North-east town’s sheriff court reopens as community hub

Jim Stephen, Jim Douglas , Andrea Brymer,  John Robson
Jim Stephen, Jim Douglas , Andrea Brymer, John Robson

A former sheriff court building has been given a new lease of life as a north-east community hub.

Stonehaven Town Partnership (STP) had worked on transforming the disused sheriff court into a facility which would host different groups.

The building closed in 2014 – but last week the hub was officially opened by STV newsreader and Stonehaven resident, Andrea Brymer.

It will now be used for charities and volunteer groups, as well as start-up businesses, after the partnership took over the building through a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) from the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services (SCTS).

The new project is the latest by the partnership, which formed in 2007. Other schemes it has worked on include the Land Train and the re-establishment of the Tolbooth Museum.

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Jim Stephen, chairman of STP, said: “We had a great turnout even with the bad weather, it went really well. We tried to invite as many volunteer groups as possible.

“It is a great facility for the town.

“The Citizens Advice Bureau, which is our main tenant downstairs, is an important service these days.

“Our next aim now is to use this court room. We are going to put in a multimedia projector, which will be used for corporate events, and we will also offer it for the community council and for the school to use.

“The options for the room are endless – we could end up having kids’ birthday parties in here.

“It has been five years since the building was shut down by the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services, it was sitting empty for four with nothing happening and the building was starting to deteriorate.

“It was starting to get really shabby so to see it now it is just fantastic.

“To see it all painted and people using it, it has been amazing.

“I am just really chuffed to bits with all the support we have received.

“We are all volunteers and for some it included working day and night to make sure it was ready.”

The asset transfer from SCTS to the STP took place in May last year for a peppercorn payment of £1 after the partnership was able to provide evidence that it would be financially viable.

There was a call after a public consultation that the building should be kept in its present form, with many of the original features remaining.

Funding for the restoration came from loans against the building and grant funding.

Councillor Sarah Dickinson, who represents the area, said: “This is a fantastic facility for the town, I think it’s an amazing effort on the part of the STP.

“This is a big project and to be bold enough to take it on and to have the grit and determination to take it on, it is no small feat.

“They should be congratulated for their hard work and I am delighted for them.”