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


Scotland’s first digital skills academy opens its doors

Scotland’s first digital skills academy has welcomed its initial intake of 15 students, who are due to graduate in January 2016.

Industry-led CodeClan has been created to help meet the immediate and short term need for skilled software developers in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s support has been drawn from the £6.6 million made available to Skills Development Scotland to drive forward the implementation of the ICT and Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan (SIP).

Speaking at the launch, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“I’m delighted to be here at CodeClan today and to meet the first intake of students. They are already learning the skills that will help them embrace the wide-ranging and vibrant career opportunities the digital sector has to offer.

“The digital and ICT sector is very important to Scotland. It contributes over £4 billion GVA to the economy. Estimates show there are over 84,000 people working in digital or IT jobs across the economy as a whole and this number is rising fast. Scotland needs an estimated 11,000 new digital / ICT workers each year to meet current and future demand in the sector and we need to take urgent action to close this gap.

“We know this challenge will not disappear overnight, but CodeClan is a strong step in the right direction. By providing a pool of job-ready talent, CodeClan will not only help businesses to achieve their full potential, but also help Scotland build its reputation as a global player in the digital economy.

“As the flagship action of the Skills Investment Plan, and with business driving its design and offering, we welcome CodeClan’s potential to help meet the immediate need for software developers across Scotland, support for young people in becoming work ready and to play a part in the growth of both the digital / IT sector and the wider economy.”

Harvey Wheaton, CodeClan CEO said:

“We are at the start of an exciting journey and we are under no illusions about how tough the challenge is that we face. But everyone on the team here today – instructors, academy and students - are fully committed to delivering on our pledge. To create and feed the talent pool that will help grow Scotland’s digital sector and drive the economy.”

John F McClelland CBE, Chair of Skills Development Scotland, said:

“The launch of CodeClan is an exciting one for Scotland’s vibrant digital sector and for the very first group of students to begin their training. Through the academy, they will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and learn the skills required to work in a growing digital sector.

“This launch also follows the announcement of the Digital World campaign that aims to showcase the range of careers available in the sector. As someone who has worked in the IT industry for a number of years, I am aware of the many exciting and rewarding jobs and it is important that we get that message across to a wider audience.

“The CodeClan graduates will become part of that dynamic industry and will also help to meet pressing skills shortages within the sector and help safeguard future growth.”

DGCharity Cash for Kids Raises £2150

Monday October 5th saw the 2015 DGChamber Annula Business Lunch take place at the Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries.

The event, one of 23 that took place during DGBusiness Week was attended by 262 business people from accross the country who met and mingles at the biggest networking event in the DGChamber year.

This year DGChamber named Westsound Cash for Kids as the DGChamber Charity for 2015/2016, at the lunch the annual charity fundraising raffle had 4 amazing prizes donated by local and national businesses; Easterbrook Hall, The Original You Company, Harper Stairmand and BT Sport.


Professor Craig Mahoney joined Westsound Cash for Kids Charity Manager Tommy Jardine to find the 4 lucky winners. The raffle raised an amazing £2150.

TJ said "It's an amazing amount of money and just shows the generosity of the business community in Dumfries & Galloway."



Eardley International Transport expands with assistance from the CX Project

Ecclefechan has been an important resting point for weary travellers for over 200 years, since coach and horses ruled the road. Eardley International continues this tradition by providing a high quality rest stop, café, truck wash and change-over point for professional drivers and, indeed, all road users. Being located just off the M74 at Junction 19, the site is ideally located for a quick stop or overnight stay, and due to a recent expansion, now has space for 120 vehicles.

Graham Eardley said, “I have been in the transport business since 1997, first with livestock haulage and now with refrigerated transport. We purchased this site in 2004 and have developed it gradually since then. The latest section opened in February this year and trebled the number of lorries we can host. The 24 hour truck wash can deal with over 250 lorries a week. We also rent out a commercial garage and office space to related businesses. Our cafe, The 'Fechan Diner, is very popular with the drivers and we are proud of the quality of the food which is all freshly prepared using local Ingredients. The cafe is open to everyone and I would like to encourage more locals to pop in and give it a try.”

Mhairi Eardley said, “When we were looking to expand the space for commercial vehicles, the CX Project gave us excellent advice and assistance. The business plan we had to write to receive the grant has been of great value in helping us progress and will guide us in years to come. The grant was really useful in sorting out the site infrastructure before the concrete for the lorries was laid. The expansion has been so successful that we are already looking at further development. We would also like to install some renewable forms of energy at the site. If anyone else is planning to expand I would recommend them to ask for objective advice from someone outside their business such as the CX Project.”

