Enterprise agency board change condemned as ‘death knell’ for HIE

Tory MSP Donald Cameron warned of the 'demise' of HIE. Picture: Jon Savage
Tory MSP Donald Cameron warned of the 'demise' of HIE. Picture: Jon Savage
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The Scottish Government has come under fire over its “shameful” decision to establish a joint board for skills and enterprise agencies, with opposition politicians warning the move will be the “death knell” for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Conservative Donald Cameron told MSPs the “cold grey hand of central government” is reaching out to “threaten” the HIE board.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats joined the Tories in criticising the move as MSPs debated how best to support Scotland’s island communities. A review recommended last month that a new single board should be set up to co-ordinate the work of enterprise and skills agencies Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and the higher and further education Scottish Funding Council.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has already confirmed the government’s intention is for the new board to replace those of the individual agencies.

Islands minister Humza Yousaf insisted the enterprise agency would continue, saying: “What we’ve said is HIE will remain, that service delivery is important on the ground, that will remain.”.

But Mr Cameron said: “This is not mere administrative tinkering, it is the death knell for HIE as we know it and it is nothing short of shameful.”