Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has now got a new Chair.
Professor Lorne Crerar was today appointed to the post by Scottish Ministers.
Lorne is a founding partner and Chairman of Scottish commercial law firm, Harper Macleod LLP, which has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.
He has held the part-time Chair of Banking Law at Glasgow University since 1997, was formerly Deputy Chairman of Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and was one of three Chairmen of the Housing Improvement Task Force which completed its work in 2002.
He was appointed as Convener of the Standards Commission in June 2003 and resigned from this office in September 2006 to take up the Chair of the ‘Independent Review of Regulation, Audit, Inspection and Complaints Handling of Public Services in Scotland’ – which reported in September 2007.
He was then Lorne a non-Executive Director of the Scottish Government Justice Programme Board until November 2010.
Cynical wits might say he was clearly there to be assigned to a new post.
Professor Crerar has been a member of the HIE Board since April 2008 and is also Chair of the HIE Risk and Assurance Committee.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise is the economic and community development agency for an area covering more than half of Scotland’s land mass, stretching from Shetland to the southern tip of Argyll and including almost 100 inhabited islands.
In collaboration with other partners in the public sector, its aim is to support the delivery of the Scottish Government’s stated purpose, ‘to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.’
It has had and still has its critics, with its focus often seen to be aimed more at the soft side of its loose brief rather than demonstrating a hard edged business-savvy push for muscular economic development in a place that badly needs just that.
There is a real problem with public sector enterprise agencies in general in the lack of high level and deep rooted first hand experience of business management amongst staffing. To date, HIE has survived a couple of threats to its existence.
However, on the appointment of its new Chair, Cabinet Secretary for Finance Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney says: ‘Professor Crerar has a clear vision for the economic success of the Highlands and Islands. He has significant private sector experience, a proven track record in bringing about significant change and is keen to work closely with business and other parts of the public sector to boost the economy.
‘As an existing board member of HIE, Professor Crerar, can also provide continuity in taking forward the Government Economic Strategy. I wish Lorne every success in his new role.’
The appointment is for a three years period, running from 20th February 2012 to 28th February 2015. It is part-time – one and a half days a week – and is paid at £38,721 pounds per annum for that time commitment.
Professor Crerar does not hold any other Ministerial public appointments and has not declared any political activity.
A Chair is not the engine of change in any case but Professor Crerar’s background, before he turned his attention to quangoing, clearly has much to offer.