Chair’s Update

I can’t believe it’s six months since the Rural Parliament in Stranraer. Time has really flown by, perhaps because Scottish Rural Action has been so busy.

At the Rural Parliament, you helped to elect new members to join the board of trustees.  These volunteers are responsible for overseeing the work of SRA and for setting the strategic direction. We sometimes call them directors or board members: all similar terms for our charity trustees.

Starting at the end of January, the SRA Board has been reviewing the last year and seeing what went well and what could be improved. We had some considerable successes, thanks to our members and supporters who participated in consultations, events and other engagements.

At the Rural Parliament, we set out 10 things that we wanted action on regarding Brexit and we also identified some key findings that you want us to take forward:

  • Local Decision Making
  • Transparent Policy Making, especially regarding rural issues
  • A Strong Rural Voice
  • Support for Community Empowerment
  • Rural Communities as Agents of Change
  • More Knowledge Sharing

It is the role of the SRA Board to create a strategic plan that can deliver on all of these findings, so the trustees have all be working hard to do that. We started with a workshop day that encouraged us to review our vision statement:

To help improve the lives of people and communities in rural Scotland 
and reduce rural inequality.

From there all the trustees worked together to create a strategy that will lead into the Action Plan for 2019-2020.  It was the first time some of our trustees have been involved with this kind of activity, but it was a good learning experience for all of us.  One of the highlights was a decision to have a more regional approach and to work with local coordinators to really understand things at grassroots level.

We will be publishing our Action Plan in July and look forward to hearing your responses. 

In the meantime, we have a new short-term working group set up, as decided at the Rural Parliament, to look at Climate Change. We don’t intend to replicate the good work done by the many organisations out there who are already working on this, but to look at where we can bring a specific rural aspect to the work that will be useful to all of us living in rural Scotland.  If you’re interested in participating in that group, get in touch with fiona@sra.scotand she will explain more.

There are a lot of consultations going on at the moment. For people in the south of Scotland, there are consultation events about the new enterprise agency happening across the region. We’re particularly interested in the national ones on rural planning and human rights. You can find out more on the website or get in touch with me if you would like to help shape our response.

Best wishes to you all,

Amanda

4 thoughts on “Chair’s Update

  • 31st May 2019 at 7:00 pm
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    Hi, thanks for this.
    The big issue impacting many of us is appalling broadband, a National disgrace. How come this isn’t one of your priorities?
    Kind regards
    Angus MacDonald

    Reply
    • admin
      31st May 2019 at 7:07 pm
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      Hi Angus, thanks for responding. We’re very aware of the dreadful broadband situation in rural Scotland. While cities are trialling 5G, many of our villages don’t even have 4G yet and the broadband speeds are poor in most areas still. We recognised one community’s efforts to do it themselves in our Awards at last year’s rural parliament and have been monitoring the situation since our 2016 rural broadband report. The short term working group on broadband is about to reconvene to do an update (probably starting after the summer), so if you’d like to be a part of that, you’d be most welcome.

      Reply
  • 31st May 2019 at 8:28 pm
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    I would like to support Angus MacDonald’s input over the appalling situation with Scottish rural broadband. You commented that “many of our villages don’t even have 4G yet” – I should be so lucky!!!
    I don’t live in the Highlands and Islands, but 5 minutes from the M74 and I am lucky to get 2Mb/sec. For a supposed technically advanced country this is a disgrace!!

    Reply
    • admin
      31st May 2019 at 9:04 pm
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      Hi Graham, Amanda here. I finally have Fibre to the Home and 150Mbps download speed in Elvanfoot – right off the same M74, but that was because one of my neighbours put a lot of effort into a Community Fibre Partnership with BT, using our community benefit money matched by vouchers from Scottish Government. You’re right that it’s not true that broadband is great everywhere but the Highlands. There are some areas with great broadband across rural Scotland, but a lot of that is where communities have made the effort. Scottish Government’s R100 team gave us an update at the Rural Parliament last November, but I’ll be asking rural communities to give us some evidence about where it’s working and where it’s not.

      Reply

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