An organisation set-up to gather and address the concerns of rural Scotland has launched a website, allowing people to submit their views online. It is a key step forward for the Rural Commission, launched earlier in the summer by the Scottish Conservatives.
The site – www.ruralcommission.org – went live on Wednesday and will play a key role over the next two months as the views of people across the country are sought. The consultation, which closes on October 31, will be followed up by a series of oral sessions towards the end of the year, with a final report and recommendations to be submitted in May 2013.
The Commission panel is completely independent, meaning important and challenging issues can be explored away from political influence. Commission chairman Hughie Campbell Adamson, a well-known rural businessman and Scottish Land & Estates member, said:
“The Scottish countryside has shaped our international identity and attracts thousands of visitors. But rural Scotland is more than a place to visit and admire – it is a home and workplace for more than a fifth of our population. That’s why we have identified many topics to be placed in the consultation document, and invite comments from the public on how these could be improved with a different approach. We need to find out what needs to be changed, or maintained, in order to deliver vibrant rural communities. Whether it is a specific concern or just a general observation, all of these suggestions are useful and welcome.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said: “There are a number of challenges facing rural communities across Scotland, from fuel prices to environmental considerations. Local communities cannot exist in a vacuum and have to be supported by a healthy economy. The purpose of this Commission is to look at all aspects of the countryside, and to develop strategies for growth and development of the rural sector”.
“By launching the website, it will make it even easier for the people from all backgrounds to give us their views so we can make a difference to everyday lives.”
Scottish Conservative Rural affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson MSP said:
“The team that has been assembled will play a vital role in coming up with a range of proposals on everything from agriculture to rural tourism.”
“They won’t be afraid to probe ideas that may be challenging, and that is the only way a robust, independent set of recommendations can be tabled for our consideration. Launching a website as a point of contact and as a way for people to submit their thoughts is an important part of that process.”