Dean Lockhart MSP has labelled the SNP’s budget a ‘kick in the teeth’ for Stirling’s rural communities.
The budget, announced last week, shows that the SNP Government will cut business development by 13.3 per cent, agri-environment measures by 7.3 per cent and LEADER by 10.9 per cent.
LEADER is a grassroots level method of delivering support for rural development through implementing Local Development Strategies.
Examples of projects funded by LEADER in the Stirling area include; Gartmore Village Hall, Wireless Broadband for Kinlochard, Drymen Church refurbishment and the renovation of the tearoom at Brig O’Turk.
The budget also showed that the Scottish Government plan to reduce funding for Less Favoured Area Support Scheme by £14 million in real terms, and cut digital connectivity funding despite a commitment to deliver superfast broadband by 2021.
Dean Lockhart MSP said:
‘’The cuts to rural business development are counter-productive in the extreme and will erode the sustainability of our rural communities.
“Critically, the failure to invest in new entrants to farming programmes or broadband poses significant short term challenges for farms.
“The SNP claim that rural Scotland is a priority, yet with everything they do, they show that, to them, rural Scotland is dispensable.
“Farmers, tourism businesses, and the communities that are built around them are all poorer for this budget.”