The Scottish Government’s decision to create a single board covering Highland and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and number of other enterprise and skills agencies has come under fire from the Western Isles Labour Party.
In a statement issued yesterday, the party stated: “The news that the SNP government are centralising yet another team away from the Highlands and Islands is dismal in itself, but the SNP do not seem to worry – their policymakers are too remote from us to care!
“Removing the top committee of Highlands and Islands Enterprise or its board has been under consideration by SNP chiefs for over five years and the amount of control available locally has been reduced even more than its budget has been in that time.
“The announcement of the axing of the HIE board a day before a Scottish Parliament debate about “Our Islands Our Future” shows how little the SNP care about democracy and local accountability in the islands.
“HIE staff will now report to a committee based in the Central Belt whose knowledge of the Highlands and Islands cannot be any better than a board based in the north. This is not a cost savings exercise but about centralising control which is a regular theme in the SNP.
“This comes after the ‘Summer of Crofting Discontent’ about the mess that the Crofting Commission has been allowed to get into with an SNP-appointed chair causing havoc.”
Matt Bruce, chair of the Western Isles Labour Party said: “I wonder when Alasdair Allan, our local SNP minister, will tell us how he fought to keep the HIE board of management and show his support for devolving more powers to the islands…his election campaign was called ‘Working for you’. That looks highly questionable given this news!”