CONCERN has been raised over the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency being unable to appoint a boss.

The Agency, which was rubber-stamped earlier year, will be responsible for driving ahead the economy of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

And it is hoped will bring benefits similar to those the Highlands and Islands Agency has created for northern parts of the country.

But despite a lengthy recruitment process, which included a number of interviews, the body has failed to find a new Chief Executive.

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has raised the issue at Holyrood.

He told us: “It’s a blow that the Scottish Government have failed to appoint a Chief Executive for the new Agency and there’s a real irony that one of issues many organisations in the south of Scotland raise, is not being able to recruit.

“Appointing a temporary interim Chief Executive from within the Scottish Government is far from ideal.

"However, I hope in the long term it may it work in favour of the new Agency as the skills required for someone to run the Agency may well be different to the person setting it up, so new people may come forward when the permanent post is advertised.

"Whoever is appointed must ensure that the new Agency is rooted in the South and focused on local solutions to the economic challenges we face in our area not simply what the Government wants them to do."

The South of Scotland Partnership was founded more than two years ago to lay the foundations for the new Agency.

Under the guidance of Professor Russel Griggs and Scottish Borders Council's Rob Dickson, the Partnership has identified and supported projects such as the new textiles school in Hawick, the Trimontium Museum in Melrose, and digital learning across Borders College's campuses.

Although a Chief Executive hasn't been appointed, advertising for membership of the new Agency’s board will go ahead later this month, with a view to appointing the first members before the end of the year.

Mr Smyth added: “It is crucial that the appointment of board members is an open and transparent process.

"If the Agency is going to succeed, its Board needs a breadth of members from different sectors and communities across the South of Scotland and it must have the respect and confidence of the local businesses and organisations who ultimately the Agency is being set up to support."

After the issue of failing to appoint a Chief Executive was raised in the Scottish Parliament, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing responded.

He said: "The recruitment campaign for the post of chief executive began on August 14.

"The role was widely advertised for four weeks across multiple channels including press adverts, online job boards, diversity and equality websites and supported by a radio advertising campaign.

"We received applications from across the UK and beyond from those in the public, private and third sectors.

It was clear throughout the recruitment process that this key and critical appointment required someone with a wide range of skills and experience, able both to establish a new organisation and to lead it over the longer term.

"The final stage of the recruitment process took place on October 22.

"The selection panel did not feel that the potential candidates were able to demonstrate that they met the breadth of the requirements for this important role.

"We will therefore not be appointing a candidate from this recruitment round."

The Scottish Government is hoping to appoint an interim chief executive to help with the agency being established over the next 12 months.