'Rural areas have unique aspects which require separate strategic guidance for their continued development,' forum convenor Dick Walsh commented, 'and we believe that the Scottish Enterprise Network needs to be more sensitive to that as well as to the particular relationship between social and economic issues in rural areas.
'We have agreed a submission to SEN on the issue today which I hope will encourage them to develop a rural strategy and confirm their commitment to an integrated approach to rural development.'
Cllr Walsh said: 'Such an approach by SEN would,we believe, allow them to develop constructive partnerships at local levels, not just with councils but other agencies.
Rural affairs forum members heard that the development of a rural strategy by SEN would follow in the footsteps of other national agencies, such as Scottish Homes, who had already successfully developed strategies for dealing with the special needs of rural communities.
COSLA's submission lists a series of areas which the rural affairs forum believes should be addressed in a rural strategy, including: the economic fragility of many rural communities; the need to enhance the economic diversity ofrural areas; infrastructure; telecommunications initiatives; and sustainable development.