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

 

D&G aims for starters, mains and just desserts

Dumfries and Galloway Council has agreed to the region’s first Food and Drink Strategy.

The Council's Economy, Environment and Infrastructure [EEI] committee agreed to the pioneering strategy being the recognised approach to supporting the region's food sector at it's meeting on Friday 23 November 2018.

Dumfries and Galloway Council is the first local authority in Scotland to develop a strategic approach to food and drink industry development that aligns with Scotland’s national Ambition 2030 goal. The strategy identifies food and drink as Dumfries and Galloway’s most important economic sector and seeks to double the value of the industry to £2.5 billion over the next 12 years.

Councillor Archie Dryburgh, chair of the EEI committee, said: “Earlier this year, our Council committed to developing an ambitious sector strategy to unlock the potential of our local businesses. The strategy recognises the important role food and drink plays in our region’s economy, combining an ambitious leadership vision with an empowered and enabled industry.

“While our Council has taken the lead in developing this strategy, we recognise that the industry needs inclusive and collaborative support, with partnership working between public, private and community sectors to jointly grow volume, value, resilience, and sustainability.

“This strategy shows that our Council means business. I'm delighted that members agreed with this ambitious and forward thinking approach, and I look forward to seeing our region’s food and drink sector go from strength to strength.”

Councillor Andrew Wood, vice chair, said: “Dumfries and Galloway is one of Scotland’s most important food producing regions, so supporting our food and drink sector is an important part of securing a strong economic future for our region.

“Our new strategy already had widespread support from local businesses and local and national organisations operating in the sector. Food and drink is the engine of our region’s economy and by working together we can make it even stronger. Doubling the value of the industry by 2030 is ambitious, but it is achievable and the time to do it is now.”

Food and drink is Dumfries and Galloway’s largest, fastest growing and most valuable economic sector, worth £1.2 billion to the region’s economy employing 9,075 people. It is of increasing importance to Dumfries and Galloway, comprising a quarter of private sector economic activity, up from a fifth just five years earlier.

The regional strategy aligns with the national food and drink strategy Ambition 2030, which aims to double the value of Scotland’s industry over the next 12 years. Spanning the full supply chain from field and sea to plate, the sector includes primary production, such as agriculture and fishing, through to small food producers, large scale food manufacturers and processors, farmers’ markets and food festivals, distributors, restaurants, cafes, visitor attractions, speciality retailers, and a growing number of distilleries.

The finalised strategy, covering 2019 to  2022, will be published in early 2019. Local businesses are invited to comment on the draft strategy: www.dgfoodanddrink.org

Small businesses 'backbone' of region's towns

SMALL businesses are the backbone of our local communities, according to MSP Oliver Mundell and MP David Mundell.

 

They were highlighting the advantages of, where possible, using near-by retailers and services on the eve of 'Small Business Saturday' (December 1) this weekend.

 

The international event, which was launched eight years ago, highlights the advantages and value to local economies of using community-based independent businesses.

 

Oliver Mundell, who represents Dumfriesshire at Holyrood, said: "Personal face-to-face contact and local knowledge together with the convenience of nearby after service are just some of the advantages of small local businesses.

 

"On high streets it is often the local independent businesses which help give towns, like those in my constituency, a distinctive character."

 

David Mundell, whose Westminster seat covers Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, added: "Small businesses provide a unique selling point for our High Streets and are the backbone of our communities. They know their customers and what they want."

SP ENERGY NETWORKS AWARDS MULTI-MILLION POUND FUNDING TO PROJECTS ACCELERATING SCOTLAND’S GREEN ECONOMY

THIRTEEN of Scotland’s most innovative low-carbon transport and heating projects, from electric buses to water-powered underground heat pumps, were today awarded multi-million pound funding from SP Energy Networks’ £20m Green Economy Fund.

The fund, established earlier this year by the electricity network operator, supports the ambitious green targets of the Scottish Government to boost local economic growth, improve air quality in our cities and deliver a better future, quicker.

Almost £6million has been awarded after the first round of funding applications – including a ground-breaking new partnership with First Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest bus operator, to bring the first large passenger electric buses to Glasgow.

And in a double boost for the city’s green transport systems, the Green Economy Fund will also ensure the city’s only previous electric bus, which was set to stop running because of a lack of funding, will continue to operate on its popular museums route for the next three months.

In Edinburgh, a mini hydro-electric scheme on the Water of Leith at Saughton Park will also receive funding as will an innovative app which tracks electric vehicle charging points.

SP Energy Networks’ CEO Frank Mitchell revealed the successful projects at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum today (Tuesday) and encouraged other green projects to apply for the second round of funding.

Frank Mitchell, Chief Executive of SP Energy Networks, said: “There are many projects, large and small, which are carrying out innovative and inspiring work to expand Scotland’s green economy and accelerate local economic growth. The Green Economy Fund can provide them with the financial boost required to make great ideas a reality.

“The Scottish Government has an ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions and to grow Scotland’s use of electric vehicles and SP Energy Networks is ready to help deliver that plan. We want to promote the uptake of electric vehicles and the development of the infrastructure required; we want to help with the provision of affordable low carbon heating to address fuel poverty and we want to encourage low carbon job creation.

“But the Green Economy Fund isn’t just about individual green projects; it is about creating and accelerating a green economy for Scotland – to deliver a better future, quicker. The projects that have been helped with this first round of SP Energy Networks’ funding will help to do that; to make Scotland a cleaner, greener place for generations to come.”

Welcoming the project funding, Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee, said: “Innovation is key in supporting the decarbonisation of heat and transport – and delivering our vision of a whole energy system that works for everyone.

