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A petition has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petition Committee urging the Scottish Government to reverse its decision to create a joint board for enterprise and skills agencies.
Former MSP for the Highlands and 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 and Islands.
‘I was a firm believer in the work of the Highlands and Islands Development Board (HIDB) and then the Highlands and 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 was based firmly in the Highlands and Islands where it remained in tune with the needs and desires of the communities it was 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.’