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
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
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.