The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Cycling Dumfries' Big Bike Breakfast and Kidical Massive

Dumfries cyclists will be putting the town on the map this September with two events to raise the profile of cycling in the area. On Friday September 18th, local cyclists will be treated to a free breakfast in recognition of their role keeping the town moving, while on Saturday 19 September  it will be the turn of the younger pedallers as Dumfries joins campaigners from all around the world to celebrate family cycling - and International Talk Like a Pirate Day - with 'Kidical Massive', a mass bike ride for kids. 

Organisers Cycling Dumfries are repeating their annual Big Bike Breakfast outside the Council Offices on English Street from 7-9 am on Friday 18 September where commuting cyclists will have a chance to 'refuel' as well as talk to Councillors and officials about cycling conditions in the town. Supported by local businesses butchers JB Houston and The Little Bakery, as well as Morrison's supermarket, the cycling campaigners will be offering a free bacon roll (or vegetarian equivalent) and hot drink to anyone who turns up on a bike. Then on Saturday they will be joining Kidical Mass campaigners world-wide in organising a pirate-themed family friendly bike ride from Dock Park to Heathhall forest to ride on the cycle track.

Cycling Dumfries co-ordinator Sally Hinchcliffe said;"We've had an amazing success with our family bike rides this summer - with participants cycling a total of 892 miles altogether - and we didn't want the fun to stop, so when we heard about Kidical Massive we jumped at the chance to join the global celebration of kids on bikes. We're hoping to gather a record number of kids on bikes dressed as pirates - Dumfries won't know what's hit it. In combination with our third annual bike breakfast, we'll be showing the world what a cycling town Dumfries has become."

Fellow organiser Rosie Rutherford said;"We've had excellent support from local businesses this year for our bike breakfast so it should be our best ever. Riding bikes helps keep the town moving and free up parking spaces so it makes sense to encourage as many people as possible to cycle to work or school. It just goes to show that cycling benefits everyone, and we wanted to thank the town's cycle commuters with a hot breakfast. We hope the council will listen to what they have to say and can work to improve conditions even more for cycling in the town."

Wigtown Book Festival Delivered by an Army of Volunteers

Scotland’s Largest Rural Book Festival is Delivered by an Army of Volunteers

The story of the Wigtown Book Festival is made possible by the incredible dedication of its volunteers. Scotland’s largest and best rural Book Festival takes place between Friday 25 September and Sunday 4 October, and its packed programme of more than 200 individual events – including talks, music, theatre and film, over 10 days this autumn for all ages - will attract visitors to the beautiful Galloway town from all over the region, Scotland and further afield.

The organisation required to deliver the Festival requires detailed planning and fantastic imagination, and would not be possible without a dedicated army of more than 120 volunteers. Confirming Council funding of £32,500 for the Festival this year, Councillor Colin Smyth, the Council’s Events Champion said,
“Wigtown is as picturesque spot as you could possibly hope to find, and the Festival Programme this year is as full of treats and surprises as ever. It is a real pleasure to have met many of the volunteers who work so well with the Festival Trust to deliver the ten day celebration of books, the arts and Galloway. The volunteers clearly love the Festival and demonstrate how important it is to the local community, and that the Festival is of the community. It is amazing what can be achieved when the chemistry of an event works as well as the Wigtown Book Festival does.” Anne Barclay, Operational Director for the Festival said,
“For the 17 year in a row, the people of Wigtown and neighbouring areas come together to deliver one of Scotland’s leading cultural events. The festival contributes over £2m to the local economy annually and we couldn’t do it without the dedication and belief of the many people who continue to volunteer over the years. The Wigtown Book Festival is a platform to showcase the region’s cultural highlights – including its unrivalled food produce, the dark skies of Galloway, its heritage and stories – which is why so many feel invested in making it happen.”

A central Festival theme for 2015 is the relationship between the city and the country, which will be marked by special events, including a film season that runs the gamut from Cold Comfort Farm to Deliverance. The festival will also be celebrating Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink with an enhanced programme of culinary talks and activities. Festival events are selling very well and visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance.

Programme highlights this year include writers Leila Aboulela, Laura Barnett, Chris Brookmyre, Jenny Colgan, Caroline Criado-Perez, Gavin Francis, Janice Galloway, Mairi Hedderwick, Liz Lochhead, Val McDermid, Neel Mukherjee, Thomas Pakenham, Anthony Seldon, Malachy Tallack, Raymond Tallis and AN Wilson; EastEnders star Annette Badland; comedians Jon Holmes, Phill Jupitus and Hardeep Singh Kohli; politicians Alex Salmond and Vince Cable; broadcasters Frank Gardner, Bridget Kendall, Rev Richard Coles, John McKay, Mike Wooldridge, Marc Allum of the Antiques Roadshow and Gary Bell QC, star of BBC1’s The Legalizer; astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell; and legendary Corries folk musician Ronnie Browne. For full details of the Festival, go to

LEADER New Programme Announcement

Dumfries and Galloway LEADER are delighted to announce that they have successfully secured a further £5.595M of funding for investment into community projects across the region. Working in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Dumfries and Galloway LEADER team have produced a new Local Development Strategy which will guide the implementation of the new programme and allocation of these funds. Following a robust assessment process the strategy has now been approved by the Scottish Government who have also confirmed that Dumfries and Galloway will receive one of the highest allocations of LEADER funding in Scotland.

