Northern Isles MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott have today sought assurances about the role of Highlands and Enterprise following a planned shake up of Scotland's enterprise and skills agencies.
The Scottish Government has today proposed setting up a new Scotland-wide statutory board to co-ordinate the activities of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The announcement follows concerns that Ministers were considering merging HIE and Scottish Enterprise.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“The focus of this review must reflect the improvements in support that businesses in our region need, and cooperation across Scotland is of course important to that.
“Last month, however, the First Minister assured Parliament that HIE will continue to perform its distinct role, amid reports that it was about to be abolished. Proposals for a new board to oversee HIE’s activities will only raise further questions, however.
“When John Swinney did away with local enterprise boards, he said he wanted to ‘de-clutter the landscape’. It now looks like Keith Brown wants to ‘re-clutter’ that same landscape.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott added:
“The economic development of the Highlands and Islands more often than not requires different solutions to the central belt. A centralising board based in Glasgow will not have much of an idea about Shetland.”
“As a matter of urgency, Ministers must clarify that these proposals will not see decision making diluted in the Highlands and Islands in favour of further relentless centralisation.
“The SNP will not get away with absorbing HIE into Scottish Enterprise by the back door. That is the message Liam McArthur and I will take to Ministers when we next meet.”