SCOTTISH ministers are today being asked to rubber-stamp the closure of Cupar Sheriff Court.
The Scottish Court Service has just published its long-awaited report following a public consultation on the future of Scottish courts and, as was widely feared, Cupar is on the hit-list.
The court will close its doors in May next year and all court business transferred to Dundee, to the dismay of the local legal fraternity.
SCS Chief Executive Eric McQueen said: “The Scottish legal system is about to embark on the most significant changes in well over a century. Civil and criminal justice will be reformed in the coming years following the recommendations arising from the reviews conducted by Lord Gill, Lord Carloway, Sheriff Principal Bowen and the current Victims and Witnesses Bill. These reviews are not simply about a redistribution of existing business, but have implications for how and where court services will be delivered in the future.
“At the same time, public sector funding is under severe pressure. By 2015 the court service running cost budget will reduce by 20% in real terms and the capital budget will reduce from £20m to £4m. There needs to be changes in the way we operate and deliver our services. We have already made substantial savings by reducing staff numbers, reducing sitting court days and streamlining our corporate services, but continuing with these types of cuts simply reduces our ability to deliver a quality court service.
“The recommendations we have made in this report include High Court cases being heard predominately in three dedicated centres, the closure of 10 sheriff courts, including nine co-located Justice of the Peace Courts, the closure of seven Justice of the Peace Courts and a move towards specialist jury centres over a longer 10 year period.
“These recommendations may sound stark but they are proportionate. The volume of business transacted in the sheriff courts recommended for closure is around 5% of the overall court business.”
Full story and reaction in this week’s Fife Herald.