The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.



South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has criticised the Scottish Government for an "utterly unacceptable delay" in establishing a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency- after it was revealed today (22 June) that the new Agency won't be set up until 2020.

The news came as the Government published Phase 2 of their Enterprise and Skills Review. The announcement of a three-year delay comes despite the fact that Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council both proposed a model to the Government based on a local government "committee" using existing legislation that could have seen a full Agency established within a matter of months rather than having to pass a new law.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said:

"Having campaigned for such an Agency for years and been heavily involved in the development of the joint proposals from Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders councils for how that Agency should look, I am furious that the Government is delaying setting up a full Agency for another three years. A proposal was put to the Government that would have seen a new Agency up and running within months using the local councils under current laws but clearly the Government's obsession with centralisations means they want to control everything including this new Agency.

The document they have published simply cuts and pastes the one the two councils produced in relation to the boundaries of the new body and what it's aims should be. But the Scottish Government hasn't proposed anything itself other than dither and delay. It is now nine months since they announced they would establish an Agency but we won't even see legislation published until next year never mind a new Agency. There isn't a single word of detail on what interim arrangements will look like; who will be on the new agency or crucially what resources it will have. You have to seriously ask what the Scottish Government have been doing since they started this review. The economy of the South of Scotland needs more support now not three years' time".


WomenWhoLead: Industry first as new Scottish mentoring programme launched for women-led businesses

'Women's Business Mentoring' launches nationwide today (1st June 2017) with some of the most recognisable and successful Scottish businesswomen leading the way. This initiative brings together the connectivity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, Women's Enterprise Scotland and Scotland's leading women entrepreneurs: Liz Cameron OBE of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Carolyn Currie of Women's Enterprise Scotland, Jeanette Forbes of PCL Group, Poonam Gupta OBE of PG Paper, Marie Macklin CBE of Macklin Partnerships and Petra Wetzel of WEST Brewery.

'Women's Business Mentoring' will match mentors with mentees to create a self-supporting, collaborative community who understand the specific challenges faced by women in business, whether it is accessing finance, overcoming gender bias or managing family responsibilities alongside a business. A dedicated website will help prospective businesses find a mentor, attend events and access key resources. In addition, women in business can also sign up as mentors:

Commenting on the launch of Women's Business Mentoring:

Carolyn Currie, Chief Operating Officer, Women's Enterprise Scotland, said:
"Research shows that women seek out business advice in the form of mentoring and coaching rather than on a consultancy basis and we know there is a clear need for more business women as mentors, since mixed-sex mentoring relationships may not always be of benefit for everyone. Only 20% of Scottish SME's are majority-led by women, yet we know that if women started businesses at the same rate as men, this would contribute an additional £7.6bn to Scotland's economy. I am honoured to play a part in this inspiring initiative and I look forward to collaborating and creating a lasting impact for women in business."

Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

"Our approach is innovative and fresh and is all about tapping into the talents and experience of successful women entrepreneurs and matching them with ambitious, driven and aspiring women in business. I am delighted to have Scotland's most recognisable and talented business women on board, which reflects the strength of female talent in Scotland, but also our commitment to give back to Scotland, grow our economy and contribute to our local communities."

Petra Wetzel, Entrepreneur & Chief Executive of West Brewery said:

"Anything that can connect women in business and enable growth in their business is good for Scotland and good for the economy. From my experience, having a Mentor in any aspect of your life can add immense value to personal development. I view mentoring as a valuable asset which can bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight to a business. I look forward to personally mentoring aspiring women in business and giving back to the business community."

Poonam Gupta OBE, Chief Executive of PG Paper and recipient of Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Scottish SME Business Awards, said:

"Mentoring is all about collaboration, unlocking ideas and talents that an add value to your business and to your life. For many women in business, these talents and ideas can often be overlooked, holding them back and preventing contributions to our economy. That's why this campaign is so appealing. It's led by women in business and is for women in business. I have seen first-hand how a business mentor can bring new perspectives, new solutions and new techniques to overcoming challenges and enabling success, and I look forward to doing exactly that with Scotland's next generation of women in business."


The Scottish Government today (13 June) confirmed that they have so far failed to allocate a single penny of a £6m "pledge" of funding to support the regeneration of Stranraer Waterfront - and the funding won't even be confirmed until the Government has carried out a spending review at the end of the year.

The confirmation came in reply to a written Parliamentary question from South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

Commenting on the response, Colin Smyth said, "There has been a lot of claims lately that part of the £6m pledge of funding for Stranraer Waterfront from the Scottish Government was already being spent. The truth is, over a year since this pledge was made, not a penny is being spent from this £6m pledge and in fact not a penny has even been handed over by the Scottish Government".

"What is worrying is not only has the Government not allocated any money, they don't know where the funding will come from to meet the pledge because it isn't even contained in this year's Government budget and now they won't even make a commitment that it will be found at all because they are now carrying out a full spending review which could well see the pledge axed".

