Proposals for a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency are plagued by the SNPs “obsession with central control”, according to South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth.

The comments come after the Scottish Government today (25 October) published the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill which makes clear that decisions on the membership, budget, powers and plans will rest with Scottish Ministers rather than members of the new Agency. The bill falls significantly short of similar legislation when Highlands and Islands Enterprise was established.

Scottish Labour have pledged to amend the bill when it comes before the Scottish Parliament.

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Connectivity and Transport Colin Smyth said,

“Having campaigned for a South of Scotland Agency for over a decade, I’m pleased that this bill has been published at long last but deeply disappointed that the proposals are plagued by the Scottish Government’s obsession with central control. There are huge economic challenges facing a region that has been forgotten about by the Scottish Government for far too long. But the new Agency will not meet those challenges unless it is rooted in the South of Scotland, with a membership accountable to the area, not handpicked by Government Ministers in Edinburgh. Labour will amend the bill when it comes before Parliament to give the new agency the powers, budget and local accountability it needs to deliver real economic change for the South of Scotland rather than the damp squib planned by the Government.”

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