9 January 1997 - Concern Grows As Court Case Backlog Mounts

A single trial for non-payment of the Skye bridge tolls held up a whole day of cases at Dingwall Sherrif Court, prompting concerns about the court's ability to cope with the number of cases involving bridge protestors.

An unemployed joiner from Staffin was fined 50 after being found guilty of a single charge of refusing to pay the 4.30 toll over a year ago. The verdict came after a complicated legal debate lasting over four hours.

Local MP Charles Kennedy said "I have become increasingly concerned over the capacity of the local court system to cope with the sheer volume of cases now before it - these proceedings can only be a sign of the things to come."

Protestors, the vast majority of whom come from Skye, have been complaining about the unfairness and cost of having to travel all the way to Dingwall - a round trip of some 200 miles - every time they are due to appear in court. They argue that the Courthouse in Portree, which has recently been renovated, should be used instead.

Meanwhile the number of days the Courthouse is in use has been increased from three to five days a week to try and keep up.

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Copyright © Ray Shields, 1997.

Most recent revision, 9 January 1997.