The Scottish Rural Parliament’s Manifesto was published on line earlier this month, after being launched in December at their AGM.
The manifesto was released in draft form ahead of the Rural Parliament in Brechin last October, and delegates at the parliament had the opportunity to propose amendments to the wording, and additions to the content,, before it was overwhelmingly approved by those in
The manifesto is divided into 19 different areas, including rural policing, broadband and connectivity, and arts and culture.
From these, five key areas were prioritised which Scottish Rural Action will take forward and campaign on over the next two years.
These five areas are digital connectivity, land, business, transport and democracy & governance.
Under the broadband area, the manifest notes that “inequity of connectivity leaves our fragile communities behind and excludes many of the one million people living in rural Scotland from participating socially and educationally and excludes them from economic opportunity.”
They are calling for the Scottish Government to redirect resources to quickly facilitate the provision of community/national backhaul, local backbone networks and community hubs to support access networks.
They are also calling for rural communities to be supported through access to specialist advice according to their needs, and for existing rural broadband and initiatives and resources to be coordinated to best respond to requirements and overcome obstacles that currently impede rural broadband
Under democracy, the Rural Parliament is calling for further grass roots debate on local democratic reform, active engagement by the Scottish Government and local councils in the growing movement for change around local democracy, local authorities to respond to all planning objections made by community councils, and for rural communities to work together, and with Scottish Rural Action, to campaign on issues, locally and nationally, of importance to them and develop a powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland.
Under the land section of the manifesto, it states: “We call for rural communities, our government, and other interested and decision-making parties to be brave, honest and open in considering and addressing issues of land ownership, management and usage; to seek to develop more diverse and heterogenous patterns of land ownership; and to keep principles of social and environmental justice at the heart of decision-making.”
Improved integration of timetabling of public transport services was one of the points listed under ‘Transport’ in the manifesto.
Ferry fare reductions, devolution of greater transport budgets and powers to the local levels, extension of rural fuel subsidies to more rural araea and investment in the modernisation of road, rail, air and shipping infrastructures, also featured in the document.
For rural policing, the manifesto said: “The recent police service centralisation has raised questions about its impacts in rural Scotland. Levels of police presence and capacity to address less high profile crimes – such as vandalism, anti-social behaviour and wildlife crime – are perceived in some cases as inadequate. We call for visible, transparent and accountable policing that is sensitive to local priorities and issues.”
The full manifesto can be viewed on the Scottish Rural Parliament’s website, in either English or Gaelic, at www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/manifesto/.
The manifesto is described as a “statement of the collective views of people from across our country”. The Rural Parliament outlined that there is no time limit on the manifesto, and it is anticipated that many of the calls to action and statements within it will be relevant for many years.
Amanda Burgauer, chair of Scottish Rural Action, said: “The manifesto is a statement of the collective views of people from across our country, informed directly by more than 1500 people from both accessible and remote rural areas, as well as a distillation of contributions from a wide-range of other sources.
“There is no time limit on this manifesto, and we anticipate many of the calls to action and statements within will be relevant for many years to come, whereas others will be quicker to progress.”