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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 MAKES THE CASE FOR INVESTMENT ON NITH VALLEY RAIL LINE

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has made the case for major investment in the Glasgow to Carlisle Nith Valley railway line in the Scottish Parliament.

During a debate on Scotland’s Railways in the Parliament, Colin Smyth argued for the re-opening of Eastriggs and Thornhill Railway Stations, investment in disabled access at Kirkconnel Railway station as well as the full electrification of the Nith Valley line to increase train speeds.

 

Colin Smyth at Kirkconnel Train Station

 

Speaking in the Parliamentary debate Colin Smyth said, “The current line to the south-west from Glasgow, which runs between Glasgow and Kilmarnock before branching off in two directions—to Stranraer in the west and Carlisle in the east—has lacked investment in the past. That was exposed when the west coast main line was closed due to storm damage and the Nith Valley line was used as the diversion. Trains that normally travel at more than 100mph on the west coast main line crawled their way along the diversion route. There is a real need to upgrade that line from a rural to a main line. That includes electrification not just from Glasgow to Kilmarnock, but along the full length of the line.”

“There are strong cases for new stations along the Nith valley line. Reopening Eastriggs station would give the growing number of people from that area who travel to Annan, Dumfries and Carlisle for work, education and healthcare a positive public transport alternative to the car. The 28 mile stretch between Dumfries and Sanquhar is the longest part of the line with no station, which highlights the need to reopen Thornhill station, which would improve links between mid-Nithsdale and Dumfries and beyond, as well as to the central belt”.

“There are also smaller improvements that can be made. It remains a scandal that there is no disabled access on the southbound platform 2 at Kirkconnel station.

Commenting after the debate Colin Smyth said, “Dumfries and Galloway is being left behind when it comes to investing in transport infrastructure by this SNP Scottish Government. There are currently no strategic improvements scheduled and it is unlikely any infrastructure improvements will even be agreed until the South West Scotland Transport Study has published its findings”.

“The electrification of the Nith Valley Line would cut journey times by allowing for faster rolling stock to be used along the lines. This would have huge advantages for people living in Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Annan and Gretna and surrounding villages who would be able to travel to work and further afield to Carlisle, Kilmarnock and Glasgow much quicker. Electrification also makes strategic sense as it would provide an alternative to the West Coast mainline which can be used during maintenance”.

 

Across Dumfries and Galloway more people want to travel by train for work, leisure or to make connections at Carlisle or in Glasgow. Both the Eastriggs and Thornhill Station Action Groups have demonstrated the community support and demand for new stations along the Nith Valley route to widen access to rail services to more people. Recently with more services being provided on the line between Dumfries and Carlisle it has been proven that when services are improved, passenger journeys will increase.”

COLIN SMYTH WELCOMES “LONG OVERDUE” END TO FIVE-YEAR “TEMPORARY” TRAFFIC LIGHTS ON A76

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has welcomed the start to long overdue works to reroute a section of the A76 at Enterkinfoot away from an unstable embankment.

The stretch of the trunk road between Thornhill and Sanquhar has been controlled by temporary traffic lights for the past five years due to safety fears, with traffic reduced to a single lane during that time.

 

 

It’s over a year since the Scotland TranServ announced details of a £2.8m plan to realign the road away from the embankment but work is only now set to get started this week and is expected to last 30 weeks.

Colin Smyth said, “There will be a collective sigh of relief from regular users of the A76 that the five year so-called temporary traffic lights will soon disappear as the long overdue work begins to fix this road. This stretch has been down to a single lane for so-long that grass has begun growing on the closed lane. The government have the cheek to call this a road improvement project. If a lane had been closed on a trunk road in the central belt you can bet work would have started long before now. What we need to see is not just repairs such as this completed but serious investment in upgrading what is very much Scotland’s forgotten road.”

MSP MAKES FINAL PUSH TO CHANGE LANDMARK ENTERPRISE AGENCY LAW

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth will this week make a final push to ensure the planned South of Scotland Enterprise Agency is locally accountable.

