north east Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell, have launched a petition calling for the court’s retention, a copy of which is available to sign in the Fife Herald office amongst other outlets.
To take part in the public consultation, which closes on December 21, visit www.scotcourts.gov.uk.
n You can read Sheriff Evans’ letter in full on page 16.