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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.

 

McAlpine welcomes half million tourism plan for south Scotland

MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the announcement of a £500’000 investment to help promote the South of Scotland as a tourist destination.

The funding – which was revealed today by Minister for Tourism Alasdair Allan – will be used by Visit Scotland to market the region, and Ms McAlpine has said Dumfries and Galloway should feature prominently in the plans.

The SNP MSP commented:

“This is very welcome news from the Minister and will be a big boost for the region’s important tourism industry. I understand the campaign will be of an international nature highlighting South of Scotland as a region. Most people from abroad associate Scotland with the Highlands so It’s really important that they understand we have similar dramatic scenery, castles and wildlife outdoor pursuits.

“There are so many attractions in Dumfries and Galloway to market both to visitors, and people who live here in Scotland, from the fairy tale Caerlaverock Castle to Moat Brae - the birthplace of Peter Pan. The region also has some of the biggest events in Scotland’s cultural and music calendar, like Electric Fields and the Big Burns Supper – and world leading food and drink festivals.”

McAlpine welcomes ‘strong’ Scottish Government action on Pinneys

Scottish Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse today demanded that Young’s suspend the transfer of jobs to Grimsby from Annan - after a serious buyer for the Pinneys site came forward.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine – who has campaigned against the closure of Pinneys - welcomed the Minister’s actions, commenting:

“The Business Minister has sent a strong message to Young’s today - you have a moral obligation to the community here in Annan and you will not be allowed to simply walk away from this responsibility.

Mr Wheelhouse told Young’s Chief Executive Bill Showalter the company had a ‘moral obligation’ to do right by the people of Annan in the aftermath of its decision to close the site, causing over 450 job losses.

Mr Wheelhouse told Mr Showalter:

“I would ask you to re-assess your current plans to transfer the natural salmon production to your Grimsby site in July, and instead, put on hold the next phase of redundancies planned for then. Retaining key personnel for securing an investor through protecting vital expertise and skills.

“Young’s has a moral obligation to support the community of Annan in the aftermath of its decision to close Pinneys.”

The Minister also urged the company to make a financial contribution to support local economic growth and mitigate some of the devastating impact of its decision – and indicated that the Scottish Government will provide support to ensure staff are retained through the summer.

 Ms McAlpine added:

“Mr Wheelhouse and I are absolutely focussed on securing continued employment for the workforce at Pinneys. He has been working very hard behind the scenes to secure the best possible outcome for a number of weeks.

“I am delighted by the news that a serious buyer for the site has come forward. Young’s must now do everything within its power to secure the sale of the site – including retaining the highly skilled workforce.

“however, we don’t know yet how many jobs might be saved by a potential sale – so I am pleased that the Scottish Government is looking at further investment to support any workers who are made redundant.”

MSP calls on agency to drive ‘sea change’ in region’s economic performance

MSP Joan McAlpine has said south Scotland’s new enterprise agency should help drive a ‘sea change’ in Dumfries and Galloway’s economic performance.

The SNP MSP – who campaigned for the dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland  - said the body should act as a champion for region and deliver support to businesses of all sizes.

She said access to finance for SMEs ( Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) was one of the most pressing issues facing the region which she hoped the new agency would addess. 

Ms McAlpine also called for dedicated hubs in both Dumfries town centre and Galloway to ensure that the agency serves the whole of south Scotland.

The MSP made the comments in her response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the new agency – which called for views on how the new body can best help the south of Scotland.

Commenting Ms McAlpine said:

“I want to see a sea change in the economic performance across the South of Scotland, and Dumfries and Galloway in particular. Our new agency should act as a champion for the region as well as providing appropriate business and community support, as is the case with the north through Highland and Islands Enterprise.

“While the agency serves the whole South Scotland it must address the particular problems of the South West. 

“Access to capital is one of the key challenges for both SME’s and micro businesses in South Scotland. During my time on the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee I saw a lot of evidence that access to capital was particularly acute in South Scotland and this applied to private finance as well as public agency loans and grants. The Agency must address this if our businesses are to grow and develop.”

“The creation of a dedicated enterprise agency by the Scottish Government is a huge opportunity and we must grasp it. Dumfries and Galloway has the potential to be an economic success story. We already have very strong food and drink, creative, and manufacturing sectors – and the agency can push to define Dumfries and Galloway as a centre of excellence for them all.”

The south Scotland MSP also stressed the importance of making sure that the ‘same old voices’ were not allowed to dictate the priorities of the new body – commenting:

“We must listen to those who are already working successfully in businesses and communities in Dumfries and Galloway. I would particularly like the economic and human value of the region to be understood and valued by those working within the Agency who must work with the communities and groups in the region to co-produce ideas and drive forward the local economy.”

MP and MSP react to EWM letter

 

A SENIOR executive at Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) has predicted a proposed heritage centre at Langholm could attract a large number of visitors.

Jason Anderson, managing director of the company, was responding to a letter of deep concern from local MP David Mundell and constituency MSP Oliver Mundell about the decision to move the company HQ from Langholm. 

Both politicians have now called on company chiefs to add far more detail about any proposed investment they have in the future of the town where the business was founded.

In the joint-letter to EWM chief executive Philip Day, David and Oliver Mundell stated the company had a duty to acknowledge the loyalty and support they had received from the Langholm community for generations.

They pointed out that the move would be distressing and disruptive to employees living in the Langholm area and have a devastating impact on the town's economy.

In a response to the letter, Mr Anderson stated: "We are currently consulting with our employees to make sure this process is handled as smoothly as possible and focus remains on their well-being."

Following the recent confirmation of the decision, EWM pointed to Langholm's role in the company's 'history and heritage' and revealed that they planned to retain their Waverley Mills buildings.

An EWM statement added: "We have ambitions to turn the building into a heritage centre which celebrates the role that both Edinburgh Woollen Mill and textiles has played, and continues to play, in Scotland."

In the latest letter to David and Oliver Mundell, Mr Anderson suggested the heritage centre would "attract more footfall to the area" than the current HQ.

He continued: "I am hopeful that we will develop this vision for Langholm together over the coming weeks and months.''

The transfer of the HQ would move 190 jobs from Langholm to new premises more than 20 miles away in Carlisle.

David Mundell said: "I will judge EWM on what they deliver by way of a heritage centre and will certainly be holding their feet to the fire on their promise to deliver it."

Meanwhile, Oliver Mundell said: "Anything that boosts the economy and creates jobs in Langholm would be a good thing but given EWM's track record we will need to see investment before we believe it.

"They owe the town an apology and actions would certainly speak louder than words.

"As well as keeping up the pressure on EWM we need to see support from Dumfries and Galloway Council in the form of transitional rates relief for existing businesses which will be badly affected by the move." 

Closure plan at long-established bakery business

Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack has expressed deep concern at the prospect of further jobs losses in the area after plans to close a long-established Stewartry business were announced.

The family bakery firm of M. Corson, which was founded in 1880 and has branches in Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie and Kirkcudbright, has confirmed it is in consultation over a decision to cease trading with the potential loss of 34 full and part-time jobs.

Mr Jack said: "It must have been a painful decision for the owners, who, I understand, had been trying to find a suitable buyer for the business for some years.

"It will be an especially difficult period for the company's loyal and, in some cases, very long-serving employees."

Mr Jack added that he would be willing to assist, if required, in ensuring the necessary support and advice was in place for those seeking new jobs.