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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.

 

Calls for D&G to go 5G

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has called for the South of Scotland to be used as a 5G pilot area.

Colin Smyth made the call during a debate yesterday (20th November) in the Scottish Parliament in a debate on ‘Developing Scotland’s Digital Industries for our Economic Use’ in which the local MSP urged the Scottish Government to support proposals in the Borderlands Growth Deal proposals aimed at increasing the digital capabilities for the Borderlands Area. As well as the 5G pilot scheme, the Borderlands proposal includes seeking funding to complete the roll-out of superfast broadband to properties that currently don’t have it, extending current 4G coverage across the region and developing transformational hyperfast digital infrastructure in key settlements and employment sites to enable internet speeds of 1Gbps.

Colin Smyth believes that by investing in the digital capabilities of rural areas like the South of Scotland it would allow local businesses to have a competitive advantage in rural areas rather than always having to ‘catch-up’ with urban areas.

During the debate Colin Smyth told Parliament, “A key component of the Borderlands Growth Deal is the aim of breaking down the digital divide through the digital borderlands plan. That plan seeks investment to complete the roll-out of superfast broadband to the properties that do not yet have it, to extend 4G coverage further into remote areas and, crucially, to develop transformational hyperfast digital infrastructure in key settlements and employment sites, enabling speeds of 1Gbps. In addition, the plan includes proposals to pilot emergent 5G technology and develop digital skills in the borderlands—an area that suffers a chronic shortage of such skills.

Government funding for that type of outside-in approach, which prioritises rural areas for future investment, would give communities that are currently disadvantaged, such as those of the borderlands, a technological and economic advantage that they have previously been denied. Support for the borderlands growth deal would represent digital inclusion in action. It would help to deliver the inclusive growth that the Government talks about but that is far out of reach for too many of our rural communities.”

Speaking after the debate Colin Smyth MSP said, “Too often rural communities are left behind when it comes to investment in technology and digital capabilities. We all get frustrated at the loss of signal experienced when out and about across our region. The loss of signal symbolises the digital divide between urban and rural areas in Scotland that hinder businesses and economic growth here.

The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposals aim to break down divide and really boost the digital capabilities for communities and businesses in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. I used my speech to urge the Scottish Government to give its support to the Borderlands Deal and start funding these projects that will make a vital difference.

However, more importantly more needs to be done to give a competitive advantage to rural communities and business both now and in the future. That is why both the UK and Scottish Government ensure the South of Scotland is included in piloting emerging 5G technologies and help local authorities, communities and businesses to build the skills and capabilities required. In turn that would create a huge competitive advantage for South Scotland and help unlock economic growth.

Ice Hockey sey tobring Economic gain of £350,000 for local economy.

Dumfries Ice Bowl is set to become the international focus for Women’s Ice Hockey in 2019.

Two World Championship tournaments are to take place within quick succession in the New Year, bringing eleven countries national teams to the town.

Great Britain Under 18s Women will be part of a six nation International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Division 1B to be played between January 6-12. Notable visitors will be the Chinese Under 18 team, who are sure to draw a big crowd to the Ice Bowl. Great Britain will also compete against France, Poland, the Netherlands and Norway in this World Championship.

In April (2-8) Great Britain welcome the world – five far flung countries will descend on Dumfries for the second World Championship, the IIHF Women’s Division 2A tournament. The national teams of Australia, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korean (better known as North Korea) and Mexico will make their way to the Ice Bowl to play the hosts, Slovenia and Spain to see which country gains promotion. Both World Championships are expected to be keenly contested with no clear favourites.

The World Championships double header is an incredible boost for the Ice Bowl, British Ice Hockey and the economy of Dumfries and Galloway. The two tournaments in total will generate more than £350,000 for the regional economy, from the funding the Council receive for hosting the events. The Council spends the money directly with local hotels, coach hire companies and caterers to take care of the competing players, managers, tournament officials and volunteers when they are here.

Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion said, “I am sure the whole community will get behind these two World Championships and provide a warm welcome for the eleven countries that are coming to compete in elite Women’s Ice Hockey.  Ice sports are booming in Dumfries and hosting another two World Championships is further testimony to the excellent work of Council staff and our investment in major events. These two tournaments are taking place during a quiet time of the year for visitors so it is pleasing that this Council and Ice Hockey UK initiative is creating such an impressive economic boost for the region.”

Andy French, General Secretary of Ice Hockey UK commented, “The two World Championships provide the perfect opportunity to promote the exhilarating sport of ice hockey. The game is not just for men and the two Great Britain teams will really illustrate that there is a pathway for girls and women into the sport and, with dedication and drive, people can make it into their national team.  I am looking forward to welcoming all the competing nations to Dumfries in 2019 and take in the quality of ice hockey the two World Championships are sure to deliver.”

Tickets will be available for each match at the Ice Bowl or can be booked in advance from the Midsteeple Box Office, Dumfries or online from www.icehockeyuk.co.uk

 

Council Leader continues to voice concerns about Ayr Station

Despite a limited service being resumed, this Council is aware that there continue to be travel issues for people in Stranraer and the surrounding area due to public safety issues at the former Station Hotel in Ayr. An extended exclusion zone has been in place at the building adjacent to Ayr Station since 27 August 2018.

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray, has written to Mr Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Scotrail to voice the Council’s concerns.

In the letter Councillor Murray says that both Stranraer and Barhill stations are used by residents in the west of our region to access education, training, employment and leisure in Ayrshire and Glasgow. While the Leader says she is pleased that a limited service has been resumed, it remains essential that a full service is re-introduced as soon as possible.

The Council Leader pointed out that issues with the building are not yet resolved and further work will be needed to render the building safe. She seeks assurance that, when this happens, trains services south of Ayr will not be discontinued again.

