Call for the Highlands and Islands Enterprise board to be retained

Due to the uncertainty over the retention of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Board and following discussions at last week’s Highland Council meeting, a report went to today’s (Wednesday 2 November) Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee so members could discuss the issue.

In its original response to the Scottish Government on the Enterprise and Skills Review, the Council stressed the need to retain a regional economic development focus and the report presented today considered the outcomes of the first phase of the Review and how proposals for the implementation of phase 2 could impact on the Highlands, in particular proposals to create a Scottish wide Strategic Board.

Following discussions the Committee have agreed a position and put forward the following recommendation:

“The Committee endorses the view as agreed at the Council meeting on 27 October that the potential loss of an autonomous decision making local board is a serious concern. The Committee agrees that the Leader of the Council and the Chair of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee should write to Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity expressing that concern and take any other steps as necessary over the coming months to ensure HIE remains accountable to a local Board.”

Chair of the Planning Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Audrey Sinclair said: “In our response to the Review we made it clear that we felt it critical to retain a dedicated regional economic development focus in the Highlands, especially given the nature of the challenges we face in relation to our unique geography of  small dispersed communities and economies. The Committee today were unanimous in the view that this is best achieved by retaining a local Board so along with the Leader I will be taking this forward.”

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said, “I welcome the Committee’s support for retaining a local board to ensure the responsive direction of the work of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This matter was discussed at this week’s meeting of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands and we will be pressing the Scottish Government to recognise the important role that the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise fulfils in supporting and growing our economy.”

The Council’s response to the Review is published on the Highland Council website at:

2 Nov 2016
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