Sunny welcome to Oban for first Scottish Rural Parliament
The sun was shining in Oban as the first delegates arrived on Wednesday for the first ever Scottish Rural Parliament. And a forecast of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the organisers, who say they are delighted with the warm welcome from the people of Oban and confident that the groundbreaking rural gathering will be a runaway success.
Local businesses are looking forward to an out-of-season boost to business, and around 100 local people have volunteered to help out with the event, which will be centred on the community-run Atlantis Leisure centre and the Corran Halls.
More than 400 people from rural communities and organisations will converge on Oban over the next three days to take part in a rich variety of debates, workshops, exhibitions and entertainment. Their aim will to celebrate rural Scotland, to share ideas, knowledge and experience and, most importantly, to give rural communities a stronger voice in the issues that matter to them.
Delegates who arrive on Wednesday have been invited to watch one of Oban’s legendary firework displays that evening. Then, following a programme of fringe events and visits on Thursday (6th November), the main session of the Parliament will be opened by Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, on Friday morning.
Richard Lochhead said:
“I am truly delighted to see this parliament, a manifesto commitment I personally championed, finally coming to fruition. Establishing a Rural Parliament in Scotland has been a long-held ambition of mine, as I firmly believe that it will give rural communities and businesses a stronger voice in the issues that matter to them.
“Our rural communities are often wonderful places to grow up but they must also be viable places for future generations and this means jobs, housing, transport, communications and education must be seen in a rural context. These are some of the issues that will be examined and debated in Oban and I very much look forward to hearing the outcome of those discussions.”
John Hutchison, Chair of the Scottish Rural Parliament organising group, said:
“Oban is the perfect venue for the first Scottish Rural Parliament, and we have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received. Rural Parliaments have been a great success in many other European countries, and we are confident that rural Scotland will embrace the idea of a Scottish Rural Parliament as warmly as the people of Oban have embraced this event.
“As organisers, our job is to make this weekend a runaway success and then to make sure that energy and enthusiasm keeps going in the two years till the next Rural Parliament.
“We are determined this event and the process around it, will give rural Scotland the opportunity to develop a shared vision for the future and a stronger voice to influence the people who make the decisions that affect them.”
The Scottish Rural Parliament has been supported and funded by the Scottish Government but is run by an independent organisations. It has also received support from Argyll & Bute Council and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, with principle event sponsorship coming from Caledonian MacBrayne.
Media opportunities will be available throughout the event, which finishes at 2 pm on Saturday 8th November. For more information, please contact Emma Cooper on 07896 216236 or Norman MacAskill on 07885 218308.