July 30, 2014
In just over three months, around 400 people – some policy makers but mainly those who are active within their rural communities – are expected to descend on Oban to convene Scotland’s first Rural Parliament. The overarching aim of the Rural Parliament is to provide a new platform and a stronger voice for Scotland’s rural communities. Over the past few months the organisers have been taking soundings around the country as to what the big themes of the first Rural Parliament should be. Last week these themes were announced.
The themes have been identified through a survey conducted with over 1,000 people from across rural Scotland and they will be examined by people from rural communities and decision-makers at the Scottish Rural Parliament in November.
The themes are confirmed to be:
• Rural businesses and employment
• Land use, planning and land reform
• Transport infrastructure
• Protecting our natural assets and adapting to environmental changes
• Broadband and connectivity
• Support for communities to lead with confidence
Although not identified as a main theme, sufficient interest and concern arose through the consultation on the topic of ‘Delivery of health and social care’ that this will be adopted this as a future theme to follow from the first Rural Parliament in November.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said; “My ambition for the Scottish Rural Parliament is to give rural communities a stronger voice and these emerging themes reflect the big issues facing those who live and work in rural Scotland today. It’s great to see the Rural Parliament making progress and the growing number of people getting involved which is key to its future success.”
Chair John Hutchison said; “This is a major step forward in delivering a collective voice for rural Scotland. We’re pleased to have had guidance from so many rural people in setting our themes and can now move ahead to create Scotland’s first Rural Parliament. The themes reflect a broad range of the challenges that are faced by people in rural communities and we will be examining them in some detail before presenting our findings to the Rural Parliament in November.”
The Scottish Rural Parliament will bring together community people and decision-makers from public bodies, NGOs and private bodies, with the aim of improving rural policy and finding better ways of providing services. There are currently local Rural Parliament events taking place all over rural Scotland which can be accessed by the public and which will contribute to the discussion at the Rural Parliament.
The Rural Parliament follows in the footsteps of other European countries where Rural Parliaments have been established for over 20 years and provides a link to this network through the European Rural Parliament.
The first Scottish Rural Parliament will be held in Oban in November 2014 and will bring together 400 people from rural communities and decision making bodies to make recommendations about the best way forward on key themes. These recommendations could be for implementation at a community, local, national or European level. Bookings for the event are opening in August. To attend the event, sign up on the Scottish Rural Parliament website for updates.