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

 

LOANS FOR FARMERS WELCOME BUT MORE TO BE DONE, SAYS COLIN SMYTH

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Colin Smyth has welcomedScottish Government’s decision to offer loans to allow farmers early access to their annual payment from the EU, but warned that far more needs to be done to support the industry following the impact of the recent dry weather.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Colin Smyth said:

 

“This long overdue announcement is welcome but doesn’t go far enough. Farmers have been warning of a crisis for months now, with grass growth at a standstill and hay and silage crops in some cases just half the normal level. 

“The shortages and spiraling prices for feed are hitting all sectors and both the Scottish and UK governments have to step up and do more.

"This announcement does not cover crucial Pillar 2 payments. The Scottish government must work to bring forward the payment of these schemes as a matter of urgency. 

"Beyond this, they should request a derogation of the 3-crop rule from the European Commission, shorten the EFA fallow period, and relax rules on the ploughing of ‘Green Manure crops’.

"From the relaxation of these rules and more incentives to boost animal feed supplies, there is a lot more that government can and must do to avert this crisis.” 

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUPPORT WASTE PFI CONTRACT COMING BACK TO PUBLIC CONTROL, SAYS MSP

Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has re-iterated his call for the current Waste PFI Contract between Dumfries and Galloway Council and Shanks to be brought back under public control after recent threats by the private operator put local waste services at risk.

Renewi recently threatened to suspend its services which would have led to the closure of Household Waste Recycling Centres and contingency plans having to be put in place by the Council to ensure the disposal of waste. Last week it was announced by the Council that this threat had been lifted.

The MSP originally made the call for the waste contract to be brought back under public control in March when he predicted the current PFI contract would collapse after Renewi said it wanted to pull out of its contract with Shanks to provide household waste and recycling services for Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Renewi claimed that they wanted to withdraw from the contract because they had been unable to meet legal changes on new landfill diversion and recycling requirements set by the Scottish Government.

Despite the recent threats being lifted Colin Smyth is still concerned that with no agreement over the implementation of a zero waste plan, the only sustainable solution for waste services is for them to return to public control. 

Colin Smyth is also calling on the Scottish Government to commit to supporting financially a possible move to bring the waste contract services back into public control. The U.K. and Scottish Government currently provides Level Playing Field Support and Strategic Waste Fund Support which amounts to over £4million a year. 

Colin Smyth said, “The recent action by Renewi to threaten to close facilities they are contracted to provide was completely unacceptable and simply exposes the fact our local waste services are at the mercy of private companies who don’t want anything to do with them because they don’t make them a profit. The only solution is for the current Waste PFI contract to be brought back under public control. 

This will ensure that the public sector, accountable to local people make the day to day decisions over these vital services. However, the big concern is the fact the UK and Scottish Government’s provide funding directly for the PFI. It is vital that this financial support continues. The SNP have made clear they support ending PFI contracts in the past but if they stop this funding, those claims will be empty.  It will mean that local taxpayers will have to make up any shortfall in deliver waste services which is just not acceptable.”

McAlpine welcomes support for Scotch Lamb

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed £200,000 of new funding from the Scottish Government for Quality Meat Scotland’s Scotch Lamb promotional campaign.

The First Minister confirmed the funding as she attended aa farm show today (Monday).

The sheep sector plays a significant part in Scotland’s red meat industry, which is worth £892 million to Scotland.

Ms McAlpine commented:

“Sheep production is concentrated in the South of Scotland, with Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish borders the home to 31% of all the breeding sheep – so this is good news for the region. The food and drink sector as a whole is such an important part of Dumfries and Galloway’s economy – so we must do everything we can to promote our premium produce.

“The strength of our farming industry would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of the farmers who work tirelessly to produce high quality meat.

“That hard work and premium product is recognised by the protection given by the EU to the Scotch Lamb brand and we will be working hard to continue that protection in the future.

“I’m pleased the SNP Scottish Government are supporting this year’s campaign which will help encourage consumers to buy Scotch lamb as part of their regular shopping.”

