The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Shambellie House - Assessing the Potential Economic Impact

Shambellie House Trust has commissioned DC Research to carry out an Economic Impact Assessment of the Shambellie House project – assessing the potential impact that the development and delivery of the project will have on the economy of Dumfries and Galloway.




The plan is for Shambellie House to become a centre for day and short residential courses celebrating the best of Dumfries & Galloway – focusing on the arts, culture and the environment. 

The Trust proposes to develop the house as a centre for day and residential courses and workshops on photography, arts, crafts, history, creative writing, drama, wellbeing, wildlife and the environment.  The house will be a resource centre and base from which to explore Dumfries and Galloway more widely, connecting the centre to the wider community and allowing the courses to benefit fully from the environment, culture and history of Dumfries and Galloway.  To achieve this the Trust propose to contract out a number of services to local businesses including catering, grounds maintenance, IT and overspill accommodation.

As part of the economic study, we are seeking the views of businesses in the area about the potential impact of the Shambellie House project and would like to invite you to take part in a survey. 


The survey is available via


Gathering your views is very important to the study – it will enable us to provide an assessment of the potential impact of the project and ensure that the views of local businesses are part of this process.

We would be very grateful if you could take the time to respond to the survey.  It should only take 3-5 minutes to complete, and we are keen to receive responses from a wide range of businesses based in the area.  The deadline for responses is Friday 2nd August 2019.

If you have any queries about the survey or the study, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Connolly, Director at DC Research Ltd via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Stranraer shines during biggest ever SkiffieWorlds

The St Ayles skiff coastal rowing world championship brought personal bests, international agreements, record entries, a proposal of marriage and a footfall of around 30,000 people to Stranraer, as SkiffieWorlds 2019 took to the waters of Loch Ryan. 




The week long international sporting event saw 700 crews of coastal rowers and 55 community built boats descend on Stranraer, with crews travelling from as far as Australia, South Africa, Canada, Tasmania, the USA and mainland Europe to take part. 

Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club, from County Down in Northern Ireland, retained their World Champion title, after placing top of the points table, with nearby Sketrick a close runner up. Top Scottish clubs Eastern and North Berwick placed 3rd and 4th overall, while top international club WSV Woudrichem from the Netherlands placed joint 5th.

Wendi Cuffe Project Manager for SkiffieWorlds 2019 said:

“It’s just so awesome to see all the beautiful boats on Loch Ryan, the beach lined with club gazebos and to see thousands and thousands of people enjoying themselves – the park was packed as more and more people travelled to Stranraer over the course of the week to experience SkiffieWorlds. The feedback from competitors has been absolutely incredible and the potential of Loch Ryan and Stranraer to become an international water sports destination should now be obvious to everyone.

“For too long Stranraer has been talked down and Loch Ryan hasn’t shown its full potential, but we have the opportunity, now, to unlock that incredible potential.  This is one of the most accessible, sheltered and unspoilt sea lochs in Scotland, and its proximity to the town gives events like this an opportunity to be driven by the local community and benefit the local economy. It’s a coming together of local people and local businesses with the stunning natural amphitheatre of Loch Ryan that makes Stranraer the perfect stage for water based sports development.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said:

“Stranraer and Loch Ryan proved to be a stunning backdrop for SkiffieWorlds 2019. There was real energy and excitement for the event and that was demonstrated by the high number of visitors who flocked to Stranraer. The Council invests in major events to create memorable experiences for local people and attract new visitors to our beautiful region, which brings benefit to the regional economy. Thanks to the hard work and skill of the Stranraer Water Sports Association we have achieved all of that last week through Skiffieworlds 2019.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:

“Loch Ryan proved to be the perfect stage for the Stranraer SkiffieWorlds 2019 with a fantastic turnout, both from local spectators and competitors from across the globe. We were delighted to see HRH The Princess Royal adding some further excitement to an already fantastic event. Congratulations to all the crews involved, in particular, Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club for retaining their title as well as Eastern and North Berwick for their respective 3rd and 4th place finishes, putting Scotland on the leaderboard.”

