1.1 In June 2018 the National Council of Rural Advisers ( NCRA) launched a national consultation, ‘A Rural Conversation: Together We Can, Together We Will’. In establishing the consultation, the Council’s intention was to engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and gather perspectives, information and evidence to help formulate and shape the NCRA’s representations to Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing.
1.2 The consultation was based on the findings of the 11 ‘Rural Thinks’ workshops which took place in early 2018, summarised in the report ‘Rural Thinks Consultation and Engagement Workshops  ’. The 'Rural Thinks' workshops revolved around three key themes (i) Vision - the narrative of rural Scotland (ii) People - investing in talent and creating opportunity and (iii) Infrastructure - enabling success. Reflecting on these findings, the NCRA determined that these needs could be met through the development of a rural economic strategy and asked questions about the proposed strategy in the consultation document. This report is therefore organised around four themes:
Rural Economic Strategy
1.3 In total the consultation achieved 130 responses, 63 from individuals and 67 from organisations. Respondents participated through the online platform Citizen Space or by emailing or posting their responses to the Scottish Government. The Lines Between, a research agency based in Edinburgh, was commissioned to undertake and report on the independent analysis of consultation responses.
Encouraging participation in the consultation
1.4 The consultation was open for six consecutive weeks through June and July. In efforts to encourage participation the NCRA launched a comprehensive social media campaign. This engagement reached/achieved:
- 869 on Facebook (combination of likes, shares, views)
- 262 Twitter retweets, with 506 followers
- 364 NCRA video views on YouTube, and
- 76 Instagram followers
1.5 The consultation launch also garnered wide-ranging press coverage, reaching 120 publications and broadcasters. In addition, the NCRA engaged with the public at key events, including:
- Royal Highland Show
- Scottish Game Fair
- Glamis Transport Extravaganza, and
- Black Isle Show
1.6 Additionally, the NCRA hosted a workshop involving 20 Local Authorities and carried out 615 Mailshots across a wide range of sectors.
Analysis and reporting
1.7 The Lines Between developed an initial coding framework based on a review of the consultation questions and sample of responses. Qualitative data (responses to open questions) was coded manually according to specific themes; quantitative data was analysed with Excel. This analysis process enabled the research team to highlight and group key themes and messages that emerged from the responses.
1.8 This report presents the range of views expressed and trends amongst responses. During analysis it became evident that responses to some questions linked to numerous themes and in some cases fitted more strongly with other themes in the consultation document; the analysis has been presented under the most appropriate thematic heading.
1.9 Where appropriate, a sample of quotes is included to illustrate key points. Quotes provide useful examples, insights and contextual information, but may not always represent the views of entire groups, such as entire industries, sectors, or geographic areas of Scotland. Where participants gave permission for their responses to be published we have quoted directly, however minor spelling or grammatical errors have been corrected to improve readability.
1.10 Considering the open-ended nature of the consultation questions, the report is strongly qualitative in nature.
Rural communities do genuinely have unique requirements, but also have unique assets including self-help culture and behaviour. The key to building success is to tease out the key enablers that really do help rural bodies to deliver.