PROPOSALS for a central justice facility in Galashiels have come under fire.
The justice committee at the Scottish Parliament heard evidence from Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Court Service, this week on proposed court closures.
And he revealed a feasibility study will be considered, regarding the creation of a justice centre, which could serve the whole of the Borders.
However, local solicitor Rory Bannerman slammed the suggestions. He told the Hawick News: “Local courts for local people is what we require. The idea of shutting courts and creating a central system is bad for clients who all have to travel.”
He added: “It appears that such an idea has fiscal policy rather than the interests of Borderers at its core and must be a concern for all court users.”
Peebles and Duns Sheriff Courts are currently proposed for closure.
It is understood meetings are due to take place next month where the idea of a justice centre will be discussed.
Teries currently make use, predominantly, of Jedburgh and Selkirk Sheriff Courts.
But this would mean additional travelling time should the early discussions over a central justice centre bear fruit.
Tracey Logan, Scottish Borders Council’s chief executive, said: “The council is aiming to protect local access to justice and we are actively working with the Scottish Court Service to achieve this.
“One option is a proposal to develop a state-of-the-art Borders justice centre and we are setting up a joint project to consider feasibility and options.”
However, as well as Mr Bannerman, the proposals have also come under fire from Hawick MSP John Lamont.
He said: “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 will only lead to a further restriction on access to our courts and will cause further delays in an already overburdened system.”