Plea for retention of some court services

Cupar Sheriff Court
Cupar Sheriff Court

Hopes that Cupar can retain some of its judicial functions when the town’s Sheriff Court closes on May 30, are still hang ing in the balance.

Despite “positive” discussions taking place between local councillor Margaret Kennedy and representatives of the Scottish Court Service (SCS) this week, it is still unclear if her pleas to retain some services would be heard.

Councillor Kennedy, who is also convenor of Fife and Forth Valley Community Justice Authority and chair of Fife Council’s safer communities committee, said that with just months to go before the closure, it was important local people knew what plans were being put in place.

Councillor Kennedy went on to say that while she was pleased that video conferencing facilities for vulnerable witnesses would be set up after the transfer of court business to Dundee, she wanted this to be extended to people with ‘complex lifestyle issues’.

She said: “Whilst they didn’t agree to develop this just now their response was positive.”

She has also asked for some form of Sheriff Clerk administration to remain in the long-term and was told this would be considered.

She said: “It is really important that local people will still be able to access services. For many, travel to Dundee is going to be very difficult and the SCS should provide an alternative so everyone has access to justice.

Following the meeting the Fife Herald asked the SCS if it was going to consider Councillor Kennedy’s suggestions.

A statement said: “The Scottish Court Service will continue to work with all organisations to provide the best possible service to those who engage with the courts and court services. While we have no plans to retain a Sheriff Clerks office in Cupar beyond the date of closure, we have been asked if it is possible to provide limited administrative services from Cupar to aid a smooth transition and to consider this.

“We have already been clear in our proposals for court structures that we will provide video link facilities in the vicinity of all closing Sheriff Courts, initially as a facility for vulnerable witnesses and as a platform for the conduct of other types of administrative court business.”

Councillor Kennedy said she would be seeking further clarification from SCS as the statement did not reflect the discussion she had.