The local MSP is proposing a number of amendments to the legislation to establish a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.  These will be debated this Wednesday when the legislation goes before Parliament for the final time and MSPs will get to vote on both the amendments and the final Bill.

 

 

The local MSP was successful in making a number of changes to the proposals for the Agency during the Stage 2 process of the bill which took place last month at meetings of the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. More than half the proposed amendments discussed at the Committee were tabled by Colin Smyth and amendments agreed included strengthening the Agencies aims to cover improving transport and digital connectivity and supporting social enterprises.

On Wednesday the Stage 3 process will see further amendments debated and voted on including proposals from Colin Smyth to make it a legal requirement for the new agency to consult people in the South of Scotland on their proposed action plan as well as performance and to ensure that the action plan is reviewed by the agency at least every five years.

The local MSP also hopes to add to the aims of the agency to make it a priority to promote affordable housing in the region and to make it a requirement for all other national agencies such as VisitScotland to work with new agency and set out what they will do to support the economy of the south of Scotland.

Colin Smyth said, “Having campaigned for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency for a decade I am pleased we are now reaching the stage where the plans will go from being debates in Parliament to the law of the land in the next few days and the hard work can really begin with the setting up of the agency between now and early next year. But there is still a lot of work to be done to create an Agency that is rooted in the South. As the bill currently stands there is still no requirement for the new agency to properly consult people in the south of Scotland and the local councils on a regular basis. I plan to change this to ensure there is accountability to the people of our area through a proper consultation process”.

“A big issue raised by many people during the discussions I have had over the Bill is the lack of affordable housing to help keep more people in our region and attract others to move to the south of Scotland. So one vital change the Bill I will be proposing is to make it a requirement for the agency to promote efforts to increase the building of affordable housing in the area.”

“One of the strongest messages we have had from businesses in the area is the need for a one stop shop when it comes to business support. People are sick of going from one agency to another when it comes to asking for help of advice and they are worried that we will have yet another agency to add to many different places businesses need to contact. That’s why I am proposing a legal requirement for all the agencies to work together and set out clearly who will do what in the area, and give businesses a single point of contact they can get support from which will represent all the agencies”

“This will be one of the most important prices of legislation the Scottish Parliament will pass for the South of Scotland as the new Agency will have a key role to play in tackling the big economic challenges we face in the area.” 

SoSEP Events continue in June

The South of Scotland Economic Partnership is continuing to host consultation events (breakfast, mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening meetings) across south Scotland for the general public and industry professionals in the month of June. 

 

 

These events are being held as a follow up to the series of events held last year and are aimed at keeping you updated with the progress that SoSEP is making.

Free tickets are available for the locations listed below – simply click the link for your chosen location and you will be redirected to an Eventbrite booking page where you can reserve your free ticket. If you require more than 2 tickets for any event please email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will try to help.

Online booking is essential to ease check in at venues.

Click on the Venue to be taken to the eventbrite online booking site.

Spaces are limited so please book one event only.

Thank you

Public Consultations – All Welcome     

13th May

6.45pm  

Lochvale House

Dumfries

       

3rd June

6.45pm  

Borders Campus 

Galashiels

4th June

6.45pm  

Gordon Memorial Hall

Castle Douglas

6th June

6.45pm  

Town Hall 

Sanquhar

10th June

6.45pm  

Catstrand

New Galloway

11th June

6.45pm  

Newlands Centre

West Linton 

12th June

6.45pm

Peebles Hydro

Peebles

13th June

6.45pm  

Buccleuch Centre

Langholm

17th June

6.45pm  

Creebridge House Hotel

Newton Stewart

18th June

6.45pm  

Moffat Town Hall 

Moffat

19th June

6.45pm  

Jed Forest Rugby Club

Jedburgh

24th June

6.45pm  

Selkirk Rugby Club

Selkirk 

25th June

6.45pm  

Corner House Hotel

Annan 

27th June

6.45pm

Community Hall

Newcastleton 

       

