Highlands & Islands

Political row over Highlands and Islands Enterprise

A Labour MSP has backed a council's demand that it take over Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) functions and finance on the Western Isles.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has claimed the development agency has lost touch with local business.

Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart said local concern needed to be addressed.

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has said he anticipated HIE would continue on the islands.

Western Isles Council has asked the Scottish government to transfer the public agency's responsibilities and budget for the islands.

An agency spokeswoman said HIE had a historic commitment to the whole of the Outer Hebrides which was "as strong today as it ever had been".

Mr Stewart said there was a "very good and strong argument" by the comhairle.

He said he would be discussing the matter further with his colleagues.

Highland Council's political leaders, meanwhile, have voiced their support for the continued existence of HIE although they said its management structure should be changed.

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