South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Connectivity and Transport told the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 4th September) that the proposed new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency must have the powers and budget to deliver real change.

The local MSP was speaking during the debate on the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, in which the First Minister confirmed that the long overdue legislation to establish the new Agency would be brought before Parliament this year.

Speaking during the debate Colin Smyth said, “As someone who has campaigned for more support for the South of Scotland economy for ten years, I welcome the long overdue legislation to establish the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency-  ironically a decade after the Scottish Government abolished local enterprise agencies in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

“But that legislation must ensure the membership of the Agency is rooted in the South of Scotland, with powers to deliver real change both in enterprise and skills and with a budget to deliver that change. It must also be underpinned by investment in a Borderlands Growth Deal from this year’s Government budget.”

Proposals for a South of Scotland Enterprise and Skills “vehicle” were first published in October as part of the Scottish Governments Enterprise and Skills Review. However, it wasn’t until June 2017 that the Scottish Government confirmed as phase two of the review that they would create a new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland covering the Scottish Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway, with legislation not coming before Parliament until 2018/19, delaying the establishment of the full Agency until 2020- four years after the initial report.

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