1st July

6.45pm  

Eyemouth Hippodrome

Eyemouth  

2nd July

6.45pm

Dumfries and Galloway College Stranraer Campus

Stranraer

3rd July

6.46pm

Kelso Rugby Club

Kelso

4th July

6.45pm  

Heart of Hawick

Hawick

       

Sector Meetings

The following events are for industry professionals across a range of sectors:

       

Business

9th May

8.15am

Business Breakfast - Borders Campus

Galashiels

3rd June

8.15am

Business Breakfast - Hawick RFC  

Hawick

14th June

8.15am

Business Breakfast - Dumfries and Galloway College

Dumfries 

3rd July

8.15am

Dumfries and Galloway College Stranraer Campus

Stranraer

       

Arts and Culture

5th June

6.45pm

D & G Arts and Culture Sector -  Kirkcudbright Gallery

Kirkcudbright

20th June

6.45pm

Scottish Borders Arts and Culture Sector - Borders Campus

Galashiels

       

Tourism and Hospitality

6th June

11.15am

D & G Tourism & Hospitality Sector - Mill on the Fleet

Gatehouse

1st July

11.15am

Scottish Borders Tourism and Hospitality Sector - Melrose RFC

Melrose

       

Food & Drink

3rd June

11.00am

Scottish Borders Food and Drink Sector - Hawick RFC  

Hawick

       

Education

20th June

3.15pm

Galashiels RSIP Workshop - Borders Campus

Galashiels

24th June

2.15pm

Dumfries RSIP - D & G College

Dumfries

New Jobs, New Hope and New Attraction Set to Open

This Saturday sees the opening of Scotland’s latest international visitor attraction – Moat Brae house and garden, the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling.

The beautiful Georgian property in Dumfries, where the young J.M. Barrie and his friends played the games that inspired Peter Pan, was saved from demolition 10 years ago and £8 million has been raised for its restoration and transformation.

 

The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust has created 18 new jobs and numerous volunteer roles as it looks forward to welcoming visitors from around the world.

Photo of Moat Brae and the new visitor centre by Graeme Robertson

Visitors will be able to enjoy themed interactive exhibits, reading and play areas, temporary exhibitions, a shop and café overlooking the river Nith. There will be costumed guides, discovery trails and a year-round programme of inspirational activities.

Among the delightful features will be the original Tinker Bell (a small bell that J.M. Barrie bought to be rung whenever his fairy character appeared in the original stage version of the story) and a spectacular dolls’ house nearly 6ft tall.

And outside, in the grounds where JM Barrie played pirates in the 1870s, will be the Neverland Discovery Garden with:

  • A pirate ship 
  • Wendy house
  • Mermaid’s Lagoon
  • A performance space … and much more.

Simon Davidson, Moat Brae Centre Director, said: “The opening will be a very special moment – Moat Brae inspired a truly great storyteller to create one of the greatest and best-loved children’s tales of all time. 

“And now it has been brought back to life as our National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling in order to spark the imaginations of many thousands of young people from every corner of the world.”

Moat Brae, which J.M. Barrie referred to as “enchanted land” will stage a wide variety of events and educational programmes. 

It will also celebrate the immense richness of modern and classic poems, stories and children’s literature and illustrations from at home and abroad.

Dame Barbara Kelly, Chairman of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT) which runs the centre, said: “We are hugely grateful to all the many individuals and organisations who have come together to make our dream come true by saving Moat Brae and creating somewhere that children can play and let their imaginations roam free – just as J.M. Barrie’s did.”

The public fundraising campaign to save and restore Moat Brae was spearheaded by PPMBT Patron Joanna Lumley.

She said: “The moment you step into Moat Brae you understand why J.M. Barrie called it ‘enchanted land’. 

“It is fantastic that children and young people everywhere can now have the chance to enjoy its magic, discover the joys of Peter Pan, and revel in other children’s literature and stories from many different times, places and cultures. It’s a wonderful achievement.”

The project has been made possible thanks to the help of a wide variety of supporters including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, VisitScotland, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Creative Scotland and The National Lottery Heritage Fund contributed £1.78million to the transformation.