McArthur reveals minister’s HIE howler

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur today said SNP ministers will be “red faced” after it was revealed that, months into a major shake-up, senior officials at Highlands and Islands Enterprise didn’t believe Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown knew what their agency did. 

Internal communications from the highest levels of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), released to the Scottish Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act, described Keith Brown as having “little awareness” of HIE’s role. This was two months after the announcement of the Enterprise and Skills Review, led by Mr Brown.

Mr McArthur commented:

“This is another embarrassing revelation in the sorry saga that is SNP ministers’ attempts to snatch control of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

“Keith Brown will be left red faced by top HIE officials describing him as having ‘little awareness’ of the body he was charged with reviewing. It confirms that instead of bothering to take the time to understand the organisation he had simply set his sights on centralising it.

“SNP ministers have had a howler. Their centralisation policy is deeply unpopular across the Highlands and Islands. It was rejected by Parliament. Now we know he didn’t even know the basics of what this organisation does.

“The ‘we know best approach’ of SNP ministers has been well and truly debunked. They need to immediately scrap their plans to abolish HIE.”

Notes to editors

  • A note written on 24 July 2016, by and for the HIE leadership team, stated: “On 20 July, Mr Brown met with the Chairs and CEs (or reps) of all 4 agencies. From a HIE perspective, this was a useful opportunity to meet Mr Brown, explain HIE’s role (as he has little awareness) and understand his perspective on the review.”
  • The Enterprise and Skills Review was announced by the First Minister on 25 May 2016.

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