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Isles MSPs call out “centralisation by another name”

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur

Liam McArthur MSP and Beatrice Wishart MSP, who represent Orkney and Shetland respectively, have called for reconsideration of reported cuts to the budget for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

This follows the news that HIE will have their funding cut from almost £72 million to just under £59 million under the proposed budget.

Mr McArthur said: “These funding cuts demonstrate that HIE and the needs of businesses and communities across the Highlands and Islands are not a priority for this SNP government.

“Two years ago, ministers failed in their attempt to centralise HIE by scrapping its board of directors. Since then, using successive budgets, ministers have singled out HIE for deep cuts while increasing support for economic development elsewhere in Scotland. On the face of it, this is just centralisation by another name.

“The consequences of this ill-judged decision should not be underestimated. With Brexit already posing a real threat to economic development across the region, including here in Orkney, it makes no sense for this SNP government to compound those difficulties by further slashing HIE’s funding.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart added: “HIE have shown that locally-based support can make all the difference for rural enterprises. There can be no good reason to backtrack on that principle through cuts to their funding.

“The solution to local challenges can’t always be found in the central belt. HIE must be properly supported to continue their role in providing an alternative.”

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