A petition has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petition Committee asking for the Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to reverse its decision to create a joint board for enterprise and skills agencies.
Former MSP for the Highlands & Islands, Maureen Macmillan said,
“For the eight years I had been an MSP, I strived to do what I could to support and champion the causes of the scattered communities of the Highlands & Islands.
"I was a firm believer in the work of the Highlands & Islands Development Board (HIDB) and then the Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE).
“This agency was set up in 1965 by the Labour Government to stem the de-population of the Highlands and Islands and at the same time enhance the economic and social needs of the area.
"By any standard, the work of these agencies has been a success in part.
“I am sure, to the fact that the Board were based firmly in the Highlands & Islands where they remained in tune with the needs and desires of the communities they were set up to serve.
"To amalgamate this Board into an overarching governing body for more than one agency and move it South to the central belt, is a retrograde step and in my view contrary to the whole concept of the HIDB/HIE in the first place.
“This is a welcome development by our former Parliamentary colleague, Maureen Macmillan,” said Rhoda Grant MSP for the Highlands and Islands Region.
“Maureen has unrivalled experience of life in the Highlands and Islands.
"She is well aware of the positive effect that HIE has had on the area and fears that centralisation of its board will have a hugely detrimental effect on our communities."
“The Scottish Parliamentary Public Petitions system is a refreshing and innovative approach to highlighting and raising the concerns of constituents, being the first of its kind in the world which gives constituents direct access to Parliament by means of the e-petition system,” commented David Stewart, MSP for the Highlands and Islands Region and past Convener of the Public Petitions Committee,
“Maureen Macmillan has taken a strong leadership position to voice the concerns of many of the thousands of constituents from across the Highlands & Islands who do not want to see the Government dismantle the HIE structure and drag the Board South.”
“The petition link is http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01639 and we urge as many people as possible to sign this petition,” concluded Mrs Grant, the bigger voice that is heard against this wrong-headed decision the better.”