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


SoSEP funding wheels out Digital Hubs and Spokes

The South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership [SoSEP] is investing in Digital Hubs in Dumfries and Galloway as part of a £6.6m investment in a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway College and Borders College.

In this region, the project includes setting up 2 Digital Hubs at College campuses [Dumfries and Stranraer] and 10 Digital Spoke rooms in secondary schools. In phase 1, 4 schools [Annan Academy, Castle Douglas High School, Douglas Ewart High School, Sanquhar Academy] and The Bridge will become Digital Spokes. They will be enabled as modern video conferencing facilities equipped with hi-definition touch-screen displays, hi-spec video conference cameras, advanced microphones, and updated learning spaces.

The equipment will enable remote and on-site learning, providing staff with opportunities to expand online and remote delivery of courses and link with other educational establishments worldwide. This will significantly enhance curriculum choices without the need for travel.

The 4 schools in Dumfries and Galloway were chosen for phase 1 because of rurality, equal opportunity, geographical location [1 in each area], and existing partnership links with Dumfries and Galloway College.

An additional 5 schools in Dumfries and Galloway will be enabled in phase 2 next year.

Councillor Jeff Leaver, chair of the Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning [CYPLL] committee, said: “This investment can deliver a significant improvement in opportunities to access education across our region. In a regional economy such as ours, it’s vital that we overcome barriers to education to ensure that people can develop the skills and knowledge they need.”

Councillor Ros Surtees, vice-chair, said: “Education opens doors to opportunities for people to become successful learners. It builds confidence and enables people to develop as citizens and contribute to society. So, I’m delighted by this investment, which will significantly improve education opportunities across our region.”

Andy Glen, Acting Principal, Dumfries & Galloway College, said: “We’re pleased to be working in collaboration with the Council to provide students across the region with the opportunity to access the very latest virtual classroom technology to enable them to realise their full potential.”


  • More than six out of ten millennials say money worries keeps them up at night
  • Seven out of ten millennials blame social media for a false picture of what a successful life looks like 
  • While 66% feel pressured to achieve certain milestones by a certain age  
  • Three quarters (73%) of millennials who are parents admit they are kept awake with the stress of money matters. 
An annual study tracking UK millennials as they mature, reveals they feel social pressure to succeed,the annual Millennial Money Survey out today polled more than 4,500 people, including 2,500 millennials (who are now aged 22 to 38), to explore how money impacts young people's home and work lives, as well as gauge their future life goals.
Dr Eliza Filby
Money worries
While a lucky one in three (34%) millennials report never feeling stressed about money, financial concerns keep more than three-fifths (66%) awake at night (10m people). Three quarters (73%) of millennials who are parents admit they are kept awake with the stress of money matters study from BMO F&C Investment .
Thinking about debt and paying household bills are the double act upsetting a fifth of millennials' slumber (19% for both debt and bills); followed by not being able to provide for the family (17%) and paying the rent or mortgage (15%).
Despite money worries and barriers to saving money for their future, over half (53%) of millennials feel happy with their home life, but worryingly one in eight (13% - about 1.9m people) report feeling unhappy at home.
Two-thirds (67%) of 22 to 38 year olds think social media is to blame for portraying a false picture of what young people must achieve to be successful, while a similar number feel pressured to achieve certain milestones by a certain age (66%). Seeing friends' lives and achievements puts four out of ten (42%) under pressure as they feel the need to keep up with their friends' achievements. 


Commenting on the findings, Dr. Eliza Filby, a generations expert and historian, said:
"As they move into their mid-twenties through to late thirties, millennials are starting to worry about their financial health and future. Their parents, the Baby Boomers came of age in the 1980s when economics, culture and politics converged; they were encouraged and incentivised to invest in their future in the form of house-buying, private pension schemes and investments of other sorts. Baby Boomers went from hippies to yuppies, which is why one in five baby boomers in the UK is a millionaire, according to FT analysis of ONS data. 
We must stop trying to fit millennials into the baby boomer straight jacket. 
Millennials still want to buy a home, but they see it as exactly that, a home not an investment as Baby Boomers may see it. Millennials still worry about their financial future, as these findings attest, but they have a very different set of priorities - both short and long term - than their boomer parents. They would rather spend their money travelling when they are young, than saving up for the dream cruise in their seventies. Given they expect to work much longer, they see their pension not as funding their post-sixties lifestyle but as a social care plan for their final years." 


