Keith Brown said: “We have listened to the views of Parliament and those with an
interest in our review, and can confirm that the Highlands and Islands Enterprise
board and the boards of the other three agencies will remain.
“As I have previously promised, HIE will continue to be locally-based, managed and
directed, and the new arrangements will protect and enhance their unique service.”
Scottish Labour Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said: "This is a humiliating
U-turn by Keith Brown, and caps off a bad week for him after he had to apologise
for the secret deal with a Chinese firm and the announcement of a further delay to
the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.
"It is welcome that the Nationalists have scrapped their plan to centralise control
of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The independence of the board should never
have been put at risk in the first place.
"Decisions about the Highlands and Islands economy are best taken locally, rather
than by ministers sitting behind a desk in Edinburgh.
“We will watch very carefully to ensure that the strategic board does not encroach
on the responsibilities of the Highlands and Islands board."
Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, welcomed the u-turn.
Mr Allan said: “I, and my Highlands and Islands SNP colleagues, have met with Keith
Brown several times on this subject and raised a number of concerns about this issue.
“I am pleased to see the cabinet secretary has taken onboard those concerns and responded
“Humiliating” U-turn on HIE board
31 March 2017
The Scottish Government has backtracked on its plan to abolish the board of Highlands
and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Economy Secretary Keith Brown announced he was dropping a proposal for a single overarching
board to replace individual agency board for HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development
Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.
But the continuing HIE board must now “align their services” with a new national
“strategic board” - a Scotland-wide oversight panel being created to oversee its