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RECORD VIEW; A serious business.

TO the folk of Argyll, much of Scotland looks like another country right now.

Not for them the record levels of employment.

And as for soaring city house prices, they can forget it.

Campbeltown and other places in the area are struggling just to stay afloat.

They have been hit by a string of factory closures but have attracted precious little to take their place.

So it is easy to understand the fury of local businessmen towards Argyll & Islands Enterprise.

The agency exists to boost jobs by supporting local firms and persuading others to move in.

But it seems to be at its most effective when it is supporting itself.

It applied to itself for a feasibility study into extending its offices.

And, surprise surprise, it was awarded pounds 12,000.

In all, nearly half the grants AIE awarded in the last seven months of last year were to AIE.

Much of this, as AIE's senior partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise claims, may well have been for work done on behalf of other companies.

But what about the businesses - usually the smaller local firms - left to apply for AIE help without AIE doing the paperwork for them?

It does not look like a level playing field, and AIE's poor track record should set alarm bells over any system which might be open to abuse.

The agency should be giving a strong, dynamic lead in one of Scotland's economic blackspots.

If it can't win the confidence of local businesses, it stands no chance.
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Title Annotation:Record View
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 18, 2002
Words:252
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