South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the central control by Government Ministers of decisions being made by the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP) highlghts the need for the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to be locally run and locally accountable.
The comments come following the announcement by the Scottish Government of the release of around £300,000 of SoSEPs budget to two projects – £156,000 on improving rural skills and entrepreneurship in the South of Scotland and £120,000 to support six projects that who are applying for funding from the Partnership.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The South of Scotland Economic Partnership came about as a result of years of campaigning locally by those us frustrated at the utter failure of national agencies such as Scottish Enterprise to properly support the economy of the South of Scotland. Whilst any funding for local projects is welcome, this isn’t new money and comes from the existing South of Scotland Economic Partnership budget. SoSEP agreed this funding some time ago and it’s a real weakness that they can’t spend its budget without the agreement of Government Ministers who are now running around taking credit for SoSEPs decisions. There is no doubt that as a result of this central control SoSEP don’t consider spending that may meet the needs of the South of Scotland if they think Ministers in Edinburgh will veto it. It highlights the need for the forthcoming South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to be locally run and locally accountable rather than be controlled by the Government. If that isn’t achieved, then the new Agency will fail in the same way that centrally run Scottish Enterprise has”.