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Crumbling court buildings need £7 million worth of repairs

Crumbing court buildings across Scotland require more than £7.3 million worth of repairs, the Scottish Conservatives can reveal.

This maintenance work required to fix the likes of leaky roofs, ceilings and damp was revealed in a freedom of information response from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

The cost of the repairs equates to almost the entire £8 million capital budget of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service – so there’s no guarantee that all the ‘essential’ maintenance will go ahead.

That capital budget was £5 million less than the £13 million the SCTS had requested from the SNP Government.

The Scottish Conservatives previously revealed how the courts were told by the SNP that justice was no longer a priority – and this is manifesting itself in the dilapidated court buildings that risk being forced to close, causing delays to trials.

Jamie Greene, the Scottish Conservatives’ justice spokesman, slammed the SNP for short-changing our court service and warned that a failure to carry out the repair work risked the enormous backlog of court cases growing even larger.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice Jamie Greene MSP, said: “The shocking scale of repair work required to keep our courts safe and habitable should set alarm bells ringing for the SNP Government.

“The court service requested more capital funds to address this maintenance backlog – but they were ignored and short-changed to the tune of £5 million by ministers.

“We already knew that justice was not a priority for the SNP, and now we’re seeing the consequences of their neglect – potential court delays because essential maintenance to keep them open cannot be carried out due to lack of funds.

“There are tens of thousands of trials outstanding in Scotland’s courts, leaving victims of crime waiting years for justice. This number could get even larger if the state of our courts is not addressed as a matter of urgency.

“Clearing this backlog will help victims get the swifter justice they deserve, but the SNP must provide the courts funding needed to make this a reality.”

Notes

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service have £7.3 million worth of repairs that need to be carried out on its estate. A freedom of information response from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed that there are £7,316,279.31 worth of repairs that need to be carried out on court buildings in Scotland as of 13 July 2022. (SCTS FOI, 15 August 2022, Attached).

These include roof and ceiling repairs as well as fixing damp. Repairs are needed for many different things on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service estate but there is £38,000 set aside for roof repairs at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, £300,000 for roof works at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, £10,000 for ceiling repairs at Lochgilphead Justice of the Peace Court and £50,000 for damp repairs at Wick Sheriff Court. (SCTS FOI, 15 August 2022, Attached).

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service’s entire capital budget is just £8 million. The capital budget is used for vital upgrades and other investments that the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service need to make. However, the backlog of repairs alone nearly makes up the entire budget with the value of repairs costing at least 90% of the entire capital budget, leaving little room for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to make other investments that are needed outside the maintenance of its estate. There are also two other upgrades listed in the maintenance backlog which have yet to be costed, meaning the backlog value could grow even further. (Scottish Budget 2022-23, 9 December 2021, Table 8.13, link; SCTS FOI, 15 August 2022, Attached).

This was £5 million less than they requested, meaning ‘essential’ maintenance may not go ahead. In order to address this large repair backlog, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service requested a £13 million capital budget. They described an £8 million budget as a ‘baseline’ and said that a further £3 million was needed for ‘essential capital maintenance’ with a further £2 million for digital acceleration. However, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service received just £8 million, the baseline budget. (SCTS FOI, 8 February 2022, Attached).

The courts were told by the SNP Government that the justice portfolio was no longer a priority. A freedom of information response from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service revealed they were told ‘we have not received any indications from Scottish Government other than Justice is no longer a priority work stream in 2022-23’. (SCTS FOI, 8 February 2022, Attached).