The new programme was officially launched in Whithorn on Saturday 12th September as part of Day of the Region, which is an annual region-wide celebration of community spirit facilitated and supported by the LEADER team. Festivities on what proved to be a memorable and enjoyable day were joined by Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, as well as members of the Local Action Group. Aileen McLeod,  said “LEADER is a hugely important way of supporting the development of communities and economic growth across rural Scotland. I am very pleased that Dumfries and Galloway LEADER have been awarded £5.595 million for the next round of community projects. I would like to congratulate Dumfries and Galloway on being the first part of Scotland to launch their new LEADER programme and I look forward to seeing it build on the success of previous initiatives, such as Day of the Region and Capacity for Change, as they implement their Local Development Strategy over the next five years.

”LEADER in Dumfries and Galloway has been supporting rural communities for over 20 years and during that time has awarded over £10.5M in grants to 208 projects spanning the length and breadth of the region. This latest injection of cash for the 2014-2020 programme marks the beginning of a very exciting time in rural development for Dumfries and Galloway, and will allow the LEADER team to help more community groups and businesses develop and deliver projects than ever before.

Implementation of the Local Development Strategy is carried out by a partnership of individuals, known as the LEADER Local Action Group, who are enlisted voluntarily based on their skills and experience in a wide range of areas. This presents an exciting opportunity for individuals to be involved in rural development on a local and regional level, contributing to what is already proven to be a successful mechanism for economic, social and environmental investment across Dumfries and Galloway. LEADER Programme Manager for Dumfries and Galloway, Nicola Hill stated “We are entering a very exciting time in rural development for Dumfries and Galloway. This allocation of funding presents us with a fantastic opportunity to support local groups, businesses and organisations in developing creative and innovative solutions to the challenges facing many of our small rural and coastal communities.” With the programme launch we are now able to receive initial expressions of interest from potential applicants to be submitted through an online form which can be found on the Scottish Rural Network website at:
Peter Ross, chair of interim Local Action Group hopes they, "Are inundated with ideas and projects from across the whole of the region."

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Colin Smyth said, “Building our local economy is the top priority for our Council and the LEADER Programme plays a big role in helping achieve that. Hundreds of local projects have benefited from previous LEADER programme funding over the past two decades and with the new programme now open for applications many others will now benefit, supporting communities the length and breadth of the region”If you would like to discuss this process or require more information on the LEADER Programme please contact the Programme Manager using the details below:
Nicola Hill
01387 260028
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Laing O'Rourke Upskilling Seminars

Laing O’Rourke is hosting free workshops for all local construction related businesses. The workshops aim to provide background, advice and training to businesses regardless of whether you are working on the DGRI New Hospital project. Each workshop will cover many different topics including Training plans and funding, Digital modelling, Community Engagement and Supplier road shows. So book in today and bring along your questions and ideas!

16th September 1pm – TAP and Business Gateway: What they are and what support they can provide to your business.

30th September 2015 – Training your teams: Advice and help on training your team and the funding and support available

14th October 1pm – Digital Engineering:  Introduction to Digital Engineering and BIM and their uses.

28th October 1pm – Behavioural Based Safety Part 2: Opportunity to undergo our Take 5 behavioural based training. Hosted by our HSE advisor.

11th November 1pm – Inspection Test Plans: What a QITP is, why we have them, what is involved in creating one and how it should be implemented.

Please contact Laing O’Rourke on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book your place.

John Swinney to visit community cafe

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has pledged to pay a visit to local community café, the Usual Place.

The promise was made during a debate in the Scottish Parliament where SNP MSP Joan McAlpine highlighted the café,  run by Heather Hall and Linda Whitehall,  as an example of social enterprise promoting inclusive economic growth.

The café will work with the local college to train youngsters with additional support needs for a career in the hospitality industry.

Speaking during the debate, which centred on the success of the Scottish economy, Ms McAlpine said that Scotland has “a considerable track record as a world leader in social enterprise”,  with the sector contributing £1.15 billion to the economy, as well as playing a pivotal role in tackling social issues.

Commenting Ms McAlpine said:

“I am thrilled the Cabinet Secretary has pledged to visit the Usual Place.

“Heather and Linda have worked so hard to get this fantastic project off the ground – they are an inspiration.

“Their approach is indicative of the progressive nature of social enterprises, many of which work with the people who are furthest away from the labour market.

“This inclusive approach will ensure the social enterprise sector plays a pivotal role in promoting the Scottish government’s fair work agenda.”

Scotland’s Economic Strategy is underpinned by two mutually supportive goals of increasing competitiveness and tackling inequality.

Speaking during the debate, the Finance Secretary said that “the Usual Place illustrates perfectly the point that the Government is making about the need for emphasis on inclusive growth in the Scottish economic strategy.”