Plans to close all Borders sheriff courts

Campaigners are bidding to save Duns Court.
Campaigners are bidding to save Duns Court.

The Borders could be left with no sheriff courts at all if Scottish Court Service plans to replace them with a justice centre in Galashiels are put into action.

The news comes as a further blow to the region following proposals made public earlier this year to close courts in both Duns and Peebles.

That would have left Selkirk and Jedburgh as the only two open for business but now their fate is also hanging in the balance.

According to the courts service’s chief executive, Eric McQueen, the plans will be discussed at a meeting next week.

Borders MP Michael Moore, Berwickshire MSP John Lamont and South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume are all concerned about these latest moves, coming just days after the Scottish Government approved the next stage in the process of shutting Duns and Peebles.

Mr Hume visited Duns on Friday to stage a protest against its closure where he urged residents to get behind his petition to save it.

He commented: “People will rightly be questioning the SNP’s commitment to our rural areas like the Borders when we’re seeing yet another vital local service being ripped out of the heart of our communities.

“I want as many people as possible to get in touch and sign my petition against this appalling attack on our local justice system.”

Reacting to the court service’s latest proposals which stand to leave not just Berwickshire but the whole Borders region without any courts, Borders MP Michael Moore commented: “These comments were surprising given that I have been in correspondence with both the Justice Minister and the Scottish Courts Service about any plans they might have to close local courts and not once have they mentioned a proposal to open a new justice centre for the whole of the Borders,”

“I know that local solicitors and many of my constituents will be concerned to hear this.

“It would amount to a very significant change.”

John Lamont MSP added: “This is a thoroughly disappointing statement from the Scottish Courts Service, and shows that despite having already shut half of the courts in the Borders they are still looking to close more.

“This news will come as a bombshell to the many local residents who were already deeply concerned about the impact these proposals could have.”

The court structure in the Borders was last looked at the turn of the millennium and former Berwickshire MSP Euan Robson said the issues that arose then are still apparent now.

“We have lost local justice. It’s bad for Berwickshire and it’s most regrettable.

The eastern part of the borders requires to have a court so justice is seen to be dispensed locally.”