Jim McLaren, Quality Meat Scotland's Chairman, said:

"Today's announcement by the First Minister is fantastic news for the Scottish sheep industry and it's a great boost for our producers.

"This additional funding will enhance our comprehensive marketing and public relations Scotch Lamb PGI campaign, which is due to launch at the end of August.

"The eight-week campaign will spread the word to Scottish consumers about the quality, taste and versatility of Scotch Lamb - the perfect mid-week meal."

MSP celebrates region’s agricultural sector at Dumfries Show

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine celebrated the success of Dumfries and Galloway’s agricultural sector as she attended the annual Dumfries Show last Saturday (August 3rd).

The SNP MSPmet with representatives from Scotland’s Rural College, NFU Scotland, and Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Women’s Network.

Commenting Ms McAlpine said:

“The Dumfries Show is always an enjoyable day, and a staple of any local MSP or MP’s calendar. This year was a packed show and a huge success.

“On Saturday I was delighted to meet with staff from the SRUC to learn more about their Veterinary Nursing degree – the first degree course to be offered at Barony Campus. There are still a few spaces left for this year, so anyone with an interest can have a look at the College’s website or go along to the Open Day on August 9th.

“I also took the opportunity to attend the NFU Scotland stand – where a reception was held celebrating the success of Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Women’s Network; the Health and Wellbeing in the Farming Community Project and the region’s Retired Farming Social Group – one year on from their launch.

 

“The agricultural sector is so important to the region, and we are lucky to have so many enterprising individuals developing sustainable businesses. It was fantastic to have an opportunity to celebrate and highlight that.”

SCOTTISH LABOUR LEADER, RICHARD LEONARD, GIVES BACKING TO A75 AND A77 CAMPAIGNS

Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard MSP, has given his backing to the A77 Action Group and the Dual the A75 campaigns to seek major improvements in the two trunk roads.

Richard Leonard met with representatives of both the A75 and A77 groups and representatives of ferry company Stena Line along with local Labour MSP and Labour Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth when he visited Stena Line’s Loch Ryan Port on Monday 6 August. 

Mr Leonard gave his backing to the campaigns and said a Labour Government was determined to increase Government investment in infrastructure, which would benefit trunk roads in the region.

The Scottish Labour leader said, “Meeting with the A77 Action Group and the Dual the A75 campaign has made it clear that the two trunk roads are being left behind by the current SNP and Tory Governments.  The two campaign groups have set out a compelling case highlighting not only the fact the region hasn’t always got its fair share of investment in the past, but they need to address that now.

“The A75 and A77 trunk roads are not only vital for the communities and economies of Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire, but also have a huge strategic importance for the whole of the Scottish economy.

“The Labour Party is the only party that rejects the politics of austerity and has set out clear plans to increase spending in our infrastructure, which is being starved of investment.  You cannot cut your way out of recession.  We need to be honest with the public, make the case for higher public spending and say that will mean higher taxes for those with the most wealth.  A Labour Government both in Westminster and in Holyrood would significantly increase funding for infrastructure projects which would help to grow our economy and that increased funding would help the people living here along the A77 and A75.”

Colin Smyth MSP said, “I am delighted that Richard Leonard was able to come and speak to the A77 Action Group, Dual the A75 and Stena Line.  I stood for Parliament because I felt that our region wasn’t being listened to and was too often forgotten about.  The current state of the A75 and A77 is a clear example of this, and I am pleased that Richard came to the region to make clear his support for investment in the major infrastructure serving our region.  It is vital that we get that message across to Government, so I hope that the new Transport Minister will not only also meet with the action groups but actually visit the region to see for himself how the lack of investment in the A75 and A77 is impacting on the local economy.”

Donald McHarrie, a member of the A77 Action Group said, “We are grateful to Richard Leonard making the time to come a meet with us at Cairnryan in his role as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.  We fully welcome his support and look forward to working with him and Colin Smyth MSP in the future.  We would also like to encourage the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, to attend our planned conference in October this year so he sees for himself the dire need for investment here on the A77 and A75.”