February 12, 2014
Oban to play host
If you live in rural Scotland and have an active interest in community affairs you might want to put 6th – 8th November 2014 in your diary. Oban has been chosen to host Scotland’s inaugural Rural Parliament with the main venue for the event being the much acclaimed, community run Atlantis Leisure Centre. It’s anticipated that 400 delegates will descend on Oban over the three days of the Parliament with other venues across the town being brought into use. Plenty of opportunities in the coming months to shape the Parliament’s programme. See here for details
The first meeting of the Scottish Rural Parliament will take place in Oban. Around 400 delegates are expected to give the west Highland capital a late year boost when they arrive for the three-day event in November.
Oban-based Councillor Duncan MacIntyre, policy lead for economic development said: “This is fantastic news. Obanisona high just now and anything like this adds to it.
“Oban is the right place to have the Scottish Rural Parliament and I am fully supportive of it.”
He was referring to last week’s announcement that Oban is to benefit from a £18.9million infrastructure project that could bring in £125million in private investment and create hundreds of construction jobs.
The money is through the Tax Incremental Financing system through which councils can pay for infrastructure projects by borrowing against the future business rate income from new development.
The Scottish Government announced its backing last year for the Scottish Rural Parliament. The management group with responsibility for taking it forward has formed a company called Scottish Rural Action, with the sole purpose of developing and organising Scotland’s first Rural Parliament.
Chairman of Scottish Rural Action, John Hutchison, said: “The aim of the Rural Parliament is to provide an opportunity for rural communities to share issues and consider solutions to the challenges they face. It is a chance to meet people from other rural communities and decision makers, debate ideas and share best practice.
“Ultimately it is about rural communities having an opportunity to present a collective voice to Government. There is at present no other mechanism for doing this.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The establishment of a Rural Parliament in Scotland has been a long held ambition of mine, and I am delighted that the very first meeting will be held in Oban in November.
“Rural Parliaments work well in other European countries, giving rural communities and businesses a stronger voice in policy making and an opportunity to celebrate all that is good about living and working in rural areas.
“I would urge everyone across rural Scotland to take advantage of the opportunity to be involved in shaping the content, remit, agenda and themes of our nation’s very first Rural Parliament and make it a success.”
Argyll and Bute Council’s area committee for Oban Lorn and the Isles will discuss arrangements for the historic gathering at its meeting on Wednesday.
This will include debating making the Corran Halls in Oban available to the organisers free of charge for the duration of the event.