The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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



South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth will this week call on the Scottish Government to intervene to end ‘rip-off rail fares’ facing passengers in Dumfries and Galloway.

The local MSP has tabled a question to be taken in the Scottish Parliament this Thursday (30 November) questioning Transport Minister Humza Yousaf on the issue and wants a review of rail fares in the region, after new research revealed that passengers from Dumfries and Galloway pay more per mile on services on the Nith Valley line than other passengers joining trains on the route in the central belt.

For example, according to research published by Colin Smyth MSP passengers travelling the 50 miles to Glasgow from Kirkconnel station in Upper Nithsdale face paying £13.50 for a single ticket- the equivalent of 27p per mile. However, if they travel just seven miles north to New Cumnock to get the train to Glasgow, the cost falls to £8.40 for a 43 mile trip- just 19p per mile.

Meanwhile, passengers commuting to Edinburgh or Glasgow for work from Lockerbie station are being denied special discount tickets available to commuters at other ScotRail stations in Scotland.

The MSP has raised the issue in the past with ScotRail, who have failed to act on the concerns, so Colin Smyth is now calling on the Scottish Government to intervene.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “At a time where the economy of Dumfries and Galloway is struggling and the transport links to and from our region is in the spotlight these figures will come as no surprise to local people who feel our area has become the forgotten part of Scotland when it comes to decent rail services north.”   

“You expect to pay more for a rail fare the further you travel, but what these figures show is the cost per mile is significantly more expensive for rail passengers in Dumfries and Galloway than it is, as soon as you leave the region to get a train north. How can it be fair that it costs 27p per mile to travel to Glasgow from Kirkconnel, but if you travel from New Cumnock just seven miles north it costs 19p per mile? That means passengers are paying 60% more for just a 16% increase in distance. People from upper Nithsdale regularly drive to New Cumnock to save money rather than use their local station in Kirkconnel. What angers me is the fact ScotRail constantly say they won’t provide disabled access at Kirkconnel station because of passenger numbers yet it is their ticket pricing that discourages people from using the station."

“More and more people from Dumfries and Galloway are employed in the central belt due to the lack of opportunities in our area and they commute to Glasgow and Edinburgh every day. However, passengers who commute are banned from using cheaper regular user tickets from Lockerbie railway station for services to the central belt but ScotRail, who own the station, let commuters on 28 other routes in Scotland use these cheaper flexipass tickets”.

“I have raised these issues with ScotRail but they have failed to act and continue to rip off passengers in Dumfries and Galloway. It’s time for the Scottish Government to intervene   and make sure that people in this area don’t continue to lose out”

DGAF 2018 - Sponsorship Opportunities

In 2018 Dumfries and Galloway will host its 39th Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival which is the largest and most established performing arts programme in the region.  This annual 10 day festival will deliver over 80 events in over 40 venues involving local and international talent and will include everything from theatre and dance to comedy and classical music. With venues and promoters throughout Dumfries and Galloway, the festival will attract audiences of over 6,000 people

The 2018 festival programme will be launched with a performance from the Scottish Ensemble on Thursday 15March 2018 at the Theatre Royal in Dumfries.  The festival will run from Friday 25May to Sunday 3 June 2018.

 From the 15March to the end of the festival, 15,000 copies of the Festival brochure will be distributed and displayed in venues throughout the region and promoted onthe festival website and social media.  Local hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions, events, venues, shops and other businesses all benefit from the increased custom throughout the festival period.  Would you like your business to benefit?  If so, we have a number of advertising and sponsorship opportunities for you to consider.


  •          Brochure Sponsor                                                                             £750    o

Logo and website featured prominently in the festival brochure

  •          Dumfries and Galloway Regional Sponsor                                      £350    o

Logo and website featured on the Location Guide

Page of the festival brochure

  •          Event Diary Sponsor                                                                         £350    o
  •          In-kind venue hire (please call to discuss)                                                    o

Logo and website featured on the Event Diary page(s) of the festival brochure


  •          Launch Event Sponsor                                                                      £750    o 

15March 2018, Theatre Royal, Dumfries                                       

 or Launch and SE £2000  o

  •          Scottish Ensemble Tour Sponsor 24 -27 May                                 £1500  o 

includes sponsorship of the 2018 Opening Event

  • Sun 25 May 2018 at Theatre Royal as well as other

events and workshops.

