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December 2, 2015

And the host town for 2016 is…

Just over a year ago, Oban hosted what was probably the largest gathering of rural communities ever seen, along with an array of other rural interests. Scotland’s first ever Rural Parliament was hailed a success and much has happened since then.  An Action Plan was published and last week a Rural Summit was convened to take stock on progress.  The First Minister attended and reiterated the Government’s support for rural Scotland having a much stronger voice on a national stage. She also applauded the slightly surprise choice of venue for the 2016 Rural Parliament.


Scottish Rural Action

Scottish Rural Action announced yesterday at the rural summit that the bid to host the second Rural Parliament for Scotland has been won by Brechin, Angus and will take place on 6th-8th October 2016.

It is anticipated that over 400 people will gather in Brechin for the three-day event which will develop and agree an action plan for rural Scotland as well as celebrating the strengths and achievements of rural communities.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said “Rural Parliaments have the potential to transform rural society, helping people to be more empowered, more resilient and better connected. Much has been achieved since Scotland’s first Rural Parliament in Oban last November and it is crucial that we maintain momentum. That is why I am delighted to confirm that the second meeting of Scotland’s Rural Parliament will take place in Brechin late next year, and I urge everyone across rural Scotland to get involved between now and then.”

On winning the bid to host the event out of nineteen applicants, which was submitted and led by Angus Council, the newly appointed Chair of the local liaison group for the event Derek Harper said “It’s a real privilege and honour that Brechin was chosen as host for the next SRP. Excitement and enthusiasm has been growing since we got the news. To deliver a prestigious event in our new community campus personally fills me with great pride and delivers a huge boost to our local economy. This a great opportunity for Brechin and Angus to shine and we look forward to welcoming delegates from all over Scotland next October.”

The Rural Parliament meets every two years and brings together the people of rural Scotland and policy makers to address rural issues. A series of smaller events are planned across Scotland in the run up to the Rural Parliament which will feed into the discussion and debate at the event itself. Caledonian MacBrayne will be sponsoring both the national event and the smaller events held on islands off the west coast of Scotland.

Scottish Rural Action (SRA) is the organisation charged by Scottish Government with developing the Rural Parliament. Co-Chair John Hutchison said “The Scottish Rural Parliament will be a community-led process culminating in an event every two years. Our aim is to give rural communities the opportunity to present a collective voice to decision-makers and to develop their own plans and activities. Encouraging discussion and debate over the next few months, leading up to November, will be an important part of that. We are very pleased that Brechin will be hosting the national event and look forward to working with CalMac and other sponsors again in 2016.”

The host town and the surrounding area of Angus will have an opportunity to showcase their finest local produce, talent, community and enterprise projects to the delegates. Scottish Rural Action have identified the new community campus in Brechin as the primary venue for the event.

Award-winning ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), has been confirmed as the primary commercial sponsor for the 2016 event following on from their sponsorship in 2014. CalMac has a long established record of supporting community-based events across its network including the Royal National Mòd, the Stornoway-based Hebridean Celtic ( HebCelt ) and Tiree Music festivals, the Colonsay Book Festival and Cumbrae Country and Western Festival.

Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac Ferries, said “We were delighted to be able to sponsor the first ever rural parliament in Oban and had no hesitation in offering to support the event in 2016. The 2014 event was a great success, giving us an unrivalled opportunity to engage with a wide cross-section of people who share our empathy for rural and remote communities, as well as highlight our desire to work with others to address the challenges these communities face.”