News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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

 

MSP HITS OUT AT RIP-OFF RAIL FARE RISE

Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has hit out at the rip-off rail fare rise that will hit passengers in Dumfries and Galloway.

Regulated rail fares increase in line with the retail price index. As a result, a season ticket fare on the Lockerbie to Edinburgh line will cost £5250, an £162 increase. The Lockerbie to Edinburgh route will continue to be one of the most expensive on the whole of the railway network and local passengers will be hit hardest as a result of the rail fares increase.

Other routes in the region will suffer an increase. The Lockerbie to Glasgow route will see a £109 increase with the Dumfries to Glasgow route suffering a £138 increase.

Services from Dumfries to Annan and Carlisle will also see an increase of £41 and £76 respectively.   

Colin Smyth MSP thinks it is simply unfair that passengers in Dumfries and Galloway are burdened with these rip-off rail fares.

Colin Smyth said, “These rail fare rises are unwanted, unwelcome and unnecessary. It is simply unfair that commuters in Dumfries and Galloway are being burdened with these rip-off rail fares for less than satisfactory services.

The cost of rail fares being paid by passengers in Dumfries and Galloway is simply unacceptable with passengers between Lockerbie and Edinburgh having to fork out £5,250 to travel to and from work. On the Nith Valley line we see increasing fares which could price passengers out of using our railways at a time when more people may use the railway to get to work.

Scottish Labour is clear. It’s high time working people stopped having to pay such excessive fares to simply line the pockets of private companies. Only Labour is fighting for a publicly owned railway which will serve the many, not just the few.”

Enterprise Nation supports National Women's Awards

Enterprise Nation have been announced as a gold sponsor for the National Business Women's Awards. The awards are currently open to all business women in the UK. There are 14 categories which celebrate all business women from Third Sector Champions to Corporate Leaders. Applicants can enter up to 3 categories. The grand final will see the winners announced at Wembley Stadium in December.

Emma Jones MBE said "Recognising and celebrating remarkable entrepreneurs is vitally important and these awards do exactly that. Supporting the women who are striding forward and achieving success at the highest level of business will help to usher in a new epoch of strong and relatable role female models, and this is turn will help the women of the future achieve and even surpass their business goals."

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Charlotte Prosser welcomed Enterprise Nation "We are so pleased that a membership organisation with such a great history of empowered women have joined us this year. We look forward to attracting many of their members as entrants and hopefully see them lift many trophies at Wembley".

 

Quarterly National Accounts and Revised GDP Figures for Scotland

The latest Quarterly National Accounts for Scotland have brought welcome news, with Scotland’s GDP revised to higher levels from the initial estimate provided in June 2018.

Commenting on the figures, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

“Revised GDP Figures for Scotland suggest that Scotland’s GDP has outpaced the UK for the first quarter of 2018, with the growth rate increasing to 0.4% on the quarter, relative to the UK rate of 0.2%.   On an annual basis, Scotland’s growth rate is just above the UK’s, at 1.3% compared to 1.2%.   This was mainly driven by an increase in output across the services and production sectors, with construction continuing to observe a drop in output, put at 1.4% in this estimate.

“Positively, despite some of the challenges for manufacturers that we’ve seen highlighted in today’s inflation statistics, the Index of Manufactured Exports contained in the QNAS showcases an increase of 8.7% in the volume of manufactured exports on an annual basis, alongside quarterly growth.  Quarterly growth was mainly driven by increases in exports of food and drink and engineering products.

“This is great news for Scotland, but concerns remain that the construction industry continues to experience falls in output, with GDP also remaining below historical growth trends.  The upcoming Programme for Government presents a critical opportunity for the Scottish Government to invest in our national infrastructure, in order to jumpstart our construction sector and provide the foundation for increased growth rates for the entire economy.  We look forward to the Scottish Government presenting an ambitious programme, in partnership with the private sector, to boost Scotland’s growth.”