  •          Closing Event Sponsor                                                                      £750    o 

3 June 2018, details to be confirmed


  •          Event Sponsorship opportunities  ranging from £350-£500:


  •    The Festival at the Plainstanes, Dumfries Town Centre    £500    o

26 May 2018, Plainstanes, The Midsteeple, Dumfries

A Saturday afternoon of entertainment from National and local performers and artists (12noon – 5pm)


  •    Other event sponsorship opportunities will                      £350 -£500  

become available as the programme is confirmed


What you get:  All sponsors will receive two tickets to attend the launch event on 15March, the opening event on 25 May and the closing event on the 2 June 2018. Sponsor logos will be included in the sponsors logo board, the relevant section of the brochure and online.  Sponsors are invited to display pop-up banner stands at relevant events.  Sponsors will be included in promotional features where possible.

  •          Festival supporter                                                                             £150    o

What you get: All festival supporters will receive two tickets to the opening event on 25 May and will be included in the supporters section of Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival website.

Questions and Answers with Business Loans Scotland

Who we are

Business Loans Scotland, a consortium of Scotland’s local authorities, provides loan finance up to £100,000 to new and growing, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Scotland. The Fund benefits from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) financial support increasing the monies available to lend to eligible businesses.

Who can apply

We can support the following types of legally formed and trading business:
• Limited Companies
• Partnerships including Limited Liability Partnerships
(LLP’s) with 4 or more partners
• Partnerships including Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP’s)
with 3 or fewer partners (loans over £25,000 only)
• Sole Traders (loans over £25,000 only)
• Businesses may operate as a Social Enterprise or Co-operative
Our primary focus is on businesses engaged in the Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) categories.
Details of eligible and ineligible sectors are available on our WEBSITE. Please contact us to discuss your eligibility.

Please use the contacts section of our website to identify your local contact and discuss support available in your area.
How can the funds be used?

Loans may be used for
• working capital
• purchase of plant and equipment
• purchase of business property

Business Loans Scotland offers gap funding up to a maximum of £100k to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) within our geographic area of operation where public sector funding (including Business Loans Scotland’s contribution), would not exceed 50% of the total funding package.

Business Loans Scotland offers Business Loans on the following terms:
• Interest typically fixed at 6% (a higher rate may be applied
for new start businesses with little or no security).
• Loan term of up to 5 years.
• Security will be taken where appropriate/relevant.
As well as our loans, we want businesses to benefit from all the expertise, advice, training and support that we can offer through our local business advice provision. The business adviser allocated when you submit an enquiry to us will discuss your requirements and offer support and assistance where relevant. This support is available throughout the period of the loan and can continue beyond this time where it is deemed beneficial to do so.

What to do next

1. Register online at using the ‘Enquire Now’ tab.
2. Once eligibility is confirmed you can apply using the Online Loan Applicationsystem (OLA). All of the information that we need including supporting documentation and financial information is uploaded in OLA.
3. Once approved, loan documentation will be issued. This sets out the terms of the Loan and any pre conditions that have to be met before the loan can be made.
4. Fulfil the preconditions and accept the loan agreement. If an application is unsuccessful then all of the business and personal
information provided will be deleted from our system.

How long does the application process take?

On average, and assuming we receive all the relevant information, a decision can be made in around 6 weeks. Throughout this process a Local Authority adviser will be your main contact and will be able to guide you through each step.


South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has described today’s (22 November) budget from the UK Government as a “huge missed opportunity for the South of Scotland” and warned that with the Chancellor reducing projections for economic growth in his budget, the economy of the area will continue to lag behind.  

