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


Get a Pitch at the Christmas Light Switch On

Dumfries and Galloway Council is planning for the Dumfries Christmas Lights Switch On and market on Sunday, November 26, 2017. 

As last year, a key part of the day will be the marketplace, featuring local businesses and traders.

Anyone wanting their business to participate in this great retail opportunity, should book a place as soon as possible. Stalls, costing only £40, will be located along Dumfries High Street and be equipped with a canopy.
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, chair of Nithsdale Area committee, said: “This is a great opportunity to for local businesses to showcase their products and services at a popular event with Dumfries town centre bustling with families.”

For book a market stall or find out more, contact Debbie Macdonald, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or t: 030 33 33 3000.
Switch-on afternoon, will feature live entertainment, at the Plainstanes on the High Street, showcasing local talent, school pupils, and excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, the The Guild of Players, Theatre Royal Dumfries pantomime. Then the lights will be switched on and Santa Claus will appear.

A New Events Strategy for Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway Council has adopted a new Events Strategy for the region.

The new Strategy follows on from the inaugural Major Festivals and Events Strategy and will cover the period 2018-2021.

The Council has calculated that the new regional events strategy will provide an economic stimulus in excess of £30m for Dumfries and Galloway over the next four years. This boost to the economy can be secured through investment in a series of events that have developed sustainably over the past four years or have strong growth prospects.

The Strategy provides ring-fenced funding for seven ‘Signature Events’ in recognition of their sporting, cultural and economic importance to Dumfries and Galloway. The seven events are the Big Burns Supper, the Arts Festival, the Scottish Rally, Spring Fling, Wigtown Book Festival and World Championship Ice Hockey. The new Events Strategy therefore protects and supports these events for the people of Dumfries and Galloway for the foreseeable future.

Separate to the funding allocated for the Seven Signature Events is the Major Events Strategic Fund, which will open for applications on the 30 October 2017. This competitive fund has played a pivotal role in the growth of superb events such as Electric Fields, the Eden Festival and the Stranraer Oyster Festival in recent years.

The new Strategy helps position Dumfries and Galloway as the best place in rural Scotland in which to plan, manage, deliver and visit great festivals and events.

Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion said, “We are continuing to invest in major events projects because the compelling evidence is that they are essential to our tourism development as a region, and are a wonderful aspect of local life. Our Seven Signature Events are international quality events, that help profile Dumfries and Galloway and put us on the map.

This new Strategy can also act as a catalyst for employment and business development, and encourage young people to stay in the region – we believe in the creativity and wellbeing that participation in great events projects brings.  I would urge the private sector to work with public sector partners to build upon the investment from the Council, and drive forward business and tourism development now that we are helping to safeguard this vital sector.”

Chief Executive Officer of DGChamber Brian Richardson said, “The success of the Major Festivals and Events Strategy should be greatly celebrated, the continuation of the strategy will provide an important economic boost for the region. The range of events that are supported shows that Dumfries & Galloway has something for everyone and draws new audiences in from outside the region, which in-turn increases occupancy rates. DGChamber will  work closely with the Council to promote sponsorship and profile raising opportunities for businesses across the region associated with this exciting Strategy.”

The partner agencies of the Council in delivering the Strategy are VisitScotland, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of the Arts, Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway and the Crichton Institute.

Stranraer Sheep Farmer Supports In-store Sampling Activities

A local farmer joined Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) sampling team at a Lidl store in Stranraer this week to encourage shoppers to add Scotch Lamb PGI to their weekly shopping lists.

Danny Hair, who farms in partnership with his wife Sian and parents Lamont and Sally at Drumbredan Farm, joined the sampling team in his local Lidl as part of the Scotland-wide marketing campaign behind the Scotch Lamb PGI.

The Hair family run 1100 Blackface and Scotch Mule ewes on the 1400-acre farm, near Stranraer. Danny Hair said he had enjoyed joining the sampling team in his local Lidl store and the opportunity to engage with consumers and inspire them about the hard work and care which goes into rearing top quality lamb.

“We are extremely proud of the Scotch Lamb we produce and it was great to join the QMS team giving shoppers a taste of this fantastic product. The hope is to remind those who don’t buy lamb regularly just how budget-friendly and versatile it is – perfect for a quick, quality mid-week meal,” said Mr Hair.

Retailers across the country have shown strong support for both the “Wham Bam Lamb” campaign this year, with QMS hosting over 100 sampling events in retailers throughout Scotland.

The Lidl sampling also saw some delicious Specially Selected Pork serves being offered to shoppers to enjoy, along with the tasty Scotch Lamb samples.

Suzie Carlaw, Marketing Controller at QMS, said: “This year we’re taking the opportunity to really inspire Scots about our national larder and to try new recipes using the produce which our farmers are very proud to produce.

“We have a great partnership with Lidl, who have welcomed our sampling team to several stores across Scotland to promote our Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork, which are available in store, every day.”

Richard Bourns, Head of Food Buying at Lidl said: “At Lidl, we source the best Scottish meat to make sure our customers can buy quality, locally sourced products, year-round.

“Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork are fantastic brands which we source from sustainable and responsible suppliers. We are delighted to support the promotions of these delicious Scottish products and bring them to the forefront of shoppers’ minds.

“We’re pleased to be working with Quality Meat Scotland deliver excellent quality, fresh products for our customers.”