Losing sleep

  • 60% of millennials Scotland say money worries keeps them up at night
  • Top money worries for millennials in Scotland are:
o   Debt (22%)
o   Bills (19%)
o   Providing for family (12%)
o   Effect of the UK economy on my finances (12%)
o   Money owed to family/friends (11%)
o   Losing job (11%)
Social media
  • 66% of millennials in Scotland blame social media for a false picture of what young people must achieve to be successful
  • 67% of millennials in Scotland feel under pressure to achieve certain milestones by a certain age
  • 37% of millennials in Scotland feel under pressure to keep up with their friends' achievements
Taking control of finances
  • 66% of people Scotland will do something with their money for the first time in 2019
  • Top financial firsts are:
o   Pay off debts (25%)
o   Start saving regularly (20%)
o   Create a budget (15%)

VIBES Awards urge Dumfries and Galloway businesses to become sustainable leaders and boost growth

Businesses in Dumfries and Galloway are being encouraged to become world leaders in sustainability and embrace the economic opportunities that environmental changes can bring.



The VIBES Scottish Environment Business Awards (VIBES) is celebrating its 20th year and is calling on Scottish businesses to mark the milestone by helping to tackle the environmental challenges facing Scotland and the rest of the world.

Businesses in Scotland have already seen an impact first hand on the risks associated with climate change, when food producers and whisky distillers were faced with water scarcity last summer. Recent studies have shown that we only have 12 years to avert a climate change disaster and that by 2050, 1.8m* people in West Central Scotland will be affected as a result of climate changes.

Commenting, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, said: “We are all aware of the urgent environmental issues affecting our planet, and businesses across Scotland have a vital role to play in helping to safeguard it for future generations.

“I look forward to the VIBES Awards celebrating those businesses that are leading on developing sustainable solutions and environmental practices while embracing a vibrant and innovative circular economy.”

Dumfries and Galloway businesses are being encouraged to follow the example of Vegware and Paterson Arran Ltd. who have shown that environmental best practice can also bring economic benefits including financial savings, an engaged workforce, positive working culture and improved competitiveness as well as contributing towards a better economy and society as a whole.

Since its inception in 1999, the VIBES Scottish Business Awards, have recognised and rewarded more than 150 businesses that have championed sustainability by identifying ways to tackle the impact on the planet by reducing consumption on its resources. This has included everything from increasing recycling and facilitating active travel to reducing consumption of raw materials by adopting a more circular approach.

In Scotland alone, there’s an estimated £1billion** benefit for circular economy businesses in key cities and regions while on a global level at least 12 trillion dollars*** of market opportunities and 380million jobs could be created by 2030 if sustainable development goals were adopted in food and agriculture, cities, energy, health and wellbeing.

Bob Downes, chair of SEPA and head of the VIBES judging panel, added: “The scale of environmental challenges facing humanity is enormous and there is a real urgency to act in light of what science is showing us.

“Businesses have a responsibility and it’s empowering to see so many organisations no longer viewing climate adaptation and environmental performance as a burden and cost but as an economic opportunity - it is these businesses that will thrive.

“As the VIBES Awards have shown, many businesses in Scotland are doing great work and SEPA’s own figures reinforce this, with the environmental compliance of Scottish regulated businesses exceeding 90% for a third year running, however, we cannot rest on our laurels. We want to help Scottish businesses respond to these environmental challenges and reap the benefit and as we enter the 20th year of VIBES, we hope to inspire others to instigate change.”

This year’s award categories include: Leadership Scotland, Innovating Scotland, Product Scotland, Service Scotland, Hydro Nation Scotland, Circular Scotland, Moving Scotland, Adapting Scotland, Engaging Scotland, Partnership Scotland, Small Business Scotland.

As part of this year’s anniversary celebrations, a special Best of VIBES Award will also be presented at the official ceremony and will recognise a past winner - from a shortlist of the 10 best entries - that can demonstrate their continuous improvement and contribution to Scotland’s sustainable development.

