FIRST RURAL PARLIAMENT CLOSES WITH CALL FOR DEMOCRATIC RENEWAL
Scottish Rural Parliament
Scotland’s first Rural Parliament has closed with a call for action to achieve a more empowered, connected and sustainable rural Scotland. And delegates agreed to ask the Scottish Government to commit to a national conversation on local democratic renewal as a first step towards radical reform of local government that will bring power much closer to communities.
More than 400 delegates attended over the three days of the Rural Parliament, and in the final session agreed by an overwhelming majority that the Rural Parliament should continue, with the next full session taking place in 2016. Bids to host that event will be invited from rural communities, and there will be a smaller meeting with Scottish Ministers in 2015 to take stock of progress on the issues discussed in Oban.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“Scotland’s first Rural Parliament has been a fantastic event and I very much appreciate all of the effort that has gone into making it such a success. This was one of the largest rural grassroots gatherings ever held in Scotland and it has been a real privilege to join hundreds of activists from across the country for debate and discussion of such exceptionally high quality. I was extremely impressed by their energy and enthusiasm to make rural Scotland prosper and our nation owes them all big thanks for all they do.
“I now look forward to seeing how the work of the Rural Parliament will be taken forward, including informing the work of the Smith Commission and Scotland’s Rural Network, as well any future follow-up events.”
Reflecting on the event, Scottish Rural Parliament Chair John Hutchison said:
“More than 400 people from across rural Scotland gathered in Oban for the first Scottish Rural Parliament, and their overwhelming verdict is that it has been a resounding success. There can be no doubt that the Rural Parliament is here to stay.
“Over three days of debate, conversation and celebration, the participants have made it clear they want a much stronger voice for rural Scotland – and they expect to be listened to.
“Our message to Scottish Governments and other agencies that we want them to support rural communities and the Rural Parliament to decide and deliver more of what they aspire to, including tailored support arrangements for community-led actions.
“Rural communities need national and local governments to get behind their efforts to empower themselves and plan their own futures.
“There was also wholehearted agreement that it is time for a national conversation on local democratic renewal as a first step towards a radical reform of local government that will bring power much closer to local communities.”