Gunn to lead court fight

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SELKIRKSHIRE’S three councillors will unite later this month in a bid to thwart plans to close Selkirk Sheriff Court.

They will echo the demands of the six councillors from the two Tweeddale wards who want Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to deplore any proposal to close Peebles Sheriff Court and are urging Scottish Government intervention to secure its future.

The motions will be considered at the SBC meeting on January 26 after revelations, in a leaked document from the Scottish Court Service (SCS), that the Peebles and Duns courts, which sit on a Wednesday, should close because they are not busy enough. Selkirk, which sits on a Monday and Tuesday, is suggested for closure because it serves a population of less than 20,000 and is within 20 miles of another, bigger court (Jedburgh). It is also the most expensive of the region’s four shrieval centres to maintain.

The SCS faces a 20 per cent funding cut and spends about 40 per cent of its budget on upkeep of courts. Most date from the 19th century.

Selkirkshire SNP councillor Kenneth Gunn believes the history of the Selkirk court, where Sir Walter Scott administered justice two centuries ago, should be taken into account.

His motion, which will be seconded by Tory councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre, calls on SBC to “fight any proposals to close or reduce the work of Selkirk Sheriff Court” and demands an early statement from the SCS that the court “will be maintained and strengthened”.

An SCS spokesman said: “We have initiated a review which looks at what business should be done in different locations around the country.

“When this review is complete, it will be our intention to produce ideas for further discussion and we will want to involve a wide representation of interested groups.

“It is too soon to speculate on the future of any particular court, but any proposal to close a court will require a full public consultation and ultimately a decision by the Scottish Parliament.”