News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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

 

Help Avaliable Following Storm Frank

Following Storm Frank and the severe flooding that hit some of the towns in our region, Dumfries and Galloway Council are committed to helping local businesses get back to normal. 

Business Gateway advisers and officers from the Economic Development services have been out in all the affected towns, visiting the businesses that suffered during the floods.  They have been talking to owners and staff about the impact the floods had and any issues they are now facing.  The officers are providing lots of information and support including how to help with insurance, about potential funding that may be available, if alternative premises may be required, etc.

The team are trying to contact all businesses that were impacted by the flooding.  However, there may be some businesses that the team aren’t aware of that may also have been impacted.

If your business requires some assistance or support with regards to specific Business continuity and you haven’t been contacted, then the team would like to hear from you.   Dedicated phone lines have been set up to help with your calls:

Stephanie Carrick – 01387 273998

Liz Macpherson - 01387 273992

You can also email our dedicated email box: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Scottish Flood Forum drop-in sessions

In addition, The Scottish Flood Forum is a Scottish based Charitable Organisation that provides support for and represents those who are affected by or are at risk of flooding and is funded by the Scottish Government. They have been in touch in relation to the flooding within Newton Stewart.

This Forum will be setting up a weekly drop-in session, one day per week from next Tuesday (12th Jan) at the McMillan Hall in Newton Stewart to provide advice on property and insurance issues in relation to both residential and businesses properties as well as discussing how to make properties more resilient for the future.

Advisors are also available on 01698 839021 or you can visit the website on the following link: www.scottishfloodforum.org

Council Asked to Back Move to Attract Extra European Funding

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee (12th Dec) will be asked to support proposals that could see the creation of a new Southern Scotland statistical area, potentially attracting extra EU Funding into the Southern Scotland.

At the moment Scotland is divided into four large regions - Eastern, North Eastern and South Western Scotland plus Highlands and Islands - to inform regional policy development and determine regional funding.

But following extensive lobbying by the South of Scotland Alliance (SOSA) , the Scottish government is consulting on proposals to creating a fifth. A report to councillors on the Committee has advised them to support the plan as it could bring extra funding into the area.

The South of Scotland Alliance (SoSA), a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway Council with Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Enterprise has been concerned about the current NUTS2 boundaries within Scotland for some time due to the low Gross Domestic Product (GPD) per head in the South of Scotland area being masked as our area is grouped in with the higher GDP area of Glasgow. This often has the result that funding received does not necessarily reflect the challenges faced in rural Dumfries and Galloway.

Previous moves to create a new region that only included Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders within the new boundary have been turned down by the Scottish Government due to the low population. However a revised proposal which now includesScottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, and also including the North Ayrshire mainland.

Research by the South of Scotland Alliance has demonstrated that these regions are similar in economies, demographics and rurality and their combination would provide a better focus for Policy development.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee , who is Co Chair of the South of Scotland Alliance said, “Through the South of Scotland Alliance we have made a strong case to the Scottish Government for a new southern Scotland and we are pleased to see that it has been included in the Scottish Government’s review. 

At the moment, Dumfries and Galloway is grouped with the other areas in the West – which includes Glasgow and Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.   Being grouped with these areas means that our rurality is sometimes ignored as the focus is on the larger cities.

By creating a separate Southern Scotland area, it will allow us to tap into EU funding that we currently aren’t eligible for.  This will mean more money into the South of Scotland and more money into Scotland overall.  At the same time the change would have no detrimental impact on any other area.

The proposed new boundary would not stop us from still working alongside other local authorities like Glasgow and Edinburgh when needed, but the proposed new NUTS area would help us to become more focussed and with an increased presence, alongside our more rural neighbours.

The final decision will be made by the EU and will also need the support of the UK government but the first step is gaining the support of the Scottish Government through their consultation”

Council to Consider Funding Request for Theatre Royal

At the meeting of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee on 12 January, Councillors will be asked to approve a contribution of £50,000 for the Theatre Royal.
The request for the funding has been received from the Master of the Guild of Players of Dumfries for the Theatre Royal project.


The Council's Policy and Resources Committee agreed a grant of £455,000 to the Guild of Players towards the Theatre Royal project in May 2013. The grant was made from a reserve created in 2006 to assist with theatrical development in Dumfries. The decision took into account a consultants' report from EKOS, which made reference to the unique status of the Theatre Royal in Dumfries, the asset condition, the significant additional funding available from Holywood Trust and other funders, and the potential to consolidate provision within an expanded Theatre Royal building envelope. EKOS's recommendation to award grant was based on a number of conditions requiring the Guild to engage more widely in supporting the delivery of the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.


When the Policy and Resources Committee agreed the funding in May 2013, the total project budget at that time was estimated at being £1.905M. The project is now nearing completion, but with final projected spend now £2.110M. This is due to unforeseen structural issues, specifically the interior walls and ceilings of the original auditorium which deteriorated rapidly as the building began to dry out, significantly increased Mechanical and Engineering costs, and an increase in water connection/disconnection charges. The Guild has taken steps to control costs, including substitution of the planned sound system with second-hand equipment, and removal of the planned goods lift from the basement. The Guild of Players has provided assurances that it considers there to be no further potential claims under their works contracts.
The Guild of Players has secured additional funding of £0.090M and are currently seeking to raise a further £0.115M, for which the Guild is seeking support from a number of sources including the sum requested from the Council.
The project has also benefited from £7,500 funding from the Council/Sustrans project to deliver regeneration of the Queen Street area. Members at the committee next week will be told that funding can be accelerated within the Dumfries Town Centre Regeneration Capital programme for 2016-17, given the impact on the Queen Street/Shakespeare Street area of the refurbished Theatre Royal and formerly adjacent buildings now incorporated into the wider site.


