Angus MP Mike Weir has voiced his strong concerns over suggestions that Forfar Sheriff Court might close, stating Brechin would be hit by its closure.
The suggestion, which comes in a consultation paper from the Scottish Courts Service, would see business transferred to Dundee Sherrif Court.
Mr Weir worked for many years as a solicitor in Angus prior to his election to Parliament and is a former Dean of the Society of Procurators and Fiscals in Angus. He stresses, however, that the loss of the court is not only a concern for local solicitors but could have huge implications for local people and businesses.
“It is a matter of huge concern that the SCS are even thinking of closing Forfar Sheriff Court,” he explained. “Such a move would cause a great many problems not only for the legal profession in the area but for the people of Forfar and the surrounding area who would have to go to Dundee for any legal services.
“This is not just a matter of criminal cases, but also of all civil cases and also such matters as winding up relatives estates.
“As a matter of principal I believe that services should remain as much as possible in local communities. This suggestion would lead to a centralisation of services.
“Whilst it is undoubtedly an attempt to save money this must be balanced against the needs of local communities and the additional costs that would be put on individuals who use, and agencies who require to be at, the courts.
“It is not only the town of Forfar that would be affected but the towns of Kirriemuir and Brechin and the surrounding areas all of whom are served by Forfar Sheriff Court.
“Many would find it very difficult to get to Dundee in time for a court appearance at 10 am if they were relying on public transport.
“I would urge everyone in the area served by Forfar Sheriff Court, both individuals and businesses, to think carefully about how the closure of the court might affect them.
“I would stress these appear to be the initial thoughts of the Scottish Courts Service and are subject to consultation, they are not a done deal.
“We must ensure that as many people and businesses in the area as possible make strong representations during the consultation on the effect of such a closure on our local communities and strongly argue for the retention of the court.”