Borders views on enterprise agency heard

MSP Colin Smyth
MSP Colin Smyth

The proposed new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency needs to be accountable to the region the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy Committee was told when it met at Dumfries last week.

The committee moved on to the Borders this week, meeting in Galashiels on Wednesday, January 23, to hear what people in the region want from the agency.

After the Dumfries meeting, Labour South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, a member of the committee, said: “The Bill has no mechanism and no requirement for the agency to consult or be held to account by local people and that is wrong.

“Under the current plans the board of the new agency will be fully appointed by Government Ministers in Edinburgh and they will only report to the Government who will have the power to tell the agency what to do without any consultation. That needs to change. I intend to submit amendments to the Bill to improve local accountability.”

Convener of the committee, Edward Mountain, said: “We have heard that there is a real need for more support for small businesses and social enterprises, and to develop skills and entrepreneurship. We also heard that steps need to be taken to encourage young people to stay in and move to the area.

“We want to hear how the proposed new agency might address such issues.”