East Lothian Council

Fight to save Haddington Sheriff Court continues

Published Wednesday 8th May 13

Haddington Sheriff Court

Organisations and individuals join forces to oppose proposed closure

Senior officials and elected members of East Lothian Council joined representatives from the county’s legal system, Citizens Advice Bureau, MSPs and MP at a meeting called by the East Lothian Faculty of Procurators on Tuesday evening (7 May) to discuss the proposed closure of Haddington Sheriff Court.

East Lothian Council Leader, Cllr Willie Innes, said afterwards:

“The meeting was attended by elected members, representatives from the local legal community and interested individuals who strongly believe in the importance of retaining Haddington Sheriff Court. A number of concerns raised have apparently been dismissed during the initial consultation which is extremely worrying and the campaign is now centred on providing clear evidence of the importance of retaining this court to the Justice Committee. 

“We heard from a forensic accountant at the meeting that closing the Haddington Court and moving the business to Edinburgh would, far from delivering a saving, result in increased costs to the public purse to the tune of £534,000. Added to this, the Council has estimated the economic impact on the local area at approximately £307,000. 

“East Lothian Council’s Chief Executive, Angela Leitch met with officials of the Scottish Court Service last week (Friday 3 May) and during the discussion she proposed that the Council would be willing to meet the running costs of the court to ensure its continued operation in Haddington.  As the council would face increased staff costs arising from a proposed closure the offer to take on the maintenance and running costs has two major advantages. One, it provides SCS with savings and two, it keeps the court open within East Lothian.

“Part of the SCS report recommending court closures details the preferred ways for court systems to work across Scotland. The West Lothian ‘centre of justice’ model which combines the local authority, police and court within one building is widely held to be an example of best practice. East Lothian Council and partners have demonstrated that this model is closely mirrored in East Lothian with the court and council sharing premises and police within a very short distance yet this appears to have been rejected without explanation. 

“I was encouraged by the information shared by members of the local legal community at this meeting and am hopeful that the Justice Committee will be more responsive to the economic, social and organisational arguments compiled for the retention of Haddington Sheriff Court. As the fastest growing area in Scotland with a population predicted to rise considerably over the next decade it is beyond belief that an essential service be removed from our communities.”

 

 

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East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.