THE launch of the new manifesto of Scottish Rural Action (SRA) will take place at 11am on September 8 in The Amsterdam Suite of the Apex Grassmarket Hotel, 31-35 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2HS. All media are invited to attend.
The manifesto (copies will be available on the day and online) will contain hard-hitting recommendations from the SRA Broadband Working Group, and calls for a Scottish Broadband Conference – bringing together all stakeholders, including the Scottish Government, community projects, network providers and suppliers, to resolve delays in broadband roll-out and share views and solutions.
Other recommendations include:
1. The Scottish Government should redirect resources to quickly facilitate the provision of community/national backhaul, local backbone networks and community hubs to support access networks. This will prime the pump for Internet Service Providers to provide connectivity either commercially or through community projects, possibly including State Aid funded projects.
2. The Scottish Government, having made the commitment to reach 100% super-fast coverage, should accept that this is a stepping stone to ultra-fast speeds and ensure that there are clear upgrade paths available to all rural networks.
3. Rural communities should be supported through access to specialist advice according to their needs. This might include business planning, technical advice, help with funding, legal guidance regarding way leaves and other support. There needs to be a mechanism for accessing this support and sharing knowledge amongst community projects in a collaborative way, and not through the current Community Broadband Scotland approach, which has blocked many projects rather than facilitate them.
4. Existing rural broadband and rural initiatives and resources should be coordinated to best respond to rural broadband requirements and overcome obstacles that currently impede rural broadband deployment. These should be addressed and managed by the team responsible for reaching 100%, as a singly managed project, with clear accountability for delivery.
5. There should be a Scottish Broadband Conference, using an Open Space type of facilitation, that brings together all stakeholders, including Scottish Government, community projects, network providers and suppliers, to evaluate the status quo and share views and solutions.
The manifesto includes proposals for improvements in policing, tourism, business development, communities, democracy and governance, depopulation, education, energy, environment, housing and planning, health services and land ownership.
Amanda Burgauer, chair of SRA, said: “The manifesto has been formed following engagement with people across rural Scotland – from the Borders to Shetland and Fife to Benbecula.
“It presents the shared views of people in rural communities about the issues of greatest importance and the measures which are needed to ensure these communities thrive.
“The manifesto will be agreed at the Scottish Rural Parliament in Brechin, Angus, from 6th-8th October this year by 400 participants in the event.
“SRA, which is responsible for the Rural Parliament, will take forward selected actions, advocating on the behalf of and with rural communities to influence decision-making and policy.”
For further information contact David Sinclair, SRA communications officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 07803 970320.