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



South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned the UK and Scottish Governments that the region must not be short changed over funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal.

The local MSP has released figures that show that growth deals in other parts of Scotland have been worth between £436 and £800 per person in the regions affected. With a population of over 1 million people across the Borderlands, that would mean an equivalent funding allocation of between £472 million and £865 million from the UK and Scottish Governments if the same level of support is made available for a Borderlands Growth Deal.

The comments come as the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposals were submitted by the five local authorities – Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council – last week. The proposals include redevelopment of the site at Chapelcross, near Annan and investment in the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in the Scottish Borders.


Colin Smyth said, “So far we have seen five growth deals across Scotland, which have been worth between £436 and £800 per person in the regions affected. It is vital that the UK and Scottish Governments match the ambition of the councils submitting the growth deal and deliver a similar level of funding to other areas.  That would mean between £472million and £865 million being given to the Borderlands deal. Anything less from the UK and Scottish Government’s would mean our region being short changed and that just isn’t good enough”.

“It’s important to put the Growth Deal in perspective. The funding is a fraction of the cuts the local councils have been forced to make due to reduction in Government funding. Any Growth Deal would also be spread over ten years across five local authorities, so it isn’t going to tackle all the significant economic challenges we face. But it could make a real difference if the level of funding is fair and that means we must get the same level if support other parts of Scotland have received when the UK and Scottish Government’s announce their budgets later this year”

The Borderlands Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities in South Scotland and the North of England to promote economic growth and competitiveness of the area that straddles the Scotland-England border. The initiative was established following a report in 2013 entitled, ‘Borderlands: can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish Autonomy?’ The Councils have developed a series of projects as part of a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal for consideration by the Scottish and UK Governments.


South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Connectivity and Transport has accused ScotRail bosses and the Scottish Government of ignoring South West Scotland in planned new timetable changes.


ScotRail yesterday (1 October) hailed the new timetables as a “another milestone” in service improvements and SNP Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the changes would deliver “an improved experience for passengers”. However, the changes only cover the Central Belt and North of Scotland, with NO planned additional services in South West Scotland.


Colin Smyth said, “Once again the South West is the forgotten part of Scotland in the eyes of rail bosses and the SNP Government. To hail these new timetables as a milestone when a huge part of Scotland, which has the worst services, has been completely ignored, is a real insult to long suffering rail passengers in the area.


We have actually seen services on the Nith Valley line cut recently with many direct services to Newcastle axed. There remains a huge three-hour gap between 9 am and lunchtime when there are no services whatsoever from Dumfries north through Upper Nithsdale, New Cumnock and Auchinleck to Glasgow.


Commuters in Stranraer who have witnessed direct services to Glasgow reduced in recent years and who currently don’t have any services to and from Ayr or Glasgow will rightly be angered by the statements from ScotRail and the Scottish Government. With the current chaos in Ayr Station as a result of the failure to act on warnings over the state of the former Ayr Station Hotel, the services in the area are far from a milestone in improvements


There remain no direct services between Kilmarnock and Edinburgh and only a limited number of direct trains from Ayr to our capital.


These new timetables were a chance to boost services for people living in the south west, but ScotRail and the Scottish Government have failed miserably and continue to ignore the area. When they claim they are building the best railway Scotland has ever had, they obviously don’t think our area is part of Scotland anymore.”

Local Online Business Expands as Young Owner is Shortlisted for National Award

Local young entrepreneur Callum Winspear has been shortlisted for the Sunday Mail’s Young Scot Awards as his entrepreneurial company, United Bricks, sees growth within the local market town of Castle Douglas. The awards come at an important time for the company – with the opening of a 38 Square metre shop approaching. This comes as the solo-staffed company has tripled – with customers in 48 countries and building.

The bespoke LEGO-selling retailer began when Callum was just 15 years old. Determined to turn a hobby into a business, Callum taught himself how to use a UV printer – and learnt more about sustainable enterprise. Now 19, he has two full-time members of staff, and distributors in France, Germany, Russia, America, and Hong Kong to name but a few.

