The first business to leave an empty unit in Arbroath High Street blaming the axing of the town’s sheriff court has closed its doors.
Boyles Solicitors at 129 High Street is now empty with a for sale/to let sign above the door.
And now fears have been raised that this could be the start of a town centre exodus as the Court Service prepares for closure of the building in May next year.
A sign in the window of the former Boyles office reads: “With the pending closure of Arbroath Court, Boyles are to centralise their litigation and property departments with their head office in Dundee.
“We will continue to provide our clients with all their legal requirements.”
It then advises to contact their Dundee office and provides a telephone number, email address and website address.
Once closed, all work from Arbroath Sheriff Court will be transferred to the Forfar facility.
A campaign, spearheaded by local solicitor Nick Whelan, was started to retain the court facility as it was feared other businesses surrounding the site may also become affected by the decision.
MSPs rubber-stamped the plans last month and Mr Whelan believes this business leaving the High Street could be a sign of things to come.
He told the Herald: “This is probably just the start of it. The implications are already being felt amongst the profession and there will be many firms now looking to centralise services.
“There will be an impact on the High Street, too, as places like local cafes start to feel the effects as well.”
As well as local businesses on the High Street, one building that will be left empty is the court facility itself.
And with their being no indication of the Scottish Courts Service having sold it yet, Mr Whelan is concerned this may also stand empty.
He added: “With the general decline of the High Street with empty properties, we are going to have another large public building empty.”