Extra strain will be put on Selkirk’s sheriff court if plans to close the court in Peebles are approved by the Scottish Government, a local MSP has said.
John Lamont said the Scottish Court Service’s final proposal to close Peebles and Duns courts, and move their cases to Selkirk and Jedburgh respectively, was a ‘hugely disappointing decision’.
He added: “It means that a huge amount of pressure will be heaped upon Jedburgh and Selkirk sheriff courts as they have to take on the extra workload created by these closures.
“This will severely hamper our ability to process criminal and civil cases and will inevitably lead to more delays in the system.”
Local solicitor Iain Burke has criticised the planned closures and the consultation on the cost-cutting scheme, claiming the final proposals had remained the same as those put out for consultation last year.
Mr Burke said he was not surprised the ‘pretend’ public consultation had not changed anything, adding: “I think the proposal is very short-sighted and unfair for the local area.”
The increased travel time and costs are also of a concern to Mr Burke, who said these, along with lost court days due to non-appearances, meant the suggested savings behind the closures would not be made.
“The costs are being shuffled around, they are not being saved,” he said.
MSP Jim Hume said reform was needed to “increase efficiency”, but added: “I share the worries of residents and legal professionals that closing Duns and Peebles Sheriff Courts could have a damaging effect on the length of time cases take to be heard.”