The SNP has launched its manifesto for rural and island communities in Scotland, setting out green and ambitious plans to enable people to stay where they want to be and spend locally.
The rural manifesto pledges to put rural communities at the heart of plans to protect the NHS, create jobs and opportunities for young people, grow the economy and meet Scotland’s net zero ambitions by 2045.
Some of the actions included are:
Creating a Rural Entrepreneur Fund, renewing the Community Empowerment Act; introducing new Land Reform Legislation with a presumption in favour of community buy-outs; and investing £10 million into the Scotland Loves Local fund.
Creating a new centre of excellence for rural and remote medicine; rolling out more mobile health services in rural areas; investing in our rural general hospitals; and establishing a fast track cancer diagnostic centre in every health board area, with 20% increased NHS spending.
Delivering more affordable island housing by a policy of new build, refurbishment of empty properties and controls on second homes.
Developing a National Digital Academy to allow learners to access education from anywhere in Scotland; investing £25 million to improve mobile coverage in remote rural and island communities; and providing funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses obtain superfast broadband in areas where providers may not ordinarily go.
Supporting communities through increased local procurement, greater use of small businesses and ensuring taxpayers money is reinvested as far as possible in local communities, stimulating Arran’s local economy.
Investing around £10 million to Highlands and Islands Enterprise which includes Arran and Cumbrae, and South of Scotland Enterprise to deliver the Green Jobs Fund.
Ensuring 5G connectivity throughout Arran by the end of 2023.
Bringing in a new £15 million fund to support food processing and manufacture to develop local supply chains and transition to low or zero carbon operations.
The SNP has also pledged to develop the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund of £6.2 million.
SNP Candidate for Arran Kenneth Gibson said:
“A key focus for a re-elected SNP Government will be investing to help people and businesses stay and produce locally and sustainably, as well as improve connectivity, to ensure our rural communities flourish.
“In government, the SNP has already fixed the agricultural payments system, ensured Scotland received £160 million of convergence funding the Tories tried to spend in England - despite receiving it only for Scotland’s farmers - and is investing £579 million ensuring every home and business on Arran and beyond has superfast broadband access by 2023 something the Tory Government should have done, given it is a UK responsibility.
“The SNP has a strong record on standing up for rural and island communities and will continue to do so. The only way to secure an SNP Government is by #BothVotesSNP to elect both the constituency and List MSPs we need to achieve a majority.”