Quangowatch: No 1: Scottish Enterprise Tayside: A new guide to those unelected quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations that run our lives

What does it do? Spends pounds 24.3m of taxpayers' money each year on training, business development and environmental improvement in Dundee and Tayside.

Links to the Conservative Party? Its board is appointed by the national directors of Scottish Enterprise who are appointed by Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland.

Chairman designate Jimmy Millar was at a fund-raising dinner organised by the Scottish Conservative Central Office last month at the Invercarse Hotel, Dundee. Also on the guest list were other Dundee quangocrats, J Stuart Fair, a solicitor and chairman of the Dundee Port Authority and Dundee Teaching Hospitals Trust, Dr Donald Grant, former chairman of the Tayside Health Board, and John Beaton, the head of a local engineering firm, recently awarded an the MBE by John Major.

Conflicts of interest: Charles Fairley, who was the chief executive, was and is non-executive chairman of Medical Laser Technologies. He resigned from his pounds 58,000-a-year job with Scottish Enterprise Tayside on 27 January after a two-month inquiry into his business connections. A co-director of Medical Laser Technologies had been hired as a consultant by the quango to investigate Laser Ecosse, an ailing local firm. 'Nothing illegal happened but there was thought to be a potential conflict of interest,' said a Scottish Enterprise Tayside spokesman.

Meanwhile, Mr Millar, the chairman designate, said 10 days ago he would not take over as chairman in April. He is chairman of the Scottish supermarket chain William Low. The quango had announced it would help rival retailers J Sainsbury set up on the outskirts of Dundee, and Mr Millar said this was 'too much of a contradiction.'

Accountability? Just one of the 12-member board is a local councillor. Press and public are barred from its meetings. Details of the companies and individuals that receive public money from Scottish Enterprise Tayside are not published.

Annoyed by the collapse in accountability in local government? Call us on 071-415 1396

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