The 10 shortlisted businesses were announced at the launch event and include – Aqualution Systems Ltd, Castle Group Scotland, Chivas Brothers Ltd, CMS Window Systems, Emtelle UK Limited, Farne Salmon, Paterson Arran Ltd, The Bay Fish and Chips, The Deep Project - The Glenmorangie Company and Vegware. The winner will be selected via a public vote at the official awards ceremony in November.

The awards are committed to supporting businesses interested in sustainable development and will also be hosting a series of free regional information events with a selection of previous winners. The VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards roadshows will take place across Scotland with the first of these events held at the James Hutton Institute, Dundee, on 16 April.

The 20th anniversary awards ceremony will be held on 14 November at Doubletree by Hilton in Glasgow. Award sponsors to date include Adaptation Scotland, Mabbett & Associates Ltd, Scottish Government, ScottishPower, The Glenmorangie Company and headline sponsor, Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard.

Businesses have until 5pm on 10 May 2019 to submit their free application. To obtain an application form please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Regional event spaces can be booked at

For more informant on VIBES - Scottish Environment Business Awards, please visit

Spring Fling WaterOrgan Musical Artwork to be Launched on the Nith

Visitors to Scotland’s premiere open studios weekend will be treated to the unusual sight and sound of a pipe organ on a custom made boat moored on the River Nith.

WaterOrgan, which is supported by EventScotland (part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate), is the creation of Mark Zygadlo who is well known for highly inventive floating artworks.


Photo by Colin Hattersley.

The Dumfries and Galloway artist will launch the musical catamaran near the old Auldgirth Bridge, off the A76 between Dumfries and Thornhill, just ahead of the Spring Fling weekend from 25 to 27 May.

The playlist is still being sorted out but the tunes could include The Blue Danube, Old Man River and Rabbie Burns’ Sweet Afton.

Mark, from nearby Glenhead, said: “I am fascinated by water, and by rivers especially, as a platform for public art. The Nith is a wonderful river and a perfect platform for an artwork like this.

“We really hope that visitors will find it fun and enjoy spending some time next to the river and listening to the music and other sounds it will generate.”

WaterOrgan is also intended to get people thinking more about our rivers, the environmental issues affecting them, what they mean to us and how we can live with them in positive and celebratory way.

Mark, who has spent many years working with wooden boats and is a keen sailor, built the pipe organ from scratch and has mounted it on an 18ft catamaran hull.

A water wheel mounted between the hulls will power the organ via a system of cogs and drive belts.

Previous projects have included a tide-operated performance platform called the Tide Machine, in collaboration with Oceanallover

Mark was also a co-founder of the Nithraid boat race in Dumfries and crafted the floating crane that is used to plunge a Salty Coo into the river after it has been carried through the streets at the end of the annual event.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: “We always try to encourage Spring Fling visitors to enjoy the beautiful Dumfries and Galloway countryside.

“The WaterOrgan is a great way of doing that – visitors can make the artwork part of their journey around the region. Bring the family, the WaterOrgan will be something to excite and inspire all ages.”

Spring Fling is a much-loved feature of the Scotland’s cultural calendar, which this year sees 94 studios across the beautiful region of Dumfries and Galloway, throw open their doors to the public.

It’s a chance to meet painters, original printmakers, ceramicists, jewellers and glassmakers, wood and metal workers, photographers in the cottages, farms, galleries, mills, converted churches and other places that they work and live.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events for VisitScotland, said: “Spring Fling is a fantastic event that truly showcases the skills and work of the region’s artists and makers, and EventScotland is delighted to be supporting it through our Beacon Programme.

“Mark Zygadlo’s fun and inventive public artwork WaterOrgan will no doubt capture the imagination of both locals and visitors alike and will provide the perfect platform to celebrate the country’s rivers and waterways in the run-up to Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.”

Visitors will be able to see WaterOrgan working 10.30am to 5.30pm on 25 to 27 May.

Dr David Borthwick of the University of Glasgow will be holding talks for WaterOrgan visitors at 2pm on 25 May and 7pm on 26 May about Our Relationship with Rivers and Waters. See


The latest SCC Quarterly Economic Indicator survey for Q1 of 2019 shows the health of the Scottish economy weakened considerably in the first quarter of this year. With the backdrop of an uncertain global environment and the cloud of Brexit hanging over the UK economy, key Scottish industrial sectors have experienced an investment slowdown as business costs and Brexit preparations take top priority. 