Callum, owner of United Bricks, said:

‘Being shortlisted for the Young Scot Awards is a huge privilege. United Bricks was born chiefly as a way for me to turn a hobby into a business – but it was also created to help me escape the struggles of school. Going through school, I suffered heavily with dyslexia – and wanted to set myself the challenge of overcoming this – creating my own business.

United Bricks came about because of my passions for history, and LEGO. I wanted to find a way to use the product to encourage people – particularly children – to interact with history through a creative medium. This is how our bespoke, historically-focussed LEGO products came into existence.

It is my hope that our upcoming shop space, in combined with a greater breadth of products, will help us to capture new audiences, whilst strengthening our relationship with the community across Dumfries & Galloway.’

Shortlisted for his entrepreneurial flair, Callum hopes he can use the Young Scot awards as an opportunity to further the success of United Bricks. With the hopes that it will inspire other young people to follow their dreams.

More information on the awards can be found here:

A Constellation of Festivals and Events is Lighting Up Dumfries and Galloway

A constellation of festivals and events is lighting up Dumfries and Galloway this September.

The Electric Fields Festival, the Galloway Hills Rally, the Stranraer Oyster Festival and the start of the Wigtown Book Festival are all cultural and sporting highlights for the region and form part of the Council’s Major Festivals and Events Strategy 2018-2021.

This week the Council’s Events Champion, Councillor Adam Wilson delivered his first report on the first 18 months of this time working to promote Dumfries and Galloway’s festivals and events.

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion Councillor Adam Wilson said, “It has been illuminating to get out and about across Dumfries and Galloway to take in and support many great events. Our Council is dedicated to the delivery of our Major Festivals and Events Strategy and I am determined to demonstrate to the region’s events organisers that we value their work highly and are proud of their efforts and what they achieve. Despite cuts to our Council’s Budget from the Scottish Government we have protected our Major Festival and Events Strategy and will continue to provide support to our many fantastic festival and events.

In my report to the Council I have emphasised the contribution our festivals and events make to the regional economy and our tourism industry and we can see this clearly this September, with many superb events acting as a beacon for Dumfries and Galloway.”


A whole parcel of events planned for Business Week 2018

At the launch of Dumfries and Galloway’s annual Business Week, which runs from Monday 1st to 5th October organisers promised the delivery of a few surprise packages this year.

Using their expert knowledge and connections, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Business Gateway and partners have devised a whole collection of events, workshops and seminars covering a whole host of topics.

One of the prime events will be the Amazon Rural Business Academy on Wednesday 3rd October at Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries. The team from Amazon will provide a presentation on how to do business on the internet through buying and selling, not only on Amazon, but across the whole of the web. As part of the Business Development Show Day, in addition to 60 trade stands which attendees can visit throughout the day, there will also be a presentation from the Princes Trust Regional Awards.

Other events throughout the week include a ‘Meet the Team’ session at Dalton Distillery; ‘Planning Your Business’ seminar delivered by Business Gateway at the Devil’s Porridge, Eastriggs; ‘Developing the Young Workforce for Employers’ at the Cocoabean in Twynholm and the annual Tourism Conference at The Easterbrook Hall on Tuesday 2nd October.

Places are going fast, but for bookings and information on the other events go to:

Councillor Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said: “The annual Business Week builds on the hugely successful events of last year. Numbers are going from strength to strength, year on year, proving that this is a very worthwhile celebration of local businesses throughout our region and beyond. The week provides not only interesting and helpful workshops, but also acts as a practical way for businesses to build connections between one another, supports growth, and therefore helps to build the local economy.

Vice Chair of EEI Committee, Cllr Andrew Wood went on to say: “The week provides inspiration, learning and promotes confidence. It also helps highlight just how rich and diverse our local businesses can be. Each event has been designed to provide maximum benefit to those who attend and the feedback we receive year on year proves that this week is welcomed by local businesses of all sizes.