Hypocrisy over closures

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While it is regrettable to see local courts being forced to close due to current budget constraints, it is disappointing to view the hypocrisy of local Lib Dems and Tories over the issue.

The planned cutbacks are, as everyone is aware, the direct result of the Scottish budget having been slashed by the Tory-led Government in Westminster. It would be far more appropriate to vent any anger about the issue towards Messrs Osborne and Alexander who are culpable.

Local MSP Christine Grahame has faced a very difficult task in dealing with the matter through her convenership of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee, and has had to make the choice between closing buildings and maintaining essential services, jobs and legal aid entitlement. It should be noted that in England, under the Tory/Lib Dem Government, far more courts are being closed, as well as rights to civil legal aid being reduced.

Fortunately, in Scotland the worst excesses of the current Westminster austerity programme are being managed as sensitively as possible.

The courts will, of course, continue sitting at locations in the Borders, with the prospect of a new, custom-built justice centre in Galashiels being the subject of a feasibility study. Instead of the negativity being shown by the opposition parties in Holyrood, it would be far more helpful to the communities that they claim to support if they were to engage more positively in the process and help develop a modern court system which is able to cope with the demands of the 21st- century, rather than by being just concerned with Victorian buildings that are no longer fit for purpose.

Crocodile tears being shed simply to score political points will fool nobody and only detract from the reforms that are necessary, not only due to budget constraints, but also, more importantly, to actually improve the service.

Marshall Douglas

Innerleithen