David Davies, Chair of Stranraer Watersports Association, said:

“We regard SkiffieWorlds as a huge success for Stranraer, and a large part of that is because of the coming together of the local community and the rowing community. The organisation of this event has involved more than 150 volunteers and it’s a credit to those volunteers that everything ran so smoothly. Thank you to every single one of them”

Topher Dawson, Treasurer of Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, said: 

“This week we discovered that Stranraer is possibly the perfect venue for this kind of event.  Stranraer is a perfect combination of sheltered water, lovely beach and sea front, and all the accommodation and cafes, bars and local services that you could possibly want.”

Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats who designed the original St Ayles skiff ten years ago, said:

“I didn’t know Stranraer at all well but what they’ve done through the skiffs is absolutely amazing and the organisation of the regatta has been fantastic. It’s great to see the skiffs that I sell play their part in the transformation of so many coastal communities.  I thought I had wild dreams about where this was going to go, but what has happened has gone well beyond anything I could have dreamed ten years ago.”

As well as marking the 10th anniversary of the design of the first St Ayles skiff, SkiffieWorlds 2019 saw the signing of an International Minute of Agreement by four existing national organisations to form an International Class Association. The agreement between associations in Scotland, Ireland, Australia and the Netherlands, was formally signed at the event and will result in international co-operation in promoting the St Ayles skiff class worldwide.   Personal international agreements were made too, with an impromptu proposal of marriage from a Dutch rower from WSV Woudrichem to a Scottish rower at the closing ceremony – she said yes. 

Kees van Vugt from top placed international team WSV Woudrichem, from the Netherlands, said:

“We were the first St Ayles skiff club in the Netherlands, we have 165 rowers in our club and we have 5 skiffs already and we’re building our 6th. St Ayles skiff rowing is growing quickly in the Netherlands and I expect another 10 clubs in the next year. The reason it’s so popular is because we have 140 sloop rowing clubs, and sloop rowing clubs are starting to see the potential of St Ayles skiffs.  Sloops are much bigger than St Ayles skiffs, but they’re long distance whereas St Ayles is more like a sprint, which means there are more possibilities for more people to row a race.

“We love Stranraer and I think the event is well organised, and the view and the panorama is very nice. I think it’s a good thing that the ferries no longer stop here, because now Stranraer is a destination, not just a place to travel through.”

Allana Hardie, Project Assistant at SkiffieWorlds 2019, said:

“I’m loving how SkiffieWorlds is helping local people to see Stranraer in a different light. Hearing people from all over the world talk about our town as an amazing venue for international water sports is really changing how we perceive ourselves as a community. Hosting this event has been a transformative experience for Stranraer, this is only the start.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival to benefit from National Events funding

Stranraer Oyster Festival is set to benefit from £16,000 of funding from EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.


Stranraer Oyster Festival in branded TShirt


It is one of thirteen events and festivals across Scotland to receive a share of £147,576 from Round 41 of EventScotland’s National Programme Fund to enhance event delivery and further develop Scotland’s diverse events portfolio.

Stranraer Oyster Festival will return for a third year in September. The festival has been a huge success for region, repositioning Stranraer as the UK’s Oyster capital and supporting regeneration in the area. This is the second time that the event has received funding through the National Events Programme, with the £16,000 being awarded to support marketing and support.


VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Paula Ward said: “I am delighted that Stranraer Oyster Festival will receive funding from the National Events Programme. In just two years, the festival has become a firm favourite for visitors and locals like and has helped shine the spotlight on the fantastic local produce available in the region.


“The national funded events programme plays a fundamental role, not only in contributing to our diverse portfolio, but in increasing domestic tourism, and delivering real social and economic benefits to local communities across the country.” 


Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development, the community organisation behind Stranraer Oyster Festival, said: “We are looking forward to our third Stranraer Oyster Festival and will be announcing an exciting three-day programme soon. We have a line-up that spans the interests of all ages; from family friendly activities for wee ones to foodies to our Big Oyster Bash. 


