The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Ronnie Nicholson Resigns from Local Labour Group

Long time Labour Councillor Ronnie Nicholson has announced his decision to resign from the Labour Group of Dumfries and Galloway Council,



"This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make but in all conscience I could not support a proposed SNP Labour budget which made such draconian cuts in teachers.

Given the reduction in funding from the Scottish Government, the council has an impossible task to make over £15m of savings without impacting negatively on services. But the decision to axe at least 40 teaching posts is a cut too far and one that is avoidable. The budget proposes over £500,000 of spending on new proposals such as a Community Initiative Fund and the council also propose to increase the reserves held.

I wanted to suggest that we used this money to retain teaching posts instead but I was prevented from even making this suggestion at the last Labour Group meeting before the budget. After decades as a Labour Party member, I simply cannot be involved in a decision that will damage ours kids education locally, therefore regrettably I had no choice but to resign from the Labour Group"

Training and IT grants to help you prepare for Brexit

The UK Government has released £5 million funding for training and IT improvements to help UK businesses complete customs declarations to trade with EU member countries - deal or no deal.

Processes and software for submitting customs declarations are both changing at the end of March, regardless of Brexit outcome. A new Customs Declaration Service will replace the existing CHIEF service.

According to the Institute for Government report, there are 180,000 UK businesses trading goods between the UK and the EU who will need to complete customs declarations for the first time.

Read more on what you need to know about the Customs Declaration Service

Looking beyond the EU

The EU will remain a vitally important market for Scottish businesses after Brexit. In addition, businesses should also consider market opportunities outside the EU to help strengthen future growth and meet demand.

With growing interest in quality goods from Scotland around the world, knowledge of customs procedures and documentation will be a necessity if your company is looking to seize those opportunities.

Grants to improve your software

Businesses can apply for IT grants up to the maximum amount of state aid (€200,000)

To apply for the IT improvements grant, your business must:

  • Currently complete customs declarations for importers and exporters
  • Have 250 employees or fewer
  • Have an annual turnover of less than €50 million

Funding can only be used to buy software that will help your business to complete customs declarations more efficiently. It must be a ready-made solution - you cannot use the funding to commission bespoke software.

You can also use the funding to:

  • Buy hardware that’s needed for the software to run
  • Install and configure the software and hardware
  • Buy the first-year licence
  • Train employees to use the software

You cannot use the funding for unrelated networking costs.

Applications are managed PwC for HMRC.

Read full terms and conditions before applying

We suggest you register early. Closing date for applications is 5 April 2019 – or sooner depending on demand.

Register online via PwC

BREXIT - Import & Export Training

Ensure your staff are trained on the latest legislation. To help with this, you can apply for a training grant to attend the Institute of Export’s one-day training course on Customs Procedures and Documentation.

This course will be available in Glasgow and Edinburgh in the coming weeks and months. It will cover everything that you’ll need to know to enable goods to be imported and exported after Brexit. It also looks at the differences between EU and non-EU trade.

Upcoming dates

  • Edinburgh – 25 February, 4 March, 20 March
  • Glasgow – 14 February, 25 February, 7 March, 19 March


Delays, fines and inspections are things that no company wants to endure. This course will equip you with the right information to be able to understand what’s required to comply with customs. And, should at any time an audit be required, you’ll be prepared.


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has congratulated the Moniaive Initiative for its success in receiving a share of a Scottish Government fund to support community ownership.



The Initiative has been awarded £56,691 in the latest round of Scottish Land Fund awards, with £700k supporting communities to buy land and buildings.

A commercial unit on Moniaive High Street will be purchased and converted into a charity shop, information point, office space and multi-purpose accommodation for a variety of local clubs and organisations.

The Scottish Land Fund, funded by the Scottish Government, provides grants of up to £1 million as well as practical support to encourage community ownership.

Ms McAlpine has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament congratulating Moniaive.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I am delighted that Moniaive has been successful in their application, with the whole community now set to benefit from this investment.  It comes shortly after the land fund offer to the Midsteeple Quarter community project to transform Dumfries High Street.  A few years ago the people of Lochmaben used money from the Scottish Land Fund to buy Castle Loch and the benefits have been extraordinary.

“Community ownership can transform the prospects of a local area, giving people a real stake in their future.  Land ownership in Scotland is more concentrated in a few private hands than anywhere else in Europe.  The Land Fund initiative by our government seeks to make that fairer by helping transfer land and property back into the hands of the people who live and work on it.

“I hope the success of Moniaive Initiative will encourage others in the South of Scotland to consider how community ownership could benefit them.”


South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) of the “ultimate insult” to staff and customers of recently closed bank branches after the Government owned bank announced that profits have more than doubled this year.



The company recorded profits last week of £1.6bn just weeks after the final closure of 60 branches in Scotland- including 15 that serve the South of Scotland.

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said, “The celebrations of RBS over the doubling of their profits and the decision to bump their Chief Executive’s pay up by £100,000 to £3.6m is the ultimate insult to the hundreds of staff and customers across the South of Scotland who have just lost their jobs and their local RBS bank branch”

“RBS is owned by the UK Government and I have consistently called on them and the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell to intervene to stop these closures. As RBS’s major shareholder the UK Government could and should have stopped these banks branches being axed and the huge profits RBS have made show how unnecessary these closures were.”

“The public put £45 billion into RBS to bail it out following the financial crisis, yet it seems only RBS’s boss and shareholders have seen the rewards of that investment with local people losing out as a result of the greed of bankers and the inaction of the UK Government.”