The first meeting of Scotland’s new Rural Parliament will be held in Argyll and Bute later this year, the Scottish Government has announced.
The three day event will take place in Oban on November 6, 7 and 8, and will bring together four hundred people from rural communities, decision makers and organisations across Scotland.
The event is being organised by Scottish Rural Parliament (SRP) co-ordinator Emma Cooper from her office base in Rothesay.
“The process of involvement, discussion and debate within and between rural communities prior to the event is as vital, if not more so, than the event itself,” Emma said.
“By engaging people in this manner and giving them a real voice in Scottish politics, it is hoped that this first Rural Parliament will kick-start a rural movement such as exists in other parts of Europe.”
The primary venue for the event will be the Atlantis Leisure Centre, while talks are ongoing with Argyll and Bute Council to secure the use of the town’s Corran Halls as a secondary venue.
Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The establishment of a Rural Parliament in Scotland has been a long-held ambition of mine, and I am delighted that the very first meeting will be held in Oban in November.
“Rural Parliaments work well in other European countries, giving our rural communities and businesses a stronger voice in policy making and an opportunity to celebrate all that is good about living and working in rural areas. I would urge everyone across rural Scotland to take advantage of the opportunity to be involved in shaping the content, remit, agenda and themes of our nation’s very first Rural Parliament and make it a success.”
John Hutchison, the chair of Scottish Rural Action, the organisation charged by the Scottish Government with developing the Rural Parliament, said: “The Scottish Rural Parliament will be a community-led process of development culminating in an event every two years. Our aim is to give rural communities the opportunity to present a collective voice to Government. Encouraging discussion and debate over the next few months, leading up to November, will be an important part of that.”
A series of smaller events are planned across Scotland in the run up to the Rural Parliament which will feed into the discussion and debate at the event itself.
Before then, Scottish Rural Action is holding a free event called ‘A Rural Parliament for Scotland’ at The Gathering, a third sector event being held at the SECC in Glasgow.
The SRA event takes place on Wednesday, February 19, from 12 noon to 1.15pm.