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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Pensions quango moves to Borders
Office interior
Some 175 members of staff are due to move
Plans to move one of the Scottish Executive's quangos to the Borders have been revealed.

The executive said the Scottish Public Pensions Agency would move to Galashiels once the lease on its existing premises in Edinburgh has expired.

It is hoped that moving one of the executive's quangos - public bodies which run a large part of the services in Scotland - will boost the Borders economy.

Next year's relocation will involve the transfer of about 175 jobs and First Minister Henry McLeish said it reflected an aspiration to see the whole of Scotland benefit from the spread of public service jobs.

Woman at work
The Borders has been badly hit by job losses
Mr McLeish said: "We want to bring the Scottish Executive closer to the people of Scotland and relocating civil service jobs is one way in which we can do this."

He said the pensions agency move would boost the town and the area, with benefits for employment, retailing, housing, transport and schools.

The move was announced by Finance Minister Angus MacKay as part of an executive relocation policy in which there is a "presumption" in favour of locating quangos outside Edinburgh, and moving existing bodies out of Edinburgh when possible.

Mr MacKay announced last year that a detailed study would be carried out for six quangos, including the pensions agency.

The others were the Health Education Board for Scotland, Sportscotland, the Scottish health service's Common Services Agency, the Scottish Arts Council and the Registers of Scotland.

Union doubts

Decisions on these five are due between now and the end of 2004.

But civil service unions showed little enthusiasm for a move to Galashiels.

Eddie Reilly, Scottish secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union said his union welcomed the creation of jobs in the Borders but had raised concerns to ministers about leaving Edinburgh where much of the pensions industry is concentrated.

And he said the move could only go ahead if commitments to no compulsory transfers and no compulsory redundancies were met in full.

"Our union is not opposed to relocation in principle but we are not in the business of creating employment in other parts of Scotland at the cost of unemployment or enforced transfers from Edinburgh," said Mr Reilly.

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