Colin Smyth, Chairman of Dumfries and Galloway Council's Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, said, “This is a good use of land which was unsuitable for agricultural use, and situated close to the motorway. Graham and Mhairi Eardley have shown great entrepreneurial skills in creating local jobs and attracting customers from around the UK. Building the local economy is our Council's number one priority, including supporting small and medium sized businesses to grow, so I am pleased to see Eardley International's recent expansion.”

John Grierson is the Site Manager for Magnox at Chapelcross. He said, “The CX Project is about encouraging Annandale and Eskdale businesses to expand and provide new jobs, so Graham and Mhairi's venture is precisely the kind we would look to support. Eardley International has benefitted not only from the grant, but equally from the business planning advice which is one of the keys to unlocking business growth.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Investment in Major Events to Continue

Dumfries and Galloway Council is to continue to invest fully in major festivals and events in 2016 and 2017.

The Local Authority’s Major Events Strategic Fund is now open for applications, on a competitive basis, for major events that take place in the region or that wish to relocate to Dumfries and Galloway.

Funding has already been ring-fenced up to and including 2017 for three of the region’s most prestigious and high profile events –Spring Fling, Big Burns Supper and the Arts Festival. The long term financial security these events are now establishing is a foundation of their artistic success. The Council is also investing in the 2016 Tour of Britain, which will visit the area in September 2016 and will provide funding of £32,500 to the Wigtown Book Festival next year – an exceptional showcase for literature, the arts and Galloway culture.

Councillor Colin Smyth, the Local Authority’s Events Champion said, “We recently announced that major events are worth in excess of £10m of net additional economic value to the region each year, and add greatly to our quality of life. That’s why our Council is to continue to invest in a range of events projects next year, through a mixture of confirmed funding to a range of our most significant ‘signature’ events and on a competitive basis via our Strategic Fund.

We have had an exceptional September, with superb festival programmes in Wigtown and at the Lockerbie Jazz Festival, and thousands of people enjoying the timeless charm of the International Sheep Dog Trials that was held between Dumfries and Moffat in the middle of last month. Our sustained, targeted investment in the best events projects can ensure many more memorable events in the future and opportunities for local businesses to benefit from the visitors encouraged to visit our region.”

VisitScotland Regional Director Paula McDonald said, “The extensive range of first-class events and festivals which take place in Dumfries & Galloway is a fantastic tourism asset. It is an extremely important way of attracting visitors to the region and showcasing our wonderful scenery, amazing attractions, rich heritage and wealth of things there are to see and do here. Continued investment in the region’s vibrant programme of diverse, engaging events and festivals is absolutely vital - not only to the continued success of our tourism industry but to the strength of our local economy.

This funding by the Council - as well as funding in our region’s events and festivals by our Events Directorate - will ensure that we build on the fantastic successes and superb return on investment which we’ve seen delivered during 2015. We are extremely well placed to look forward to another exciting and rewarding year ahead in 2016, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

Education Scotland praises Council

The Council’s Education Committee  will consider a report that includes examples of good practice and high performance.

The Director’s end of year assessment of business plan performance for Education Services shows that:
• Standardised assessment results for literacy and numeracy in primary schools continue to increase
• Early indications of senior phase exam results are very positive with a rise in attainment areas that are directly compatible with previous years.
• There is an increase in 6 out of 7 measures for S5/S6 Highers and Advanced Highers on a 5 year trend.
• The number if National 4 and 5 presentations has increased significantly with results similar to 2014.

Education Scotland published the validated self-evaluation for Dumfries and Galloway Council Education Services in June 2015. Education Scotland’s report stated that the planning and approach to the evaluation by senior officers was of a very high quality. HM Inspectors stated that the process that was designed and put in place aligned very effectively with the Single Outcome Agreement and the business planning cycle. As a result of the assessment, inspectors found:
• Very strong and highly effective leadership demonstrated by the director, heads of service, and senior officers
• A clear vision for education has been very effectively articulated and is shared by review teams, building capacity in staff to deliver the very best outcomes for learners
• A robust and rigorous quality improvement framework with highly effective self-evaluation processes in place
• A clear focus on building staff skills to improve learning and teaching, raise attainment and develop strong leadership skills
• Robust sources of data at broad general education and senior phases, providing the education authority with the ability to carry out precise analysis and scrutiny of performance at authority, school, and individual pupil levels.

Councillor Jeff Leaver, chairman of the Education committee, said, “Providing the best start in life for all our children is a priority for our Council. I’ve very pleased with the progress being made in education in our region. We are showing sustained improvement over time. I’d like to thank all of the staff, pupils and parents who have contributed to this.”

The whole report is available at:
Agenda item 5