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Hebrides News


Following a debate in the Scottish Parliament, opposition parties backed a Conservative motion to leave things as they are.

MSPs voted 64 to 63 to “reverse this decision and ensure that the HIE board continues to take all strategic, operational and budgetary decisions.”

A motion by MSP Rhoda Grant criticising the “impact that the Scottish Government’s plans for centralisation will have on HIE’s unique social remit” also won through.

A move by Economy Secretary, Keith Brown, to find support for the changes was backed by SNP members, including Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, but was defeated by one vote.

During the debate, Tory member, Donald Cameron, who put forward the main motion, maintained it was the latest in a “tragic tale” of centralisation.

He added: “Communities in the peripheral areas of remote and rural Scotland are not helped by passing power in completely the opposite direction.

Economy minister, Keith Brown, insisted: “The future of HIE is secure; it is not being abolished.”

He “guaranteed to protect local decision making, management and delivery.”

Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, slammed the “power grab that ignores the needs of the Highlands and Islands.”

She added: “The Scottish Government must recognise that it has no support for the plan. The Government cannot tell us who supports scrapping the HIE board, but I can give a lengthy list of those who totally oppose it.”

Another Labour member, David Stewart, stressed it is “crucial that we keep the HIE board, fight creeping centralisation and give HIE the strategic direction to devise and formulate its own priority initiatives.”

Kate Forbes, the SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “Words are so devalued in our political discourse that they are hurled about until the air is so thick with exaggeration, hyperbole and superlatives that it is impossible to see the truth.”

She added: “I am really quite disappointed that opposition parties have spread such fear among local communities and HIE staff with their irresponsible rhetoric.”

The parliament’s presiding officer, Ken Macintosh, pointed out the vote was not binding.

He added: “However, the parliament has made its views known, and it is now up to the government to choose how to respond.”




Scottish Government loses HIE vote  

19 January 2017

The Scottish Government has lost a vote over its attempt to abolish the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

It wants the development organisation to come under an overarching management body covering all of Scotland’s enterprise and skills’ agencies.

Liberal Democrat MSP, Liam McArthur, described SNP ministers as “arrogant and tone-deaf” over their proposals.

He slammed the “ill-judged and dangerous” proposals to “centralise the life out of” the Highlands and Islands.