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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.

 

Share your vision on Annan High Street

Do you ever say “Why didn’t they …?”

Well, we would like you to tell us what we maybe haven’t considered yet in relation to Annan High Street! Our Council are asking the people of Annan for their opinions in order to develop a plan of action to refresh Annan High Street and make it better for businesses and the community.

Our Council’s Annan Masterplan identifies a number of priority projects in the Town and the need to develop sustainable economic growth by maximising development and employment opportunities. We believe that the growth of the service and tourism sectors is particularly important to the regeneration of Annan High Street and this will be critical in establishing the diversity and attractiveness of Annan as a place to live and visit.

The Plan also highlights the need to create opportunities for economic growth by improving High Street shops and buildings. A team of designers and planners has been busy working behind the scenes for the last few weeks, speaking to the public, business owners along the High Street and pupils in local schools to find out what they would like. 

On Saturday 14th April, our design team will be in the Market Hall from 10am to 2:30pm to present some initial ideas based on what we have heard so far.  Nothing has been decided: we’d like you to come along, view the proposals, and maybe suggest some other ideas to add to those we already have.

When we have your ideas, our design team will work up the suggestions in more detail before holding another event in June to check that we’re going in the right direction.  Final costed proposals will then be drawn up so we can look at funding and develop a plan of action.

Cllr Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said: “The aim of this project is to develop design proposals for High Street improvements that will form part of the regeneration initiatives aimed at strengthening the civic and commercial core of Annan. The opinions of our local communities’ are invaluable to us as they are at the heart of our decision-making.

Big projects like this take time: change won’t start to happen until at least next year, but this is a golden opportunity to influence what your High Street could be like in the future.“

 Drop in to the Market Hall on Downie’s Wynd any time between 10am and 2:30pm on Saturday 14th April to find out more.  Members of the Community Council will also be there to hear any thoughts you have for the wider town

Galloway Beef Project Goes Global

The Galloway Cattle Society is looking for two young people to send on a once in a lifetime learning journey to Australia.  The prize is a trip to the Galloway World Congress, taking place in Melbourne from 28th September to 3rd October this year. 

The Society is looking for one inspirational young farmer with an interest in Galloways plus one young supply chain partner, such as a young butcher or chef, who are keen to capitalise on the opportunity of a paid trip to the World Congress to see how Galloways are reared down under.  The goal of the learning journey is to encourage an interest in Galloways and to add to the knowledge base of young Galloway farmers and supply chain partners in Scotland.

The learning journey competition is being run as part of the Society’s Defining Galloway Beef project during Scotland’s Year of Young People, and the project is part funded by Dumfries and Galloway’s LEADER programme. 

Chair of the Galloway Cattle Society, John Finlay, said:

“Dumfries & Galloway might be the home of the Galloway but the popularity of the breed is global and we’re keen to unlock that international learning and experience of this breed and bring it back to Scotland to inspire and educate young people within our industry. 

“It’s important that young farmers in our region don’t take for granted the fantastic attributes of Galloways, so to see the breed being valued and managed in different climates and landscapes is important in making sure we don’t lose sight of how important our own native cattle are.

“This project is a super opportunity to inspire the next generation of young farmers and our supply chain partners, so I’m delighted to now invite applications to this competition.“ 

The competition is open to any young person aged between 18-30 years who is actively working within the farming or beef supply chain industries.  Application forms are available from the Society who can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The trip is the second in a series of three international learning journeys designed to inspire and upskill farmers’ under 30 who have an interest in the Galloway breed.  The first learning journey to the Denver Cattle Show earlier this year resulted

Andrew Hunter Blair from Dalry (pictured) who took part in the Denver trip said:

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and I would encourage anybody with an interest in Galloways to apply for one of these learning journeys.  We learned a great deal on our trip, and it was interesting to see the similarities as well as the differences in grading and stock handling.  For example, I found it very interesting to learn about the American meat grading system and seeing another country’s ideas of what they look for in a beef animal.”

TSB Announces New Way To Build Credit History

TSB is partnering with start-up ‘LOQBOX’ to provide UK consumers with alternative options to build their credit history that doesn’t rely on spending and paying off debt but instead building their savings.

TSB’s Product Manager, Will Langdon-Davies struck up a conversation with entrepreneur Tom Eyre at their local pub in Bishopswood about the lack of options available to help people build their credit score.

Soon Tom, with his business partner Gregor Mowat, were at TSB’s office in London discussing what they had developed and how LOQBOX would help customers build their credit history by transferring their savings into monthly finance payments – similar to cash-secured lending.

So how does it work?

Customers select a certain amount each month – between £20 to £500 – that they want to save over the course of a year.  They then purchase a LOQBOX digital savings voucher worth 12 times this monthly savings commitment. Instead of buying their LOQBOX outright, they use 12-month interest-free finance to buy it. The finance payments are equal to the monthly savings commitment they signed up for and, because they are reported to the three main UK credit reference agencies, lenders can see that the customer is a responsible borrower who can manage credit.  At the end of the 12 months, not only has the customer built up a strong credit history, but they get their lump sum of savings returned to them.

