Loss of Power at HIE Condemned


Labour’s Highlands and Islands Regional MSP, Peter Peacock says he fears the SNP minority government’s announcement about the future of Highlands and Islands Enterprise is the start of a move to dismantle it.

He has attacked as "ill considered and ill judged" their policy of stripping HIE of key powers in relation to skills and training; he questioned why the government was cutting local business representatives off local decision making bodies and why, having promised the local authorities in the HIE area new powers before the election he is no longer doing so - while giving those extra powers to local authorities in the rest of Scotland.

Peter Peacock said: "HIE grew out of the HIDB which Labour established to turn this region round economically. HIE has been hugely successful and to tamper with a winning formula is ill judged.

"I believe we are seeing the start of a process to dismantle HIE – removing key powers in skills and training and careers and raising questions about HIE’s future freedoms in relation to business grants, grants operated here successfully for many years and now put under review.

"The local authorities in the HIE area will no doubt be questioning why the minority SNP government’s commitment to give them some of HIE’s powers has been broken and why this minority government doesn’t trust the Councils in the north to undertake local regeneration, when the local authorities in the rest of Scotland will get these powers.

"The Cabinet Secretary has also seriously insulted the honest endeavours of local business-people across the Highlands and islands by describing LECs in his statement as "an obstacle to local economic development". Abolishing LECs will be greeted with dismay in the Islands in particular as they had added a dimension to local life which was valued."

Mr Peacock added: "The area will live to regret these hurried ill considered and ill judged decisions."


26 September 2007

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