“Securing funding is a crucial first step for many projects, and initiatives such as the Green Economy Fund play a vital role in supporting investment in low carbon technologies. I am particularly pleased to see that the fund will target communities and social groups which may not have had the opportunity to fully engage in the transition to a low carbon economy but that deserve equal access to the benefits it can bring.”

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director of First Glasgow said: “We are delighted to be working in close partnership with SP Energy Networks to access their Green Economy Fund. The award will allow for the purchase and operation of our first electric vehicles in Glasgow whilst also future proofing our depot for more widespread electric bus operation. I am really looking forward to getting these new vehicles in to service on route M3 and receiving feedback from our customers, our driving team and our engineering colleagues.”

Initiatives supported by the Green Economy Fund include:

  •          £1.5million has been awarded to establish Glasgow’s first permanent electric bus routes, the M3 First Glasgow service. With support from SPT, two electric buses manufactured by Alexander Dennis will operate between Milton and Glasgow city centre serving over 200,000 passengers annually.
  •          City of Edinburgh Council’s refurbishment of Saughton Park to introduce a micro-hydro scheme to power ground source heat pumps that will in turn produce electricity for community facilities, the Winter Gardens glasshouse, electric vehicle charge points and park lighting.
  •          £2.1million will support Scotland’s biggest and most ambitious regeneration project, the Clyde Gateway, to create a self-sufficient local energy supply and generate income that can be reinvested into local projects and reduce fuel poverty. This will be achieved by introducing heat pump technology into its waste water treatment centre.
  •          Community Transport Glasgow, Scotland’s first civic transport organisation to be fully low carbon, replacing aging diesel minibuses with a new fleet of electric and low-carbon minibuses to provide life-line transport for more than 75,000 elderly, disabled and vulnerable passengers.
  •          Glasgow’s council-operated 100 service which connects the Riverside Museum with Kelvingrove, the SEC and the city centre, will also receive 3-months funding of £25,000 while SP Energy Networks works with the operators to find a permanent solution to prevent it from closure.
  •          The development of WattsUp, an app to guide drivers to their nearest electric charging point. It will collate data from all of Scotland’s network operators and provide real-time data on when and where to stop.
  •          A programme of local ‘smart energy’ action plans and feasibility studies developed with community councils in Dumfries & Galloway, the Scottish Borders, Fife and Glasgow led by the team at Community Energy Scotland.
  •          An ambitious project to improve energy efficiency of the iconic 1960s Basil Spence Canongate housing development in the heart of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile world heritage site.
  •          The establishment of two new car clubs – the Hawick Community EV Car Club in the Scottish Borders and KA8 Electric Car Club in North Ayrshire.
  •          Two sustainable energy facilitators employed by the Southern Uplands Partnership to develop energy initiatives and signpost funding to tackle issues such as rural fuel poverty and hard to insulate properties in the south of Scotland.
  •          A research project to develop a new model for community-led energy networks, which will feature a pilot scheme in Ettrick and Yarrow to connect locally generated renewable energy to electric vehicle charging points and public transport as well as storage heating in public facilities.
  •          A modern teaching facility at Dumfries & Galloway College for the teaching and development of renewable technologies with funding to provide technologies to for heat and power to the hub, and to be used as teaching aids.

SP Energy Networks, which delivers electricity to more than two million customers in Scotland, is working with the Scottish Government and energy regulator Ofgem to fund low-carbon initiatives which support local economic growth. The Green Economy Fund focuses on the communities in which SP Energy Networks operates – central and southern Scotland – and will run for two years.

Applications are invited for the second round of funding. For further information or to apply, please visit www.spenergynetworks.co.uk/gef

 

SOUTH OF SCOTLAND ENTERPRISE AGENCY BILL BEGINS PARLIAMENTARY PROCESS

The legislation to establish the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will start the process towards becoming law this week when the bill goes before the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) for scrutiny.

The Stage 1 process will run until early next year and is likely to include the Committee holding a formal Parliamentary Committee meeting in Dumfries on 14 January and a workshop in Galashiels on 23 January. 

South Scotland MSP and member of the Committee Colin Smyth is urging people across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders to have their say on plans for the new agency.

  

Colin Smyth said, “This is an important piece of legislation for the future of the South of Scotland. As the only South Scotland MSP who sits on the Parliamentary committee who will scrutinise and amend the Bill, I would urge local people to take part in the committee’s consultation to ensure that the new Agency is shaped by the people it will affect most. It is vital that the agency is very much rooted in the South of Scotland has the local membership, budget and powers needed to deliver the real change our local economy needs”.    

The Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee are carrying out a consultation on the bill, which runs until 7 January 

The consultation questions that will form part of the inquiry are:

Do you agree that a south of Scotland enterprise agency should be created?

Do you agree with the proposals for the body's constitution, purposes, powers and duties?

If you do not agree with the proposals, what would you like to change?

Is there anything else that should be included or excluded from the bill?

New Report shows Council offers Best Value

Commenting on the Best Value Audit Report former Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said;

 

“This independent report shows the massive turnaround in the council in recent years. It’s easy for people to forget that the last Audit Scotland report in 2009 was utterly scathing. It said the council had serious weaknesses and lacked political and managerial leadership. Now the report says in recent years there has been clear strategic direction and strong leadership, with the rate of progress increasing from 2014, but that the biggest threat comes from a lack of funding. I think council staff deserve enormous praise for their efforts in turning around the council in the face of massive Government cuts”.   

 

TO VIEW THE REPORT CLICK HERE