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The budget was a huge missed opportunity for the South of Scotland. Despite all the hype about supporting a Borderlands Growth Deal, the Chancellor failed to allocate a single penny for such a deal which is deeply disappointing. With economic growth forecasts down and no new investment, it is clear that the economy of the south of Scotland is going to continue to lag behind the rest of the UK as a result of this budget. The continuation of austerity will also mean more cuts to our schools and hospitals and with wages down, but prices in the shops rising, families locally are becoming worse off all the time.

"The Tory Government should have used the budget to pause the disastrous Universal Credit which will be rolled out early next year in the area but their failure to do so will cause utter misery for local families affected”

“The Chancellor's commitment to exempt emergency services from VAT is welcome but does not go far enough. £140m has been unfairly taken from our emergency services by the Tory Government over the past few years following the SNP’s incompetent centralisation of police and fire services and this has led to massive cuts with the closure of the police and fire control rooms in Dumfries and police station closures across the south of Scotland. We need to ensure that every penny that will be saved by this VAT exemption goes to protecting police and fire services.”

Borderlands Budget Latest

Cross-border local authority partners have today (Wednesday, 22 November 2017) welcomed the inclusion of The Borderlands Initiative in the UK government’s budget statement. 
With Scottish Government support, this project overcomes political and cross-border differences to provide tremendous opportunities for the area’s future economic stability.
The Borderlands Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth and competitiveness of an area that straddles the Scotland-England border.

Earlier this year a formal proposition was submitted to the UK and Scottish governments for consideration, focusing on the factors which make the area attractive to investors, visitors and those who wish to relocate. It also seeks to tackle the need for population growth and improved productivity.

A Borderlands Initiative spokesperson said:
“Our shared ambition is to play our full part in the regional and wider UK economy and unlock the potential of the south of Scotland and north of England. Discussions with both governments have been positive and we welcome the inclusion of the Borderlands Initiative in the Chancellor’s budget statement, which now marks the start of the next stage in the process. The Initiative remains at a relatively early stage, but we look forward to ongoing collaboration and discussion with both governments, with a view to securing agreement as soon as possible.”

The Borderlands Initiative is focusing on several key themes, including: digital technology; innovation; low carbon; and energy. The approach is based on existing physical and infrastructure connections, and transport and connectivity are at the heart of the partners’ proposals, linking the opportunities that can be created and informing future projects.
The detail of the partners’ proposals to the UK and Scottish governments is confidential and therefore further detail cannot be released at this time.

Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr Colin Glover, said:
“The Borderlands Initiative is a shared ambition that recognises the potential for growth within our region. Carlisle is a growing city and working with local authority partners, we want to play our part. We want to drive forward projects that will make Carlisle the beating heart of the Borderlands. We’re an ambitious city that wants to provide the best platform for growth and future investment.”

Elaine Murray, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: 
“Building the local economy is one of our Council’s top priorities but brings with it some real challenges due to the rural nature of our region, which is why we are seizing this opportunity to work together with our neighbouring Local Authorities from both sides of the Border to promote and encourage investment and innovation in our area to deliver transformative change across the region.
“Through this ambitious and unique partnership we will be able to develop a range of projects, some cutting across several councils, others specific to our area. The Borderlands initiative will not only increase our lobbying powers at both the Westminster and Scottish Government’s but will also act as a mechanism for leveraging additional public and private sector investment and resources to drive long term growth our region.”

Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: 
“We’re delighted this cross-border initiative has been announced in the government’s budget statement. As a council we have been working hard with our partners in other local authorities on both sides of the border to bring this initiative together. This will allow the region to unlock the huge potential for growth that exists within the Borderlands area and drive forward economic development. This is an exciting opportunity to breathe new life into many of our communities and create new opportunities for the future."

Councillor Shona Haslam, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: 
“Sustainable economic growth and encouraging more people to visit, live and work are shared objectives for all the Borderlands partners, and today’s announcement is an important next step towards achieving potentially significant funding for the region. For the Scottish Borders, the Borderlands Initiative, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and the development of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency can all help to support and drive inclusive growth, investment and improved infrastructure.”