Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has today warned SNP Ministers must not “dictate to Highlands and Islands Enterprise” following the publication of the government’s controversial Enterprise and Skills Stage 2 review.
The report, published today following a six month campaign and two parliamentary defeats on the government’s proposed plans, sets out an “absolute expectation that the agencies will work to align their delivery with the priorities set out by the Strategic Board.”
Scottish Ministers have also failed to indefinitely rule out changing the name, structures or autonomy of the existing bodies such as HIE. Responding formally to the much criticised Lorne Crerar report, the Scottish Government said it would not bring forward legislation to affect agency boards “at this time”.
Mr Scott said these reports would not put to bed “understandable concerns among businesses and communities” and added “the test will be in whether or not the economic and social needs of Highlands & Islands remain the top priority of HIE.”
The Shetland MSP added: “Scottish Ministers must not dictate to Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Their obsession with centralisation has won them no favours. A pan Scotland strategic board could dictate a central belt agenda. That cannot be allowed to happen.
“While campaigners have won a hard fought campaign to pull in the worst of the Scottish Government’s ill-judged proposals they, like me, will not hesitate in bringing this issue back to Holyrood if HIE does indeed find its hands tied behind its back as a result of the government’s reforms.”