Monday, January 20, 2020
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Ian Blackford


A local MP is attempting to come up with a compromise deal which could bring an end to the current war of words over the future of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Ian Blackford who represents Ross, Skye and Lochaber believes that his new initiative would bring a “win-win” situation for the development agency.

He has written to Economy Secretary Keith Brown proposing that the controversial new national board goes ahead, but that HIE retains its own management or advisory board as well.

Mr Blackford said: “I fully endorse the establishment of an over-arching board which in my view will create an essential focus of collaboration and best practice that will allow agencies such as HIE to continue to be an engine for economic and community advancement in the Highlands and islands.

“It further offers the opportunities of the scale and reach of this agency as a tool to further enhance the success and achievements of HIE.

“While there are legitimate questions and indeed concerns as to how accountability will be delivered both to the Scottish Government and the communities that HIE serves, it is wholly consistent that HIE has its own responsibilities for corporate governance and accountability within the new framework.

“As the new over-arching board is strategic in nature it would in my opinion be complemented by a management board or an advisory board to liaise with it to reflect the priorities of HIE and the Highlands and islands.”

He added: “I believe there is the opportunity for a win-win scenario of the benefits of the new strategic supervisory board whilst enshrining the responsibility of HIE to deliver throughout the Highlands and islands.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Highlands and Islands Enterprise will continue to be locally-based, managed and directed providing dedicated support to the local economy.

“Our reforms will protect the unique service that HIE delivers for our Highland and island economies and – as Ian Blackford observes – will enhance the support that is available to businesses, employers and employees across the region.”

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