Vital demands from Stranraer ‘Parliament’

Host MSP Finlay Carson at Holyrood launch of Rural Parliament report with Rural Action's Chief Executive Emma Cooper
Host MSP Finlay Carson at Holyrood launch of Rural Parliament report with Rural Action's Chief Executive Emma Cooper

The end result of the Scottish Rural Parliament session in Stranraer last year is a set of demands for ‘equal rights’ and resources for countryside areas such as Dumfries and Galloway.

Scottish Rural Action has published key findings from the third Scottish Rural Parliament during an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament at which MSPs from all parties were invited to pledge to ‘Speak Up for Rural Scotland’. The exhibition was followed by an evening reception sponsored by Finlay Carson MSP, constituency MSP for the 2018Rural Parliament host town.

The Rural Parliament took place in November and brought 400 people working, volunteering and representing rural communities together with policy makers and influencers to explore solutions to rural challenges. Contributions during the event from more than 50 workshops have now been analysed and Scottish Rural Action have published a set of “Rural Asks” including that more decision-making should be carried out at a local level, and more services should be delivered at a local level.

There was consensus that rural people believe there are a wide range of issues on which their voices are not heard and needs not met by the public and private sector. It is generally believed that urban needs are prioritised because more people live there.”

Said a Rural Action spokesperson: “There needs to be a transparent, formalised and obligatory process for identifying rural-urban tensions and needs within the policy-making process. Rural communities require support and information in understanding how public sector decisions are made and if, and how, those decisions balance rural and urban needs.

“The rural voice needs to be heard on issues which are key to the future and sustainability of rural communities. Too often the rural voice is often not present in the room when policy is being agreed.”

Emma Cooper, chief executive of Scottish Rural Action, said: “While the Rural Parliament covered a very broad range of topics and challenges, there were clear overarching themes and asks from rural Scotland that primarily relate to equality, inclusivity and knowledge sharing. “