Court closure: Good or bad?

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THE NEWS that Arbroath Sheriff Court could be set for closure has been met with a mixed reaction.

On Friday it was announced that the Scottish Court Service is proposing to close the town’s court with all cases transferring to Forfar Sheriff Court.

The plans have now gone out to consultation as the service is looking to reduce the number of courts throughout Scotland.

It was initially thought that Forfar Sheriff Court would be the facility in Angus to close but recently fears have been raised about the threat of closure at Arbroath, which was confirmed on Friday.

And with many solicitors and other legal professionals based in the area around the High Street where the court is situated, there are concerns the town centre might suffer a drop in business.

Angus MP Mike Weir said: “The proposed closure of Arbroath Sheriff Court could have a significant impact on the town and it is important that we have a clear idea of how the town and business would be affected.”

While Angus South MSP Graeme Dey raised his concerns.

He added: “Ideally I would want to see Arbroath retained.

“The existence of the court in the town clearly brings economic benefit, and jobs could potentially be under threat because of these proposals.”

Steve Middleton, a Brechin solicitor who is the Dean of the Faculty in Angus, has already said he wants to see Arbroath Sheriff Court retained.

And as reported by the Herald earlier this month, local solicitors including Shield and Kyd and Boyle’s Solicitors believed closing the town’s court would be a bad move.

Although the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has confirmed no jobs at the court will be lost if the proposal goes ahead as staff will transfer to Forfar.

However, many other local people have spoken out saying the closure of the court on the High Street would be a positive thing for Arbroath.

The Herald Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people who believe the move would actually boost High Street business, as court users would not gather outside the building near to the post office.

The majority commenting on the story feel the High Street would be a safer place to shop and that the lack of prison transport vans would enhance the town’s reputation.

And MSP Mr Dey acknowledged that local people might see the closure of the court as something that would benefit the town.

He explained: “I am entirely aware, however, of the feelings many High Street shopkeepers and members of the public have in relation to the impact of court users gathering outside the building.

“It is a fact that older people in particular feel intimidated at times.

“We need to consider not only the potential impact on court-related employment in Arbroath, but also how it will affect the delivery of justice in the town and the surrounding areas.”

The consultation period on the proposal will run until Friday, December 21 and those wishing to respond should visit