“Funding from EventScotland is invaluable in helping us to grow and improve our festival, to ensure that it really shows off the warm hospitality of the people and businesses of Stranraer, as well as showcasing our beautiful landscape and amazing seafood; including our famous oysters.


“But this festival is about more than sharing our oysters with the world - it’s about the story, the passion and the beauty of Stranraer and Loch Ryan. When the sun shines, on a day like today, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the beauty of this corner of Scotland completely blows me away.  Stranraer Oyster Festival was developed in order to put Stranraer on the map as a visitor destination, to show this side of Stranraer to others; and the funding support and event development advice form EventScotland and VisitScotland is helping us to do just that.”  

The National Events Programme is a strategic development programme with eligible events able to bid for a maximum of three rounds of funding. The deadline for the next round of the National Programme is 7 June 2019 with events taking place from January 2020 onwards eligible to apply. Guidelines for entry are available on

DGHP Looks To Deliver Improvements For Tenants As It Partners With Wheatley

Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) has confirmed that it will progress plans to form a constitutional partnership with Wheatley Group.


wheatley.jpg dghp-logo.png


Earlier this year DGHP invited expressions of interest from other housing organisations to form a partnership and three submissions were considered.

DGHP’s Board met and agreed recently that Wheatley, Scotland’s largest Registered Social Landlord (RSL), was the preferred partner. Tenants’ views will now be at the centre of the plans as the two organisations explore further how a partnership will benefit customers and communities in Dumfries and Galloway. This will include a tenant ballot.

DGHP’s Chairman, Bill Robertson, said joining Wheatley would allow DGHP, which owns and manages more than 10,300 homes, to deliver improved services for tenants and accelerated investment in homes as well as creating a stronger future for the organisation.

He said: “Operationally, our performance and customer satisfaction levels are high, our financial position is strong and we are absolutely committed to continuing – and improving - the delivery of high quality services for our tenants.

“Discussions around forming this partnership are now about listening to the views of our tenants, customers, stakeholders and staff and building a strong future for DGHP. We will explore how we can improve services for tenants and homeowners across Dumfries and Galloway.

“It will, however, be for the tenants of DGHP to decide whether the partnership goes ahead through a ballot, following a period of engagement and consultation.”

Wheatley Group was selected as the preferred partner following a rigorous assessment by a sub-group of DGHP’s Board.

Wheatley Group Chairman Alastair MacNish said: “We are delighted the Board of Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership has selected Wheatley as their preferred partner.

“We are looking forward to working with them to explore further how joining Wheatley would benefit tenants and staff in both organisations.

“The views of tenants, staff and stakeholders will be at the centre of the plans with a final decision being made by the tenants of DGHP.”

Future of Car Dealership Hangs in the Balance

One of the biggest car dealerships in the South of Scotland and Cumbria is facing closure with the potential of more than 200 jobs at risk.

Dumfries-based Border Cars said it was in talks with up to three potential buyers.

However, reports indicate a number of staff have already received redundancy notices.




One of the area’s most well-known, family-owned vehicle dealerships, Border Cars, has been trading in the region for over 42 years.

In regards to recent speculation surrounding the company, Border Cars maintains an ongoing business relationship with their funders and are currently in talks with two or three potential buyers in order to try and save as many jobs as possible.

Mike Fusco, Owner of Border Cars “In recent years, despite the challenging market conditions, both management and staff have worked tirelessly to maintain a profitable business. However, with ongoing rising costs, and the tough retail climate for the industry, it is with the greatest of reluctance that we are unable to continue trading. We would like to thank all those employees past and present, who made the business what it was. We would also like to extend our warm appreciation to our many customers who have supported us so loyally. To the present group of staff we extend our utmost gratitude.”

They have launched a closing down sale at all of the company’s dealerships operating throughout Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Ayrshire. With huge discounts available on all vehicles.