MSP raises concerns over HIE merger

Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart

Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart

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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart has come out fighting for the continuation of the region’s economic agency after a new report published by an economic consultant claims the Scottish Government is considering a merger.

Mr Stewart was reacting to Mackay Consultants’ monthly report which says a Minister is considering merging Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) with Scottish Enterprise.

Mr Stewart, said: “Obviously it is something that we have feared over many years as we’ve seen the agency shrink in size and lose its campaigning voice for the Highlands and Islands.

“With the departure of Chief Executive, Alex Paterson, and an interim Chief Executive appointed, there have been rumours that this could be the end for the agency in the region.

“What I find incredible is that a consultant appears to be given insider information while MSPs, who represent this area, are being kept in the dark.

“The Scottish Government has had form of being a centralising government, pulling in agencies to the central belt.

“With the present economic situation and Brexit the last thing we need is the disappearance of HIE and all the expert knowledge that it contains. Also, we need to develop jobs in the Highlands and Islands, not lose them.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary for the Economy, Keith Brown, to ask exactly what is going on and why MSPs have not been briefed.”