PLANS to downgrade Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court have been slammed by councillors who claim the move will have an adverse impact on Fife citizens.
But they believe decisions on the future of court services in Fife – which also include the closure of Cupar Sheriff Court – have already been made, despite the Scottish Court Service (SCS) claiming it is still consulting on proposals.
Under the plans, all sheriff and jury trials in Fife will be held at Dunfermline – despite the Kirkcaldy court being the busier of the two.
Last year, 65 jury trials were held at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, with only 23 at Dunfermline, while there were 178 indictments at Kirkcaldy compared to just 91 at Dunfermline.
Council leader Alex Rowley said the impact on Fifers – as jurors, witnesses, court officials, police officers, social workers and the accused – would be significant in terms of increased travel, costs and inconvenience.
He said: “We are absolutely opposed to what is being proposed.”
Councillor Judy Hamilton (Labour, Kirkcaldy Central) questioned whether Dunfermline would be able to cope, but she was told the SCS believed Dunfermline had sufficient capacity and better facilities for witnesses and victims in terms of keeping them separate from the accused.
Councillor Bryan Poole (Independent, Cupar) said efforts to persuade the SCS to change its plans “seem to be in vain” as indications suggested that wasn’t going to happen.
Fife Council will still respond to the consultation, highlighting concerns for women travelling to give evidence in domestic or sexual abuse cases, and children involved in court proceedings.