Headlines: August 28th, 2008

Representatives of local authorities, housing associations and community councils who deal with issues of rural housing will give evidence directly to a committee of the Scottish Parliament next week. It will happen when the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, meets in Melrose on Tuesday, the first time it has visited the town.

The committee members will be in Melrose for an evidence-gathering visit as part of their ongoing inquiry into rural housing in Scotland. The Convener, Roseanna Cunningham, said, “The high cost of housing and the lack of affordable housing for local families is a crucial issue which can affect the balance and sustainability of communities in many parts of rural Scotland, including the Borders.”

In the morning the Committee members will stage a formal ‘round-table’ discussion meeting with a panel of local stakeholders, including members of Scottish Borders Council, community councils and housing associations as well as representatives of the local building trade, Scottish Water and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. The Buccleuch Estates will also take part as a local landowner.

The afternoon sessions will be a less formal meeting to give community representatives from the Borders an opportunity to talk about the housing situation in their area. “The Committee visit provides members with an opportunity to meet and hear from people dealing directly with rural housing issues in the Scottish Borders. Through our round table discussion we hope to gain a clear understanding of how well key stakeholders work together to deliver quality affordable housing in the Borders,” Ms Cunningham added.

The Committee’s is aiming to identify what prevents people in rural Scotland from renting or buying affordable homes and to assess how effective existing mechanisms are at overcoming those obstacles. Members are also considering what further initiatives could be undertaken locally or nationally.