The Scottish government has confirmed the abolition of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise governing board, sparking renewed fears that Shetland could lose out through centralisation.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney today told MSPs attending parliamentary questions that HIEs board will be abolished.
Mr Swinney confirmed that the government’s “intention is that, once established, this overarching board will replace individual agency boards”.
Labour MSP and rural economy and connectivity spokeswoman, Rhoda Grant said she was “outraged at this blatant centralisation”.
“It beggars belief that the SNP government will have us debating empowering Island Communities tomorrow while removing their power and influence over HIE,” she said. “The loss of this board takes us back to early 1960 when Willie Ross said that no part of Scotland has been given a shabbier deal by history. Sadly the SNP government appears to be rewriting history and offering an even shabbier deal.”
“The loss of this board takes us back to early 1960 when Willie Ross said that no part of Scotland has been given a shabbier deal by history. Sadly the SNP government appears to be rewriting history and offering an even shabbier deal.”
The decision has also been heavily criticised by Isles MSP Tavish Scott, who has insisted the move represents the end of “bespoke” economic development in the Highlands and Islands.
“HIE will become a branch office of the Scottish government,” he said.
“There will be no board to provide a Highlands and Islands focus – instead once again there will be top down centralised control from the central belt.
“This is the latest centralisation imposed by the SNP. I will work with all parties to attempt to stop this retrograde step as the Scottish government attempt to railroad this through Holyrood.
“Given the SNP councillors on Highland Council oppose this move, it will be a true test of SNP Highland and Island MSPs.
“Will they put their party before their areas? The Highlands and Islands will be watching closely.”