12 December 2013

(S4O-02713) Small Rural Communities (Marketing Support)

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): 7. To ask the Scottish Government what support is available for small rural communities to market themselves. (S4O-02713)

The Minister for Local Government and Planning (Derek Mackay):

This Government attaches great importance to the wellbeing of communities across Scotland, including rural Scotland. We provide a range of services and funding through a number of key partners that give communities the means to make a positive difference to their area and to market themselves more effectively. Notable successes include the LEADER programme under the Scottish rural development programme, the community account management initiative that is run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the VisitScotland growth fund.

Stewart Stevenson: The LEADER fund has been a significant player in helping communities in the north-east of Scotland to develop initiatives, and in the Moray part of my constituency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise is excellent at supporting communities that wish to market themselves.

Will the minister advise us what help is available for small rural communities that are not currently eligible for help under the town centre action plan? In many of those communities, we are now down to very small numbers of shops and we need to ensure that they are able to remain sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Derek Mackay: I am sure that Mr Stevenson welcomes the fact that the town centre action plan has produced a range of actions and methods, as well as a toolkit from which any community can draw to support itself so that it is more dynamic and vibrant and can be sustained in difficult times.

As we deliver continued recovery, every part of Scotland can benefit from the funding packages that we have made available. I also draw more attention to community ownership, social enterprises in communities, the sense of place campaign, business improvement districts and the people and communities fund.

Mr Stevenson will also welcome—as will most members of the Parliament—the announcement on business rates, which will continue to ensure that Scotland has the best package of business rates reliefs in these islands.

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