  • On Wage Increases: Every sector in the survey faced rising wage pressures with construction and retail reporting the biggest wage increases in over a dozen years.
  • On Investment: Investment performance is lower in every sector year on year except construction, while investment intentions remain restrained confirming a wait-and-see approach to spending.
  • On Business Confidence: The level of business optimism is lower across all sectors but retail compared to the previous quarter. Manufacturing has been particularly hit, as confidence dipped to the lowest level recorded for the sector since 2012.

Commenting on the results, Tim Allan, Chairman of the Scottish Business Advisory Group and President of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

"The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has undoubtedly taken a toll on business confidence in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019. Companies in Scotland are caught in a pincer movement of business challenges. On one hand, businesses are faced with increased cost pressures such as rising costs due to currency weakness and higher wages, and on the other they are hit by the dampening effects of political turmoil caused by the ongoing uncertainty of our future relationship with the EU. 

“There is an immediate urgency to deal with Brexit, which is hampering our ability to compete on the international stage. We see this borne out in the decline in confidence, difficulties in recruitment and challenges in exporting. Furthermore, restraint on plans to invest will do nothing to solve Scotland’s ongoing productivity challenge which requires sustained levels of investment in skills and training if we are to see the shift the economy needs.

"Our survey has shown some real areas of robustness which highlights the resilience of Scottish businesses and their resolve to stay focused on creating jobs and paying taxes to fund vital public services. But the pressure on Scottish firms is rising, with the prospect of increased costs due to inflation, currency volatility, Brexit preparations and the prospect of increased taxation remaining as top concerns for all sectors."


Professor Graeme Roy, Director at the University of Strathclyde's Fraser of Allander Institute, said:

“This latest Scottish Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Indicator shows that Scottish businesses remain relatively resilient despite uncertain trading conditions. The lack of clarity about the UK’s terms of exit from the EU continues to cast a shadow over day-to-day decision making, with businesses clearly struggling to make long-term plans in such times. 

“Weak business investment has been a feature of recent times, and this latest survey shows that firms are becoming even more reluctant to make investment decisions at this present time. This is an unwelcome sign given the key role that investment plays in boosting productivity, and in turn improving long-term economic prosperity.

“With high rates of employment across the Scottish economy, the survey also identified that for many firms, pressure for pay increases remains on the up.” 

On Wage Increases and Cost Pressures, Tim Allan, continued:

“Every sector in the survey faced rising wage pressures with construction and retail reporting the biggest wage increases in over a dozen years. Scottish employers are counting the cost of tightened labour markets as well as rises in pension contributions, the apprenticeship levy and National Minimum Wage. 

"In addition, tourism, retail & wholesale and financial & business services experienced higher than expected additional overhead costs for the first quarter of the year, potentially as a result of having to plan for the risk of a no-deal Brexit."

On Investment, Tim Allan, said:

"Investment performance was lower in every sector year on year, with the exception of construction, which still experienced restrained levels of investment. Political turmoil has had a clear impact on the ability of businesses to invest in new staff, new equipment and expansion. If the recent uncertainty that has been hanging over businesses can be cleared, the economy is likely to benefit from a significant spike in new investment.

“Likewise, a stable domestic policy environment which prioritises skills development and a competitive non-domestic rates package would provide a clear signal of confidence to the private sector and unlock investment."

On Exporting and International Business, Tim Allan, said:

"The manufacturing industry experienced a continued decline in export orders, as an uncertain global economy and UK's prolonged negotiations with the European Union, start to impact on company order books. The tourism sector experienced a noticeable fall in the number of visitors coming from the European Union and the rest of the world, in comparison to the same numbers for Q1 2018. 'Staycations' from Scottish visitors remained the only positive visitor trend for the sector. Boosting levels of international trade is crucial for the Scottish economy and maintaining a business-friendly trading environment with the European Union will act as a critical enabler of Scotland's future exporting potential as well as our ability to attract investment and visitors to Scotland."