MP slams justice secretary for court plans

LOCAL Labour politicians have hit out at the Scottish Government for “walking away from Dumfries and Galloway” as Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has refused to commit to retaining Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court.

The closures are being considered as a result of the SNP government’s 20 percent cuts to the Scottish Court Service budget.

While the Scottish Court Service (SCS) is currently running a consultation, due to end in December, the closure of courts is a matter for Scottish Ministers to place before the Scottish Parliament.

Last month Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown wrote to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill calling on him to commit to retaining the courts. However, in his response Kenny MacAskill refuses to do this, and instead claims that the aim of the proposed closures is to “deliver better access to justice”.

MP Russell Brown said: “The Scottish Government is walking away from Dumfries and Galloway. By refusing to commit to retaining the Sheriff Court in Kirkcudbright and the Justice of the Peace Court in Annan Kenny MacAskill is washing his hands of our area. Once again the SNP forget about Dumfries and Galloway so they can centralise services in the central belt.

“It is frankly laughable for the Mr MacAskill to suggest that closing down courts will ‘deliver better access to justice’. How on earth does shutting the doors on Kirkcudbright court, the only Sheriff court in the 80 miles between Dumfries and Stranraer, make access easier for local people?”