TSB’s Product Director, Jatin Patel says: “At TSB, we’re always looking at solutions that help bring more competition to UK banking and ultimately make banking better for all UK consumers so when Will presented what LOQBOX had to offer we knew we wanted to be a part of it. LOQBOX’s solution will improve financial inclusion for a number of people.

“LOQBOX will give hundreds of thousands of consumers who don’t have a good credit score, through no fault of their own, the opportunity to prove that they are creditworthy.  For example, people who’ve never borrowed in the past, people who are new to the country, ex-members of the armed forces, and the growing younger consumers who are applying for credit for the first time will no longer be credit excluded.”

Tom Eyre, CEO and co-founder of LOQBOX says: “At LOQBOX, we’re delighted to partner with TSB, a bank with a strong social purpose and a fantastic, disruptive, challenger brand that really appeals to our users. We are passionate about helping make the financial system work for everyone, including those who have been excluded from it. This partnership with TSB is yet more proof that co-operation within financial services can lead to a more inclusive system for everyone.” 

LOQBOX also recently took home the accolade for Digital Agenda Impact Award for Financial Inclusion. The award recognises its achievements in fixing financial inclusion through the use of tech for good.  

The best part of the LOQBOX solution is that if for any reason customers can’t make a payment or don’t want to keep saving, they can simply ‘unlock’ (redeem) their LOQBOX and cash out early, without penalty and without damaging their credit history.

LOQBOX funds are stored in a UK bank account that is fully ring-fenced and also has FSCS protection for each LOQBOX user.

Council Workers in Region at Lowest Number Since Devolution

The number of local government employees in Dumfries and Galloway has fallen to its lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was establsihed, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has revealed.

In the first quarter of 2000, there were 7,400 employees of Dumfries and Galloway Council (5,500 full-time equivalents).

The number peaked at 8,700 in the first quarter of 2006 (a full-time equivalent of 6,500) during last full year of the previous Labour led Scottish Executive. 

However, under the current SNP Government the number of employees has falling to 7,200 (a full-time equivalent of 5,200) in the final quarter of 2017 – a massive 1,500 job losses under the SNP.

In their recent budget, Dumfries and Galloway Council explained how they have had to make £86m of savings since 2010- with this year’s funding gap of £13.023m filled through a 3% rise in council tax and savings of £10.979m.

If the current policy of austerity from Government continues it is estimated the council will have to make further savings of £48m over the next three years.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The fact that the Council has had to axe jobs because of Scottish Government cuts won’t come as a surprise to anyone. However, few people will have realised the scale of those cuts, with 1,500 jobs going in the last decade under the SNP and this excluded the hundreds of police and fire service job losses we have seen in the area”.

“This devastating level of job cuts not only impacts on the delivery of many local council services but the whole local economy suffers, with local shops and other businesses seeing a downturn a fall in income”.

“Council services are crucial in the fight against poverty and delivering education and social care so these job losses hurt the poorest the hardest because they rely on those services most”.

“What is so frustrating about these massive jobs cuts is the fact that they don’t need to happen. Instead of the SNP government taking Tory austerity and passing it straight on to councils and local communities through cuts, they could have used the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to block austerity”.

“In the recent budget Scottish Labour set out plans to stop the cuts by asking the richest to pay a bit more and giving new powers to councils to raise income through a tax on vacant land and a social responsibility levy on alcohol sales. Instead we had an SNP budget that has meant a further £10 million of cuts and increases in council tax in Dumfries and Galloway and as a result of that budget the number of council staff is going to plummet by several hundred more. It is little wonder the local economy in Dumfries and Galloway is in such a precarious position. The last thing our area needs just now is yet more job losses.”

Business Secretary meets with Young's Seafood

 

After a meeting with Young's Seafood, Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said

“Following on from the very disappointing news that emerged yesterday from Young’s Seafood, regarding their Pinney’s seafood processing plant in Annan, I have today had a constructive discussions with both the management at Young’s and the leadership of Dumfries and Galloway Council. 

“I confirmed that the Scottish Government, our agencies and other local stakeholders are all committed to working in partnership with Young’s to explore any potential options to retain production at the site and safeguard as many jobs as possible. We seek to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to retain employment, given the importance of the plant to the economic wellbeing of the community. 

“Young’s have provided a detailed insight into those factors underlying the proposal to potentially close the site, and signalled their agreement to work with us, throughout and beyond the forthcoming consultation period with their staff, to explore all viable options, including the prospect of identifying new market opportunities and the potential reconfiguration of the site, to sustain production levels in Annan.

“While this will clearly be a very worrying time for Young’s employees, their families and the wider community, I want to assure all those who are affected by this that we are committed to doing everything we can to find a viable solution.  Furthermore, we will convene a meeting later this week with our partners at Dumfries and Galloway Council and other partner enterprise and skills agencies to map out the next steps in our efforts to try to save jobs at Pinney’s and to ensure we work together, as a team, in the best interests of the people of Annan.”