Rural Scotland urged to ‘Take Action’ at Scottish Rural Parliament

Organisers of the 2018 Scottish Rural Parliament have urged community groups, organisations and activists to make sure their voice is heard by attending this year’s ‘critically important’ event.


Convening in three weeks’ time in Stranraer, organisers say there has never been a more important time for rural Scotland to speak up.  The full programme has now been launched with a theme of ‘Taking Action’.


The theme has been developed to empower rural Scotland in the face of unprecedented constitutional, structural and funding changes.


Emma Cooper, Chief Executive of Scottish Rural Action, the organisation that runs the Scottish Rural Parliament, said:

There has never been a more important time for rural Scotland to come together to speak with one, powerful voice.  Whatever your views on leave or remain, Brexit will result in unprecedented change in Scotland’s rural areas.  It is critically important for rural Scotland to organise and take action to prepare for these changes. 
“We are inviting delegates from rural communities and rural organisations to join us next month.  The Rural Parliament programme has been designed to empower delegates to take action in their own communities to prepare for the changes Brexit will bring.  Our goal is to encourage rural Scotland to influence decision makers during this period of change.  To that end, delegates at the Rural Parliament will contribute directly to a post-Brexit policy statement that will be presented to Michael Russell MSP during the event.
“Every community in Scotland will be affected by Brexit, with rural areas particularly exposed.  With the ongoing uncertainty over the Irish border arrangements it is fitting that we are meeting in Stranraer, a town that may yet be facing an EU border on its doorstep.”


The Scottish Rural Parliament is a multi-day event focused on participatory democracy, allowing grassroots organisations to share their ideas and opinions.  Rural communities, businesses and organisations are expected to be disproportionately affected by Brexit and the ongoing uncertainty over post-Brexit arrangements.  The potential disruption to rural policy and funding structures will be examined at the Rural Parliament.


Speakers will include Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Mairi Gougeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Colin Smyth MSP, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Connectivity and Transport, Andy Wightman MSP, Scottish Green Party Spokesperson for Communities, Land Reform and Local Government, Robin McAlpine, Director of the Common Weal think tank and journalist and commentator Ruth Wishart.


Peter Ross, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway’s Leader Action Group who are co-hosting the event said:

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the Scottish Rural Parliament to Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway.  When we bid to host this event we knew that Brexit and its impact on rural Scotland would be a major theme, but we could never have anticipated that such uncertainty would remain at this late stage.
“As we enter the final weeks of planning for the Rural Parliament we still don’t know whether we will see a customs border in the Irish Sea.  For communities like Stranraer that uncertainty is deeply concerning.  Rural Scotland must begin planning in earnest for a post-Brexit world, and the concerns of rural communities and organisations must be communicated to those with influence to shape post-Brexit policy.  That is what this Rural Parliament is about and that it why this event is so critically important.”

The Scottish Rural Parliament takes place from 14-16 November in Stranraer in south west Scotland.  For more information and details of the programme visit www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk


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