South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has today (7 May) hosted a breakfast roundtable on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill today in Dumfries.
The Roundtable gathered the views of local stakeholders on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill and suggested amendments. Attendees included representatives of local business, including both Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Chambers of Commerce, community organisations and the public sector.
The breakfast roundtable took place ahead of the beginning of the second stage of the legislation process for the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill which will establish a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. The second stage is carried out by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee which will consider and vote on key amendments to the Bill on Wednesday.
More than half the proposed amendments to the bill have been tabled by Colin Smyth and include proposals to make it a legal requirement for the new agency to consult people in the south of Scotland on their proposed action plan as well as performance. At present the Bill only means the new Agency reports to Government Ministers in Edinburgh.
The local MSPs amendments also include a requirement for the new Agency’s action plan to be reviewed on an annual basis, the need for all other national agencies such as VisitScotland to work with new agency and set out what they will do to support the economy of the South of Scotland.
Colin Smyth has also proposed that the new Agency must have a Trade Union representative on the new board and the overall board membership must reflect all parts of the South of Scotland.
Colin Smyth said, “Having campaigned for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency for a decade it is important we get the Bill right. That means ensuring that we listen to local organisations to create an Agency that is rooted in the South. As the bill currently stands there is no requirement for the new agency to consult people in the south of Scotland and it would only report to Ministers in Edinburgh. I’m determined to change that to ensure there is proper accountability to the people of the South of Scotland
As the only MSP from the South of Scotland who sits on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee who will be voting on amendments to the bill, I was pleased to hear the views of local stakeholders as the bill passes through Parliament. It is only by working with local businesses and organisations that we will create an Agency that unlocks the huge economic potential in the South of Scotland and grow our economy.”