No local office exempt from HIE job cuts

No local office will be safe from the jobs cuts facing Highlands and Islands Enterprise this was the stark warning issued to Labour MSP Peter Peacock.

The confirmation came from HIE Chief Executive, Sandy Cumming, under questioning from the Highlands and Islands regional MSP in Parliament this week.

Despite its long term effort to decentralise the services provided by HIE all the local area offices could face redundancies in a bid to shed 50 jobs to cope with a budget reduction of 100 million over three years.

HIE has created centres of economic support and expertise throughout the Highlands, from Lochgilphead in Argyll, in Fort William, Aviemore, Invergordon, Inverness, Forres and Buckie, Thurso and Golspie, Stornoway and Benbecula, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

Peter Peacock said, "HIE is under attack from the minority SNP government with a massive budget reduction and the loss of key skilled staff who have served the area well.

"HIE has an enviable record as possibly the most successful economic development agency in Europe and the SNP should keep their hands off it and let it get on with its job.

"Many of the areas of the Highlands and Islands are still very economically fragile and their economy needs support, but what is happening is going to severely compromise HIE's ability to provide all the services they have in the past.

"Over the last few months we have seen HIE lose its careers functions, its skills development functions and its business advice role. Now it is losing budget and staff."

Peter Peacock concluded that the minority SNP government were being cavalier in their approach to HIE and appeared intent on dismembering it.


29 November 2007

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