Ministers should pursue plans to create a new centre for justice in Kirkcaldy which would serve the wider east Fife area following the closure of Cupar Sheriff Court.
That is the view of Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker, who raised the matter with community safety and legal affairs minister Paul Wheelhouse at Holyrood this week.
Mrs Baker has pointed to the Scottish Court Service’s consultation documents from 2012 that proposed changes to the court system across Scotland, including the closure of several local courts, and highlighted the strength of comments that Kirkcaldy would be a “more appropriate location” for a sheriff and jury centre serving east Fife.
That particular consultation concluded that such a centre was not immediately feasible because the accommodation available at Kirkcaldy was not of the required standard.
However, the Scottish Government announced last month that it would part-fund a new £23 million justice centre in Inverness, to replace the sheriff court, and Mrs Baker sees no reason why a similar scheme would not work in Fife.
“The Scottish Court Service accepted in 2012 that Kirkcaldy was the best place for a justice centre for the east Fife region and with each passing year that case gets stronger and stronger,” she noted.
“Currently Kirkcaldy and the surrounding area are being serviced by a court that has been deemed not fit for purpose.
“We have already seen willingness from the Scottish Government to part-fund such a centre in Inverness.
“They must now come forward with the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and back my calls for such a justice centre in Kirkcaldy.
“In the meantime I will be continuing my campaign for better court services for the kingdom so that justice can be delivered locally in Fife and victims and their families are properly supported and protected during the legal process.”
In response to the question from Mrs Baker, Mr Wheelhouse said that the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service will continue to explore all funding options for further justice centres, including further discussions with Scottish Future Trust for a potential solution for Fife and Lanarkshire.
Local solicitors are understood to be largely supportive of the plans.