"This is a real betrayal of the people of Stranraer by the SNP Government and shows just how far down their list of priorities Dumfries and Galloway is".

"Their Parliamentary answer tries to cover up their utter failure when it comes to supporting the regeneration of Stranraer Waterfront by listing totally unrelated previous spending- which is peanuts from a £30bn a year Government budget and most of spend they list was actually allocated before the SNP were even elected in 2007. It's now 5 years since the council approved the design brief for the East Pier and Port Rodie frontage and so far Dumfries and Galloway Council have spent £5.8m on a range of projects such as the West Pier and regeneration of Agnew Park. However, given the appalling state of the economy at the moment we know it is going to take millions more public money to fill the gap that simply won't be filled by private sector development and the Scottish Government need to step up to the mark."

"We need to keep the pressure on the Scottish Government to make sure when they carry out their spending review they don't ditch the £6m pledge for Stranraer and they ensure that the money comes to Dumfries and Galloway as a matter of urgency"

Sanquhar Public Improvement Plans To Go On Show

Dumfries and Galloway Council is holding a Drop-In Session at A' the Airts, Sanquhar on Tuesday 20 June, for members of the public to view and comment on the design proposals for the Sanquhar Environmental Improvements Project. The session will run from 11am to 6pm.

The design proposals relate to the area around the Tolbooth and the car park site at Harvey's Wynd, both adjacent to Sanquhar High Street. The updated design proposals take into account comments received at a previous event in December 2016, when initial proposals were presented.

Chairman of the Council's Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Archie Dryburgh commented ahead of the drop in session;

"The Sanquhar Environmental Improvements Project is part of the Upper Nithsdale Regeneration Plan- 2016, which sets out a shared vision for the future of Upper Nithsdale and identifies projects that will support the local economy, enhance the town and village centres, and improve the quality of the public realm.

Our Council listened to the views of the public and other key stakeholders at the event late last year, and we hope these updated project plans take the feedback received at that event into account. Please come along if you can to see the plans for yourself and speak to our officers who will be on hand to answer any questions."

The Upper Nithsdale Regeneration Plan can be viewed at;

UK House Price Index April 2017

The latest publication of the monthly UK House Price Index (UK HPI) shows that the average price of a property in Scotland in April 2017 was £145,734 – an increase of 6.8 per cent on April in the previous year and an increase of 5.4 per cent when compared to the previous month. This compares to a UK average of £220,094, which was an increase of 5.6 per cent compared to April in the previous year and an increase of 1.6 per cent when compared to the previous month.

Registers of Scotland corporate director John King said: "This release marks the one-year anniversary of the first publication of the UK HPI. During this time, the HPI has been well received and we have been liaising with users around its ongoing development. Feedback has already resulted in a number of enhancements, details of which are outlined in the anniversary news release, published on behalf of the HPI working group by our partner HM Land Registry.

"Average prices this April showed the highest year-on-year increase since March 2015, when the average price increased by 10.4 per cent compared to the year before, and there have been increases in every month since March 2016 when compared with the same month of the previous year."

The volume of residential sales in Scotland in February 2017 was 5,662 – an increase of 2.8 per cent on February 2016 but a decrease of 10.2 per cent on the previous month. This compares with annual decreases in sales volumes of 18.2 per cent in England, 8.8 per cent in Wales and 28.5 per cent in Northern Ireland. This is the third consecutive month in which Scotland volumes figures, when compared with the same month of the previous year, have shown an increase while volumes in the rest of the UK have decreased.

Mr King added: "Sales volumes figures for February 2017 showed an increase in Scotland of 2.8% when compared with February 2016. This is also up by 10.7 per cent when compared with February 2015 and up by 32.1 per cent when compared with February 2013, but down by 1.3 per cent when compared with February 2014."

The top five local authorities in terms of sales volumes were Glasgow City (722 sales), the City of Edinburgh (562 sales), Fife (356 sales), North Lanarkshire (351 sales) and South Lanarkshire (313 sales).

The biggest price increase when comparing April 2017 with April 2016 was in East Dunbartonshire where the average price increased by 11.2 per cent to £202,466. The biggest decrease was again in the City of Aberdeen, where prices fell by 4.3 per cent to £167,630.

Across Scotland, all property types showed an increase in average price in April 2017 when compared with the same month in the previous year. Detached properties showed the biggest increase, rising by 8.0 per cent to £252,492.

The average price in April 2017 for property purchased by a first time buyer was £117,556 – an increase of 5.9 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year. The average price for a property purchased by a former owner occupier was £174,848 – an increase of 7.5 per cent on the previous year.

The average price for a cash sale was £138,425 – an increase of 10.6 per cent on the previous year – while the average price for property purchased with a mortgage was £150,688 – an increase of 6.4 per cent on the previous year.