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The MP said: “A new over arching enterprise board with HIE retaining its identity and local accountability is a win-win for the Highlands and Islands.”


Broadbay councillor, Donald Crichton, derided the idea as an “empty gesture.”  


Mr Crichton also said that there should be a re-drawing of boundaries to focus on the most peripheral areas of the Highlands and Islands.


He said: "Mr Blackford's suggestion does nothing to remove the fact that through this misguided decision economic development in the Highlands and Islands is going to be diminished.


“An advisory or local management board as Mr Blackford suggests, would be an empty gesture without having any key strategic role.


“Disbanding the only dedicated board for strategic economic development in the most fragile area of the country will remove key decision making and influence for our communities."


Mr Crichton fears the changes highlights a “real danger” the Scottish Government no longer sees the Highlands and Islands as a priority any more.


“Meanwhile our depopulation crisis grows as influence and people ebb away," he added.


He concluded: "This review should have been the opportunity to redraw HIE's boundaries with a focus on the islands and other vulnerable areas in the Highlands and placing the more populous and prosperous Inverness under the umbrella of Scottish Enterprise.


“With a strengthened remit and a properly resourced budget the projected population decline and economic challenges could be seriously tackled."



An island councillor has slammed what a Highland politician called a “win-win” compromise over a row to abolish the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.


Ian Blackford, MP for Skye and Lochaber, backs the Scottish Government’s plan to replace the panel with a single “overarching” board to replace individual agency boards” for HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.


He wrote to economy minister Keith Brown advocating HIE retains a management or advisory board though the responsibility for strategy is transferred to the new national board.


Island councillor slams HIE “compromise” proposal

10 January 2017