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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.

 

Skills for Work, Work for a Better Future.

During Challenge Poverty Week (17–23 October), and for as long as is needed, Dumfries and Galloway Council will continue to address the need to get people in the region into employment, raising their skillset, and addressing Anti-Poverty issues resulting from low income employment.

The Council’s Community Learning and Development (CLD) team in Nithsdale is working in partnership with the Employability and Skills Service to support unemployed and underemployed individuals and have established work clubs at two centres in the region: the North West Resource Centre and Kirkconnel Resource Base.

The Work Club initiative came originally from Job Centre Plus. A range of organisations were contacted in late 2010 and invited to set up Work Clubs in line with their ethos and capacity. Within Nithsdale, CLD already offer a number of services that meet the Work Club criteria – help with CV’s and application forms, interview skills, public internet access for job hunting, assistance with the electronic application process and providing volunteering opportunities.  Work Clubs are a less structured more informal equivalent to the old style “Job Club”.
Work Clubs can come in all shapes and sizes, but they essentially provide unemployed people with a place to meet, exchange skills, share experiences, find opportunities, make contacts and get support to help them in their return to work. No two Work Clubs will be the same as they reflect local requirements. 

Each Work Club operates in a distinct way according to the needs of the community it supports.The support delivered at the centres provides people with training and practical help, which in turn increases their computer skills, enabling them to look for employment and apply for jobs online. Through the process of job searching over the internet, people’s computer skills are increased, providing extra abilities to add to their CV’s. By providing people with new skills they are empowered and feel more in control of their own future, achieving a new level of self-confidence through learning new abilities and aptitudes, which will hopefully enable them to find better employment than perhaps was previously possible.

Since their set up in 2011, an average of 6-8 individuals per week have accessed the service. Work Clubs provide a valuable resource for the many job seekers who do not have internet access at home or lack skills and confidence to be able to fully utilise IT.  A number of individuals have been encouraged to join courses offered by CLD such as First Steps in Digital Literacies to specifically improve their IT skills.  

In addition to ensuring that jobseekers are able to carry out vacancy searches successfully this also meets one of the requirements of the job centre, ensuring that those hunting for jobs meet their weekly quota of job searches and applications. This in turn prevents them from being subjected to benefits sanctions and has the added bonus of the free public access at the centres being well utilised. The team onsite are able to support individuals on request and all staff are familiar with the new Universal Job Match requirements and are able to guide beginners through the process.

Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “Dumfries and Galloway Council is fully committed to improving the level of skill within our communities and workforce. It is part of our remit to raise ambition and attainment to address inequalities within our region. By providing people with the skills they require to find sustainable employment we are helping to ensure a better future for people and their families by providing the best employment opportunities possible. Anecdotally a number of job seekers have returned to the service and advised us they have found employment and it is great to hear that work clubs are taking on a community spirit. Pooling local knowledge and resources is a great way to help people into work.”

“Through increased employability, we are assisting people out of poverty and enabling them have a better quality of life. With better employment opportunities and a higher skilled workforce within the region we will increase the chances for people to find suitable and better paid jobs in order to increase their self-esteem and support their families.”   

There are work clubs at:

North West Resource Centre
College Drive
Lincluden
Dumfries
DG2 0BX
Every  Thursday  10am – 12 noon

Kirkconnel Resource Base
37A Main Street
Kirkconnel
DG4 6NB 
Every Wednesday 1:30pm – 3:30pm

MSP says Ofgem revelation raises more questions for controversial pylons project

The controversial pylons plans for Dumfries and Galloway may be put out to tender – despite Scottish Power Energy Networks starting a consultation on the project.


The revelation came in a letter from Kersti Berge, Head of the energy regulator Ofgem in Scotland to MSP Joan McAlpine, who has been supporting constituents affected by the plans.

 

Ms McAlpine said:


“Many of my constituents will be surprised at this revelation from Ofgem given the consultation by SPEN.

“Affected residents will want to know if tendering could drive down the cost of the upgrade, therefore resulting in an even worse development than the proposal they are currently opposed to.


“On the other hand, if Ofgem can invite tenders for lines to be undergrounded and less obtrusive it could be a positive development.”

In her letter, Ms Berge says certain transmission investments could be subject to competitive tendering - a move confirmed by Ofgem at UK level on Monday. 


