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A Rural Parliament for Scotland

In May 2011, the SNP manifesto stated the SNP would “take forward proposals for a rural parliament, to enable rural communities to engage more effectively with Government”. Since then, the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) has produced a report on behalf of the Scottish Government highlighting the experiences of countries in Europe which already have rural parliaments and our Regional Manager, Scott Petrie, recently joined circa 110 delegates from across rural Scotland, representing a wide range of sectors at a seminar in Edinburgh on a Rural Parliament for Scotland. As well as being addressed by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead, delegates heard of the experiences of those who have been involved in rural parliaments in other European countries including the Netherlands, Slovenia, Estonia and Sweden. A ‘Rural Parliament’ is not a formal part of government, nor is it a parliament in the sense of a legislative or decision-making body. It is a ‘bottom-up’ process of involvement and debate between the people of rural Scotland and policy makers to enable better understanding, improved policy and action to address rural issues. It influences policy rather than creates it. It is a process which takes place over a two-year period, culminating in a high profile event (called the Rural Parliament) which brings together all sectors of rural society to highlight rural issues and to discuss rural priorities with each other and with Government. They generally from part of a wider ‘rural movement’ often focused on a number of key issues. A seminar report will be produced along with proposals which we will make available in a future edition of e-News. To view the SAC rural parliaments report, please visit http://www.sac.ac.uk/ruralpolicycentre/publs/thrivingcommunitiespublications/ruralparliaments/

 

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