Eleanor Scott, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has recommended in Parliament that the Scottish Executive needs a specialist unit to handle its policy for decentralisation of its departments, and that unit should be based in Highlands and Islands.
Dr Scott, speaking in today’s debate on Executive relocation policy, said, “The SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) relocation has caused a tension between ensuring that all of Scotland is involved in the governance of the country, which I applaud, and ensuring that our Executive is scrupulous in applying good employment practice. The Executive must achieve greater openness, consistency and transparency in decision making about relocations of its departments.”
Commenting on the parliament’s finance committee report on relocation, Dr Scott said, “I support the idea that all departments or non-departmental public bodies that have not relocated in five years should prepare a report on the viability of relocation or decentralisation and I also support the setting up of a relocation unit to assess these reports. In the spirit of the policy, I suggest the new unit be located in the Highlands and Islands.”
Calling for the unit to make sustainability a higher priority, Dr Scott said, “I am pleased that socioeconomic factors and sustainable transport links are taken into account as criteria for location reviews, but I would like to see this taken further. The Scottish Executive needs to ensure that when an organisation moves, sustainability is improved in terms of greater energy efficiency, lower CO2 emissions, less waste produced, more reuse and recycling, fewer road miles travelled (in commuting and during work), and more materials sourced locally. I also fully agree with the report’s request for information as to how many of the jobs created or relocated in SNH’s move have been filled by local people.”
Dr Scott has also called for the Executive to seek more opportunities for distributed working and not just wholesale relocation of centralised departments. She said, “SNH is already a highly devolved organisation – it has nearly 40 area offices or micro sites throughout the country. It would have been possible to relocate posts gradually as vacancies arose, dispersing more of the organisation out from the centre.”
(Note: this item was originally published on Eleanor Scott’s Parliamentary website.)