Ms Berge wrote: 


“We will consult on whether to tender the proposed Dumfries and Galloway strategic reinforcement project after we consider the needs case to be submitted by Scottish Power Energy Networks.”


She goes on to explain that in any tendering for onshore transmission, Ofgem would expect bidders to present “innovative and cost effective proposals.”  The regulator would then “evaluate the cost of the bids alongside other factors.”


Ms McAlpine has written back to Ms Berge demanding that tenders for the Dumfries and Galloway project should take those affected by the development into consideration. This could mean undergrounding.


Ms McAlpine said she understood the need for an upgrade to the network as local residents and businesses require reliable grid connections and the current transmission line is both at capacity and between 50 and 80 years old.

But the MSP believes there are important questions to be asked about how and where any replacement network should be routed and what to do about visual impact.


Ms McAlpine said:


“Ultimately it is Ofgem who will decide whether the work is needed and how much can be spent on the upgrade. That should not just be about driving down costs.


She continued:

“Ofgem answers to the UK Government – including the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP.

“Will Mr Mundell represent the views of his constituents in Dumfriesshire and put pressure on Ofgem to provide funds to mitigate the visual impacts of the upgrade?”

LOCAL MSP CALLS ON CABINET SECRETARY TO PROTECT COMMUNITY SPORTS CLUBS WASTE AND WATER CHARGES EXEMPTION

Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Investment, Infrastructure and Cities, Keith Brown MSP, calling on him to reconsider the removal of exemption to waste and water charges for small sports clubs in the region.

Community sports clubs across Dumfries & Galloway will be hit with the charges due to a change in criteria for the Water and Sewerage Charges Exemption Scheme. From April 2016, any club with a full bar licence, operating a café, or retailing new or second hand merchandise will fail to meet the criteria needed for exemption.

 

Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:

“Small, amateur sports clubs play a major role in communities across our region. Many struggle year to year on restricted budgets, and rely heavily on the support and dedication of volunteers. It therefore doesn’t make any sense to stretch their finances even further by removing exemption to waste and water charges – charges which could potentially reach thousands of pounds each year. Bowling, golf, squash and other clubs in Dumfries & Galloway cannot afford to be let down by the Scottish Government on this, and so the Cabinet Secretary needs to seriously reconsider the changes in criteria.”

 

Community Amateur Sports Clubs will not be eligible for waste and water charges exemption where one or more of the following conditions are met;

  •          the club holds a permanent alcohol licence to sell alcohol at the premises.
  •          the premises is a charity shop or other premises used for the purposes of retailing new or second hand merchandise.
  •          the premises operates as a café which is open to the public and operated on a regular basis to generate income.  This excludes canteens that have been provided by the club to support its own volunteers.
  •          The organisation is a Local Authority or an Arms-Length External Organisation (ALEO) which organisations that can be used by councils to deliver services.

Source: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Business-Industry/waterindustryscot/watercharges/exemptionscheme

Element Power: Meet the Buyer

Element Power would like to invite businesses to attend a meet the buyer event, to learn more about contract opportunities that will be available from construction of the Twentyshilling Hill windfarm near Sanquhar and, if consented, the Windy Rig windfarm 18km north of St John’s Town of Dalry.

The event will provide an opportunity to meet the main contractor and Gregor Bryce, Element Power Construction Manager.

Twentyshilling Hill  windfarm has planning consent and is scheduled to commence construction in early 2016.  Windy Rig windfarm planning application was submitted to Dumfries and Galloway Council in May 2015.

Contract and Business Opportunities will include:

• Landscaping and tree works
• Plant and Machinery
• Drainage
• Plant Hire
• Geosynthetics and bank stabilisation
• Concrete
• Fencing
• Accommodation
• Catering
• Cleaning and Waste Management
• Security

The event will be held between 3pm and 8pm Thursday 19th November at the Nithsdale Hotel, 1 High Street, Sanquhar DG4 6DJ

To register for the event please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or for more information visit www.elpower.com or alternatively call us on Tel: 0131 240 1237

 

Plans to extend quarry life

The owners of a major Dumfriesshire quarry have applied to extend its lifespan for a further 24 years.

Broom Quarry is part of a 51 hectare (126 acres) site on a former Ministry of Defence complex between Powfoot and Annan.

Operators Hoddam Contracting estimated that the extraction area contained 2.2 million tonnes of sand and gravel.

Dumfries and Galloway Council planning officials have recommended that the plans are approved.