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Rural Scotland ‘Fearful’ of post Brexit impact

Participants in the Scottish Rural Parliament have presented Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, with their Post-Brexit Policy Statement that highlights an overriding fear that their needs will be unmet by governments that ‘can feel distant and removed from day to day lives’.

The policy statement has been informed by a series of community consultation events held across Scotland over the past 3 months, and was debated and agreed at the Scottish Rural Parliament which has been sitting in Stranraer.
The policy statement and research findings will now be passed to the Scottish and UK governments for consideration. 

Emma Cooper, Chief Executive of Scottish Rural Action said:
“The message coming loud and clear from every part of rural Scotland is of concern and fear that rural communities and businesses will be left behind. Rural development is embedded in the culture of the EU.  Rural Scotland is deeply concerned that Brexit could have catastrophic consequences for communities, and the small businesses that sustain our rural communities. Participants in the Rural Parliament have agreed 10 policy asks.  Unless we have an unequivocal commitment to prioritising rural development, there is a real risk of irreversible damage being done to rural areas in the years ahead.”

The policy statement was presented to Mr Russell by Chair of Scottish Rural Action Amanda Burgauer on behalf of the Rural Parliament participants. 

Mr Russell said:
“The Scottish Government shares the Rural Parliament’s concerns. But we are resolute in our determination to work with Scottish Rural Action and everyone living and working in rural Scotland to do all we can to mitigate the inevitable disruption that Brexit will create for our rural economy. Our rural communities have shown time and time again how resilient they are but now more than ever these communities need reassurances over their future.

“The proposed deal by the UK Government offers little for rural Scotland. It does not meet the frequently stated Scottish Government requirement of Single Market and Customs Union membership for the whole of the UK, which fails for Scotland. And more importantly takes away the four freedoms and in particularly freedom of movement which is essential for Scotland.
“People are fundamental to the economic well-being of rural and remote Scotland – that is why we have made providing stability and certainty in rural support, while also working to deliver an economic action plan that meets the needs of the rural economy key priorities.”

The Scottish Rural Parliament takes place every two years.  It brings people working, volunteering and representing rural communities together directly with policy makers and influencers to explore solutions to a range of rural challenges and to look at opportunities for community led solutions.


South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has said he is disappointed that no firm date has been given for the reinstatement of full Ayr to Stranraer rail services.


The comments come after Colin Smyth questioned Alex Hynes, Managing Director of the Scot Rail Alliance, at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Tuesday 14 November.


Alex Hynes was also asked to give a guarantee that contingency plans were put in place should there be any further disruption at Ayr Station in the future.


Speaking afterwards, Colin Smyth MSP said, “While it is welcomed by passengers that some services have been reinstated on the Stranraer to Ayr line, I am disappointed that no firm date has yet been provided for the full reinstatement on services by Scot Rail. Many passengers from Stranraer, Barrhill, Girvan and Maybole rely on the train services to travel for their studies and employment”.


“It is accepted by everybody that there is likely to be further disruption in securing Ayr Station Hotel and any future works that are required. The obvious answer is to erect temporary platforms at the Townhead Depot and to ensure there are train carriages on the track south of Ayr Station to minimise any future disruption. Scot Rail didn’t give any firm guarantees today on contingency plans. I do, however, welcome that a contingency plan is on the Station Taskforce’s agenda and would encourage all partners to ensure that no stone is left unturned in minimising disruption for passengers.” 


SCC comments on UK's departure from EU

Commenting on the announcement from the Prime Minister that the Cabinet has backed the draft Withdrawal Agreement, Liz Cameron OBE, Director and Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 

“After two and a half years, business communities across Scotland and the UK, will welcome the Cabinet-backed draft Withdrawal Agreement. Overcoming this first hurdle has been achieved, but this will continue to remain a long journey. 

“It is now critical that Scottish business gets an opportunity to look closely at the detail of the agreement.  The assessment of these proposals and understanding the implications for business is a priority for the Chamber Network, and must be for politicians on all sides of the debate.

“Ultimately, business and government must continue to collaborate and work closely together, making sure businesses in Scotland, UK and Europe continue to trade as freely as possible.”

UK’s exit from, and future relationship with, the European Union

The United Kingdom and the European Union negotiating teams have reached agreement in principle on the Withdrawal Agreement. The terms of the UK’s departure on 29 March 2019 have been established, providing a smooth exit and orderly transition to the future relationship for people, businesses and organisations across our country.

The two sides have also agreed an outline of the Political Declaration on the future relationship, which sets out the broad structure, scope and objectives for the UK’s future partnership with the EU.

Negotiations will now continue to finalise the full Political Declaration for review by the Prime Minister, and the leaders of the EU27.


Bakers Oven passes to The Midsteeple Quarter for £1 in Regeneration Plan

During the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on 13 November 2018, Councillors agreed to the proposed Community Asset transfer of the Bakers Oven property located on the High Street in Dumfries for the sum of £1.00; continuing the positive uptake in community ownership of local facilities right across the region.

The property has been identified as the potential cornerstone for the ambitious Midsteeple Quarter Project proposed by Dumfries High Street Limited (trading as ‘Midsteeple Quarter’).  Through a process of redevelopment, they plan to bring up to eight underused properties in the High Street back into use.  High quality, affordable housing on the upper floors will be created with enterprise hub units on the ground floor.  The Bakers Oven is intended to be the first phase of this ambitious plan to help regenerate Dumfries High Street delivering distinct spaces for enterprise, production and accommodation.

The property was originally purchased by Dumfries and Galloway Council in 2009 through a Scottish Government (Town Centre Regeneration Fund) grant with the building being earmarked as part of the Dumfries Town Centre regeneration plan.

Dumfries High Street Limited has consulted widely providing focussed engagement activities to ensure community input into their town, shaping the plans and bringing the Bakers Oven into focus as being central to the project.

The plans consider the long-term financial sustainability with projected costs for rent, accommodation use, through to short term desk space rental.  Dumfries and Galloway Small Housing Trust, renowned for delivering financially feasible housing projects, have recently been involved as a central project lead and there is clear evidence within the business plan for delivering affordable town centre accommodation.

With £99,888 of funding support already secured from the Council’s Town Centre Living Fund, £60,000 from the Holywood Trust and £20,000 from The Scottish Government has also been granted.  With this support confirmed Dumfries High Street Limited are actively engaged in pursuing further funding.

Chair of Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Rob Davidson highlighted the benefits this will have on the High Street.  He said “We recognise the positive social and economic benefits that can be achieved when working with the local community and understanding what they would like to see happening.  It reiterates our commitment to providing an attractive location to do business. With local people and communities at the heart of our decision making there will be new, affordable town centre accommodation and enterprise hubs providing a viable, sustainable and welcome addition to the High Street.”

Vice-chair, Councillor Elaine Murray added “this innovative proposal is empowering our communities to make the most of their assets and with high levels of community support it is a fantastic example of the local community leading on a town centre regeneration project.  With the building being brought back into use it benefits many around the High Street”.