 

David and Goliath crowdfunding campaign launched in preparation for Whitesands Flood Protection Public Inquiry

On Friday 17th August, the Save Our Sands campaign will launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds in opposition to the Council’s controversial Whitesands Flood Protection Scheme.

The Whitesands Flood Protection Scheme has caused controversy since its inception back in 2011.  Opposers of the scheme express serious concerns over: the wasteful nature of the £25-35 million proposed to be spent on the scheme (with over £4m already having been spent); the number of car parking spaces the town centre would lose, impacting on businesses on the Whitesands and all surrounding streets (including the High Street, which is already struggling); and the way in which the proposed 2.9m (9ft 6in) barriers would obstruct the view of both the river and the historical Devorgilla Bridge, impacting on both local residents and tourists alike.

On 6th November 2018, a Public Inquiry will begin to consider these objections, allowing both the Council and objectors (made up of residents and local businesses) to state their views.  However, the Public Inquiry has all the makings of a modern-day David and Goliath fight for the people of Dumfries and Galloway, as the Council are estimated to have already spend almost £90,000 on a team of lawyers in preparation for the Public Inquiry, with no funding having been made available by the Scottish Government to support the objectors’ case.

In 2015, a public petition secured over 6,000 signatures in opposition to the proposed scheme.  The Save Our Sands campaign is now asking for the support of local people in fighting their case in the Public Inquiry, with a fundraising target of £5,000. 

John Dowson, a member of the Save Our Sands campaign, urged;

"I am really asking local people to make a donation towards this fighting fund. Every penny will be accounted for and directed towards ordinary people in Dumfries having their voices heard in an effective way. Many objectors have already been silenced for fear of being cross examined by the Council's lawyers, but we are prepared to take them on and win. We need your help to do this well and with dignity. Please consider donating towards this cause”.

The tight timescales involved in the Public Inquiry mean that any supporting documents need to be submitted by the 9th October 2018, forcing a deadline of 14th September to commission professionals.  Any funds secured through the Save Our Sands crowdfunding campaign will therefore be used to secure professional services (including a town planner, hydrology engineer, architect and lawyer) to put forward a strong case in opposition to the Council’s plans.

Once the page goes live at 05:00 on 17th August, supporters are being encouraged to contribute to the cause, by donating through the campaign’s Crowdfunder page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-sands

Every donation, no matter the size, will help to tip the scales in favour of the individuals and businesses opposing the scheme.

For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce comment on Labour Market Figures

Commenting on the release of Labour Market Figures this morning, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“The latest UK labour market statistics illustrate a jobs market which is continually breaking records, while highlighting some of the persistent challenges present in the economy.

“Concerns remain around pay growth and productivity.  The latest data has shown that the rate of pay growth is slowing, with pay remaining below the pre-downturn peak for UK workers.  It appears that the tight labour market is yet to have a commensurate impact on worker’s pay.   The Bank of England justified the latest base rate rise partially through the expectation of higher wages for UK workers, but the data shows that these forecasted rises remain elusive.    

“The latest productivity estimate is encouraging in that it shows increased output per hour across the UK, particularly driven by services and growth in retail, aided by the warm weather.  The rise in productivity is the highest quarterly increase since late 2016, but productivity increases remain weak historically.

    

“The unemployment rate across the UK has not been lower since 1975.  In Scotland, although the unemployment rate has decreased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter, Scotland is one of only four regions in the UK to observe an increase over the year on unemployment, of 0.3 percentage points.  However, the rate remains close to historic lows, at 4.2%. In further positive news, the youth unemployment rate across the UK has fallen to 11.3%, the lowest rate observed since records began in 1992, with Scotland’s rate even lower.

“We remain optimistic that decisive actions to expand the UK’s future industrial capacity, such as the recently announced investments in key manufacturing hubs, as well as an ambitious Programme for Government from the Scottish Government, will set our economy on the right path towards sustainable long-term growth.  It is only by addressing some of the fundamental challenges around productivity, that we will see the sustained pay growth across Scotland that will benefit all of civic society.”