Chair of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, Colin Smyth, said "The refurbishment of Theatre Royal is a key part of the regeneration of Dumfries Town centre in particular our ambitious plans for the Queen Street area of the town. It is a building of national cultural and historic significance which could so easily have been lost to the town had it not been for the refurbishment plans from the Guild of Players. As a council we were delighted to make a significant contribution towards turning the plan into a reality when we allocated £455,000 and you only have to visit the Theatre to see the fantastic job that has been done. The refurbishment also resulted in significant investment being brought into the town from a range of external funders. Now the refurbishment work is complete councillors will consider a final one off payment from our regeneration fund, although as a council we look forward to working with the Theatre in the months and years ahead. Having a first class theatre venue in our town allows a vibrant programme of events to take place, attracting local people and visitors to our region. There is also the really exciting prospect of young people from local schools being able to take part in workshops in Scotland's oldest working theatre so that this iconic theatre will be enjoyed by many generations to come."

 

Council Considers Community Links Funding

At the meeting of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee (EEC) on 12th January 2016 Members will be asked to agree to bid for funding from Sustrans in order to improve active travel links, particularly in Dumfries and Dalbeattie.  Sustrans have advised that Community Links funding is available, with bids to be submitted by 12 February 2016.

Having previously considered plans at the EEC committee in February 2016, bids are proposed for works in Moffat Road, Dumfries (link to Dumfries High School and to Marchfield development) and for Church Street / Solway Street, Annan (signal control of junction incorporating pedestrian and cycle provision and links on either side).

Also previously identified, in May 2014, was a review of the potential for walking and cycling connections in Dalbeattie. This has now been undertaken, focusing on links to the planned new school and the recently opened Craignair Health Centre.

Additional works are being  being considered covering a significant part of Dalbeattie to create active travel links between the new school and the health centre and Dalbeattie town centre and all housing south of the A711, Craignair Street/John Street. These works will include:

  • The route between the health centre and High Street via Urr Road, Kerr Park and Burn Street;
  • The route between the new school and High Street via Urr Road , Kerr park and Burn Street;
  • The route between the new school and health centre and Port Street and south of there.

Preliminary consultation has already been carried out on these possible works with Local Members and community representatives via the ‘Healthy Dalbeattie’ group. It is recommended that Members submit a bid for delivery of these works in financial year 2016-17 with a view to submitting further bids in the future, as opportunities arise.

Councillors will also look at the proposed project of a shared use path at Eastfield Road/Rosevale Street, Dumfries, which already has completed design work in place, but is unlikely to be delivered during the current financial year.

Chair of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Colin Smyth said: “By developing active transport routes and reviewing our local walking and cycling connections we are increasing accessibility for the community and encouraging healthy and active lifestyles. This is particularly important for routes to local schools. We have been successful in the past when securing match funding for such projects from Sustrans and Councillors will have the opportunity to build on this success and consider further schemes ”

Support Flooding in Following Storm Frank

Communities across the region are trying to get back to normal following Storm Frank last week. A number of towns across the region suffered severe flooding, power outages and road closures. Some of the flooding was the worst local communities have ever experienced, with people and businesses evacuated from their premises.

The Council is committed to supporting businesses that suffered as a result of the weather and help them get back to normal as soon as possible. Teams of business advisers have visited all the towns who suffered from the flooding. They were out knocking the doors in Newton Stewart, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas and Dumfries yesterday. They visited all local businesses in these towns, speaking to owners and staff and asking what their needs are. The advisers have also been providing information on what they should do following the flooding e.g. insurance information, any funding that is available, banking information, etc. A plan of how to support these businesses further will be pulled together following these visits.

The post flooding clean-up continues across the region. Skips have been provided in towns across to assist properties dispose of any damaged items. Teams will also be out to collect the sandbags and gel packs that were issued during the flooding (once these items have been used, they becoming condemned, so homeowners should not hold on to these items). The streets have been cleaned of silt and debris so that they could open again. This clean-up with now move to parks.

A number of bridges were closed across the region. These bridges remained closed over New Year. They were not allowed to open again until engineers could carry out inspections and make sure they were safe. A number of bridges around the Newton Stewart area remain closed until after these inspections can be carried out.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said, ““Communities across our region were badly hit as result of Storm Frank. However, members of the Major Emergency Team including the council, fire service, police and coastguard worked round the clock to support communities, from putting in place road closures to keep people safe to ensuring that our most vulnerable residents were looked after and received the care they needed, including evacuating hundreds of people from their homes and ensuring there were rest centres available for them. This was a massive operation in appalling conditions that really did stretch all agencies.

“We also have 57 community resilience plans in place in many towns and villages across the region and because of this we were able to communicate with local communities so they could prepare as best they could when the stom hit the region. There is no doubt that local communities rose to the challenge they faced - helping neighbours and looking after each other which shows the strong community spirit we have here in Dumfries and Galloway.

“However, now the flood water has largely dispersed, attention has now turned to the recovery operation. We have teams of Business Advisers out and about supporting as best we can those businesses who were so badly affected by the flooding. Our region’s businesses continue to provide services throughout this difficult time. I would like to encourage the public to support their local shop owners. The massive clean up of roads and play parks is also continuing. In the longer term we hope the Scottish Government will ensure funding is provided to put in place proper flood protection schemes in areas such as Newton Stewart. There is also real uncertainly over what, if any, additional financial support the council, businesses and homeowneres will receive from the Scottish Government to deal with the huge cost of the flooding and we will be stepping up the pressure to ensure we get answers”.