The need for the proposed new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to be accountable to the South of Scotland  was the clear message that came from the visit to Dumfries by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy Committee, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

Local Councils, businesses, communities and local residents made the case for local accountability at a workshop and formal meeting of the Committee at the Easterbrook Hall yesterday (Monday 14th).

Colin Smyth MSP, who is the only South of Scotland MSP who sits on the Committee, welcomed the Rural Economy Committee coming to Dumfries to hear from local businesses and communities first hand. He has pledged to put forward a series of amendments to the Government’s bill establishing the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to ensure a legal requirement for the new agency to consult the local community and mechanism to be established to for the new Agency to be held to account by local stakeholders.

Speaking after the Committee meeting in Dumfries, Colin Smyth MSP said, “During the workshop and formal meeting of the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee there was overwhelming support for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. Local residents, community groups, businesses and local authorities want to see an Agency which has the powers and budget to transform the local economy and provide new opportunities in a way which hasn’t been done before.

However, the clear message from the local community was that the new Enterprise Agency should be accountable to the people living here in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders not politicians in Edinburgh. The Bill that is currently before Parliament has no mechanism and no requirement for the Agency to consult or be held to accountable 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 and ensure we have an Agency that is rooted here in the South of Scotland and can be held to account by the people who actually live here”

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee will hold a further workshop on the Bill to gather views and opinions from businesses and communities in Galashiels on Wednesday 23rd of January.

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