For more information on Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork, recipe ideas and inspiration, please visit: /


South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged the Government to come up with funding to ensure that phase 2 of the Dumfries Learning Town project can go ahead.

The local MSP used Education Question in the Scottish Parliament on 27 September to press Education Secretary John Swinney on future funding for school buildings when he asked "the Scottish Government what plans it has to provide additional funding for the schools for the future programme to allow phase 2 of the Dumfries learning town project to go ahead".

In reply John Swinney said, "Through the £1.8 billion Scotland’s schools for the future programme, Dumfries and Galloway Council has been awarded significant funding of £24.5 million for the north-west campus and St Joseph’s college, which form part of the Dumfries learning town project, and Dalbeattie high school.

We recognise that there is more work to be done on the school estate, which is why we will introduce new proposals to build on the success of the programme. Options are being developed and we will announce details later this year.

Colin Smyth replied by asking, "The projects the Cabinet Secretary has mentioned—such as the new North-West Campus—are part of phase 1 of that project. Phase 2 proposes a new Dumfries High School, the refurbishment of Dumfries Academy and new Loreburn, Laurieknowe and Noblehill primaries, not to mention innovative work that will take place with partners in business and further and higher education to make Dumfries truly the learning town. Does the Cabinet Secretary agree that the project will transform education in Dumfries, and will he ensure that phase 2 becomes a reality by making it a priority for future Government funding?

John Swinney responded, " I am very familiar with the issues. I visited Dumfries High School just the other week, and I saw, and was briefed on, the work that is being undertaken on the learning town project. I recognise the very good work that is being done at the local level to advance such a proposition. As I indicated in my initial answer, we are considering options in relation to the development of the schools for the future programme, and further announcements will be made by the Government in due course, when the details are to hand. However, I hear the points that Mr Smyth makes about the Dumfries learning town proposal".

Meanwhile Colin Smyth recently joined local Labour Councillors for North West Dumfries , Ronnie Nicholson and David McKie on a visit to the North West Campus  to mark the start of the 12 month countdown to the opening of the new school, with staff and pupils from the existing schools in Lochside set to move into the campus in September 2018.

Commenting on the new campus that will replace the existing Maxwelltown High School, Lochside Primary School and St Ninian’s Primary as well as Elmbank, Colin Smyth said, "The start of the 12 month countdown to the full opening of the new North West Campus is a really exciting time . Despite the significant work that needs to be done, you can already tell from touring the campus that the facilities will be fantastic and will really transform education in north west Dumfries. The campus is a key part of phase 1 of Dumfries Learning Town project along with the refurbishment of St Joseph's College and the Bridge Learning Hub, which are all set to open in the next year or so. However, that is only the start. We need to ensure phase 2, including a new Dumfries High School and refurbished Academy, also happen over the next few years. Although the majority of funding will come from the council, it’s vital that the Scottish Government stumps up its fair share. It is clearly now on the Education Secretary’s’ radar and I’ll keep the pressure up until hopefully we see a positive announcement in the next few months”

Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said, "It was good to visit the campus again and find out that it is very much still on track to open next year. I'm keen that as the work nears completion, the campus is opened up to the whole community to visit. This is a massive investment by the council and I think people in North West Dumfries will be truly blown away by the facilities local children and young people will soon be able to enjoy at the campus. Along with the Bridge Learning Hub in Goldie Park, it is a real boost to education and regeneration in the area.”

The new North West campus will include new sports facilities for the school but also an Maxwelltown Community Sports Hub as well as external sport pitches (including an all-weather pitch and a grass pitch) and a public library that can be used by the community.

The importance of the new campus for the wider community was highlighted by Councillor David McKie who said, "The campus will include a new public library and sport and leisure facilities open to everyone. It will mean the campus really will be at the heart of North West Dumfries enjoyed not only by the pupils but the whole community”.

Youth employment target met four years ahead of schedule

The Scottish Government has fulfilled its commitment to reduce youth unemployment by 40%, four years ahead of schedule.

Analysis of the latest ONS Labour Force Survey dataset from January to March shows the level of youth unemployment excluding full-time education has fallen to 27,000 in 2017, from 52,000 in 2014, a decrease of 48.3%.

The headline target in the Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce strategy was to reduce youth unemployment excluding those in full-time education by 40% between 2014 and 2021. 

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“These figures are fantastic news and testament to our work to support young people in the labour market, prepare them for work and equip them with the skills the economy needs.

“Our Developing the Young Workforce programme has proven hugely successful, strengthening and diversifying our offer for young people as they progress through their education, alongside improving careers advice, work experience and modern apprenticeship opportunities.

“The most recent labour market data shows Scotland to have the lowest youth unemployment rate out of all the UK nations, and amongst the lowest in the EU. However, despite these encouraging results there is much more we can and will do to ensure our good work in this area continues.

“Our future focus will now be on expanding the range of opportunities available to young people. In particular we will continue to build on both the successful expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme and the initial success of Foundation Apprenticeships and Graduate Level Apprenticeships as pathways into work. This is in addition to delivering more activity for school pupils through colleges, and further strengthening partnerships between education and employers.

“Additionally, last week we announced Fair Start Scotland contracts up to the value of £96 million to create fairer employment support services, helping people facing barriers to enter the labour market and stay in work.”