New findings by the chairman of HIE into the agency’s future governance has faced criticism by politicians amid ongoing fears over centralisation.
Lorne Crerar’s report has been slammed as an end to Highlands and Islands decision making by Isles MSP Tavish Scott.
Last month the SNP administration refused to walk away from its controversial proposals to abolish the HIE board, despite suffering a parliamentary defeat.
Now, Mr Scott has condemned the report which recommends the end of the “real governance board” of the enterprise agency. It comes after Professor Crerar was asked to chair a review of governance as part of an enterprise and skills review.
The MSP has described the proposals as nothing more than “absolute control by ministers of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.”
Professor Crerar’s report proposes to reduce the HIE agency board to a “delivery board”. While the report does not rule out a minister chairing the new overarching board, it instead suggests “a ministerial chair would give a clear authority to the strategic board”.
Mr Scott said: “This report confirms everything a centralising government wants. This means absolute control by ministers of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
“Lorne Crerar should have simply done what he was asked and produced a justification for the HIE board abolition. His proposal is even worse. This is control from the centre. A delivery board that will do exactly what it is told by ministers.
“As recently as Monday, local councils and many others told the Deputy First Minister not to abolish the strategic decision making board of HIE. Now the government will do that.
“Parliament by majority said no. If the SNP now use ministerial powers to railroad these bad proposals through Parliament they will show utter contempt for Parliament.
“This is an acid test of the SNP government. Do they accept the will of Parliament or not?”