Jury out on court’s future

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Critics of the closure of Arbroath Sheriff Court are asking where the cash will come from to transform the building into a suggested museum.

As reported in last week’s Herald, Angus South MSP Graeme Dey and Angus MP Mike Weir said they had sought assurances from the Scottish Courts Service that the building would not stand unused once it closes for court business in May 2014.

And they suggested that a community asset transfer could see the facility used as an attraction to celebrate the town’s history.

But several figures have spoken out against the idea saying that with government cuts affecting all sectors of society, they can’t see where the funds would come from to finance the idea.

Angus Liberal Democrat Councillor David May said: “Angus Council have recently closed their museums on Monday of each week, cut back on the meals on wheels service, proposed huge increases to bowling clubs and cuts on play parks equipment, so where is the money to come from to pay for the two SNP politicians ideas?”

His views were echoed by businessman Derek Wann, who even travelled to Edinburgh recently to protest about sheriff court closures at the Scottish Parliament.

He added: “A quick online search shows that it cost £425,000 to refurbish the Signal Tower Museum.

“With that in mind, how much would it cost to turn a larger building from a courthouse into a museum starting from scratch? Who would be the lead partner? Where would the money come from?

“I have little doubt that Angus Council would be landed with it, but as we have seen, they don’t even have the cash to do the traditional flower displays, and important front line services such as meals on wheels are being drastically cut.

“That is before we even look at ongoing staffing and maintenance costs in the future.”

Meanwhile readers have also been sending in their suggestions of what the building could be used for.

Jill Beaton suggested: “I think the building could be refurbished and turned into a lovely hotel. Arbroath is in need of hotels to keep up with the amount of tourists that flock to our town. I really don’t think a museum or an art centre would have the effect needed for this failing town.”

And Robert Mathewson added: “This would make an ideal registrars office and a perfect setting for marriage ceremonies, at least a photo would have a decent background.”