Councillor Murray goes on to point out that prior warning will be given when future work starts, so it should be possible to put contingencies in place, such as the reopening of the Townhead depot in Ayr. It should also be possible to ensure that sufficient trains are stationed south of the affected line to allow services to Ayr to continue.

For further information go to: https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/station-building/


Full details of the changes to rail services can be found at www.scotrail.co.uk/plan-your-journey/stations-and-facilities/ayrExternal link  and by following @ScotRail on Twitter.

Flood prevention Schemes progressing

When this Council’s Economy Environment and Infrastructure Committee meet on 23 November Members will be updated on the progress of the Newton Stewart and Langholm Flood prevention schemes.

The Newton Stewart scheme has been progressing since it was first identified as a priority in 2016. Extensive work has been carried out, with surveys and ground investigations being undertaken to inform the final design. These designs were displayed at public consultation events in Newton Stewart with 124 people attending over three days. Feedback from questionnaires handed out at the event showed:

  • 100% wanted to see a flood protection scheme provided
  • 82% agreed the approach taken in developing the scheme
  • 68% agreed that all available options to address the flooding were included and considered.

Work is progressing well on the scheme with the finalised scheme drawings and documents for the flood order to be completed this month. Reviewed costs will be reported in January 2019 and engagement with affected owners and key groups is due to take place from January to March 2019. Works on the whole scheme, including the building of the replacement Sparling Bridge, are expected to be completed in August 2019.

Langholm was identified as a Potentially Vulnerable Area (PVA) in the National Flood Risk Assessment published by SEPA in December 2011.

Langholm is located at the confluence of three rivers: the Esk, Wauchope Water and Ewes

Water and, according to the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, Langholm has more properties at risk of flooding than any other town in Dumfries and Galloway: with 524 properties within the 0.5% AEP flood inundation zone. (Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) - the likelihood of occurrence of a flood of given size or larger occurring in any one year.)

RPS Consultants, who were appointed by the Council to undertake Flood Modelling in the town, finalised their report in June 2017. A ‘Long List’ of options was produced and analysed to identify deliverable and preferred options.

An initial meeting will take place in Langholm between Dumfries and Galloway Council, Langholm Community Council and consultants RPS. The first formal meeting to review options will take place in December with representatives from SEPA, Scottish Water, Scottish Natural heritage and other interested stakeholders. Following this, initial options will be developed, taken forward to outline design, and shared at a public engagement event in February 2019.

Chair of Economy, Environment and infrastructure Committee, Archie Dryburgh said: “These Flood Risk Management Schemes are vital to our communities in preparation for both current and future flooding dangers. Warnings about climate change need to be heeded, and we must prepare accordingly. We take our duties seriously, and schemes such as these are all about protecting, not only our people, but also homes and properties in these flood risk areas.  I am glad now that we can move forward with this in Langholm for the whole area and also the work starting up in Holmwood in the New year”   

Vice Chair, Andrew Wood said: “Flood risk is a real issue for a number of communities within our region, but it is not only about the safety of our communities, as a Council we also have a number of legal duties which we must adhere to which includes assessing bodies of water and managing the risk of flooding. Identification is only the start, and investment in these schemes provides long term protection for all.”

Fun Filled Switch on Day to be Broadcast on Alive 107.3

It's that time of year again: time to put on your Christmas jumpers and Santa hats and head for the Christmas fun and festivities in Dumfries Town Centre, on Sunday 2 December 2018, for this year’s Christmas lights Big Switch.

A fun filled day has been planned with activities for all the family, including entertainment on the Plainstanes, the Croc Rock Festival from Moat Brae, a Christmas Market hosted by the Dumfries Makers' Market, a free Youth Village, Santa’s Grotto, and workshops from Drawing for Enjoyment and Renita Boyle Tell Together Tales.

There will be performances on the Plainstanes from emerging local talent, North West Community Campus School Choir, Alive Radio, The Flashes, Santadelicia, and the Croc Rock Carnival.

Vice Chair of Nithsdale Area Committee, Provost Tracey Little, said: “I'm delighted to see the partnership with Moat Brae and Dumfries and Galloway Council at this year’s Big Swich On.. There will be some spectacular performances in the lead up to the lights being switched on, and lots to do for all the family.”

All activities will take place in Dumfries High Street and are free apart from a small charge for accessing the Santa’s Grotto. There will also be an opportunity to purchase gifts at the Christmas Market.

 

Alive 107.3 Chairman Mark Smith said "We are delighted to be able to broadcast coverage of what will be an amazing day for the whole community. It's things like this that really bring the community together and as the regions award winning community radio station we are so happy to be able to let everyone be part of the day. Even if they can't be in the town on the day all the performances will be  broadcast on Alive 107.3 on FM and online by visiting aliveradio.net and through the radioplayer app."

Simon Davidson, Moat Brae’s Centre Director, said: “We're really looking forward to bringing the CrocRock Carnival to the Big Switch On of the Christmas lights. It's great to be working in partnership with the Council to help put on a bright, fun and colourful event for the people of Dumfries and Galloway."

Leah Halliday from Guild Dumfries said “The Guild Dumfries are delighted to be organising our first Christmas Dumfries Makers Market in the town centre. There was such an overwhelming response from interested traders and we've had an encouraging response from the community about our market. So, whether you're shopping or not, the Christmas Lights Switch On provides an excellent opportunity to support the town centre by heading into town, enjoying the makers market and free entertainment, workshops, storytelling, and celebrating the Year of Young People. We hope people will get into the festive spirit and take to the streets of Dumfries and enjoy this Christmas experience.”

The afternoon’s activities will end with the switching on of the Christmas lights at 6pm and fireworks finale.

Dumfries Town Centre is the place to be this festive season.