South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will establish a South of Scotland enterprise and skills body.
Ms McAlpine has repeatedly highlighted the need for such a regional body during her time in parliament. Today’s announcement forms part of the Scottish Government’s Enterprise & Skills Review. In her submission to the consultation Ms McAlpine argued for a different focus for the south of Scotland.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said: “I welcome this news as it’s something I’ve been calling for over a number of years - both when I was a member of the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee during the last parliament and in my own submission to the Scottish Governments’ review on enterprise and skills agencies.
“During the last parliament I campaigned for the South of Scotland to receive more focus from Scottish Enterprise, and spoke directly to ministers and executives of Scottish Enterprise. While many enterprise functions have been devolved to local councils by the SNP government, I still believe that the enterprise agency in the South of Scotland should be more focussed on supporting smaller companies, and helping to achieve community development as well as growth. I’m delighted that the SNP Scottish Government has taken these points on board.
“We’re fortunate to live in such a unique region but clearly this comes with its own economic and social challenges. This is why today’s announcement is so significant. You only have to look at how rural areas of the Highlands and Islands have benefitted from targeted European and other investment to imagine how the South could thrive.
“And this could not come at a better time, as we watch the Westminster government unleash economic turmoil on our communities. Earlier this year I had welcomed the creation of a new European statistical designation for the South of Scotland. This could have resulted in more European money coming to our region. But with their dogged pursuit of Brexit, the Westminster Tories are determined to see our region lose out – against the will of local voters.
“Meanwhile the SNP Scottish Government is committed to doing everything within its power to improve opportunities for our region.”