Proposals to axe 10 sheriff courts

The Scottish Court Service is seeking to close 10 sheriff courts around the country in a bid to save money.

Proposals delivered to ministers also recommend phasing in further changes to hold sheriff and jury cases at just 16 sheriff courts around Scotland.

The plans would also see the closure of seven justice of the peace courts.

The courts service said the proposals were “stark” but “proportionate”. However, opponents have maintained that they will limit access to justice.

The recommendations, if adopted by ministers and approved by MSPs, would see the closure of 10 of the existing 49 sheriff courts in Scotland, including Stonehaven.

Local polticians have called for a rethink of the move to shut the Stonehaven buuilding.

Opponents are concerned about the increased demand a closure would put on Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Scottish Court Service chief executive Eric McQueen said there needed to be changes in the way they operated and delivered their services.

If given the go-ahead, the closures would come into effect between November this year and January 2015.

Other provisions would see sheriff and jury cases heard at just 16 sheriff courts on the mainland and five island courts on Lerwick, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Lochmaddy and Portree.

This would mean that if the proposed 10 sheriff court closures are approved, just 21 courts from the remaining 39 in Scotland would deal with sheriff and jury cases.

The Scottish Court Service proposes that these be phased in over the next 10 years.