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.

 

New Aldi Store for Dumfries

Supermarket group ALDI have been given the go-ahead to open a second store in the town.

 

The council approved an application for a new store to be built on the former site of the Dumfries & Galloway Standard on Maxwell Industrial Estate.

 

Up to 35 jobs could be created when the store opens it's doors next year.  The new store is planned to be 25% larger that  the groups current store at 1600sq m with over 100 car parking spaces. 

Tourism Numbers Boost for Region

The latest annual tourism trend report for Dumfries and Galloway shows an encouraging increase in visitor numbers and tourism spend.

The figures show an economic impact of £302.6 million from visitor spend in Dumfries and Galloway, the first time the region has achieved over £300 million.

Visitor numbers for the region rose by 1.8% in 2014 to 2,429,000 while tourists spent 4.2% more over the period. Due to the significant impact from Gretna and Gretna Green, separate figures show an impressive 4% increase in visitors and 8.7% increase in visitor spend.

Employment in the tourism sector of the region has also shown modest increase of 0.5% with an additional 35 direct and indirect jobs created during the year.

The figures are released by Global Tourism Solutions who produce the Scottish Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM) report on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Councillor Colin Smyth, chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee said:

“Tourism is a key sector to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway and this report shows encouraging signs that the industry is continuing to grow in the region, despite there still being a challenging economic climate. Our Council is committed to supporting the local economy and by working together, the region’s tourism businesses can capitalise on our fantastic assets and encourage more visitors to experience what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer.”

M&S Energy and energyshare team up on £400,000 prize fund for community energy projects across the UK

M&S Energy and energyshare have partnered to launch an innovative competition to help community energy groups across the UK achieve their sustainable energy ambitions.

Any not for profit organisation which wants to use renewable energy for community benefit, can apply for up to a £400,000 prize fund whether a community energy group, a sports club, a school or simply an organisation which wants to have a positive impact on the environment.

Following the initial application and shortlisting, the winners will be decided by public vote, enabling local communities to vote on the project they believe offers the greatest benefit to them. There are estimated to be over 5,000 community energy groups currently active in the UK, with over 700 launching every year since 2008.

Announced yesterday at the M&S Plan A 2020 Stakeholder event in London, the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund will offer community energy groups a total prize pot of up to £400,000 divided as follows:

1. Two national prizes of £40,000 and £20,000

2. Regional funding awards for projects across Great Britain that require a maximum of £12,500

3. A Judge’s Prize of £15,000 for the most innovative or inspiring project

'This is a pioneering initiative and we look forward to working with energyshare to make a real difference to community energy projects. The M&S Community Energy Fund will enable a wide range of groups to get their projects off the ground and we’re looking forward to hearing about innovative projects that will benefit local communities across the UK.”, said Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S Energy.

"We are delighted to announce this partnership with M&S Energy," said Rob Love, Executive Director of energyshare. "We know this funding could be transformative for many community energy groups across the UK."

"It's fantastic to see such innovation in community energy coming out of Cornwall thanks to energyshare," said Cllr Julian German, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture. "Cornwall's pilot project, energyfund Cornwall was very successful and we welcome this much needed national initiative from M&S Energy. We will be encouraging all our Cornish community energy groups to get involved."

Applications are now open and will close on Wednesday 29th July 2015. The judging panel, made up of renewable energy experts from M&S Energy and SSE, will then agree a shortlist ahead of the final public vote, which opens on Monday 17th August and closes on Wednesday 30th September.

The judges will be considering entries based upon their social and environmental impact and will be scored against a variety of criteria, including:

• A clear business case that gives value for money

• An engaged and supportive community

• A measurable community benefit

In addition to the public vote, there will be one Judges’ Prize for the most innovative or inspiring project, whether in the technology being used or in the group’s approach to the renewable energy challenge.

Full details on how to enter are available at www.mandsenergyfund.com 

‘Alarming’ Inequalities for Women

More women could be pushed into poverty and disproportionately affected by social security reforms if the UK Government cuts £12 billion from its welfare budget, Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess has said.

Commenting on the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee’s Women and Social Security report Mrs Burgess expressed her fears that the UK Government’s emergency budget would only deepen the gender inequalities highlighted in the findings.

The report backed Scottish Government recommendations on payment flexibilities under Universal Credit and it also highlighted the need for gender impacts to be factored into any policy decisions.

To coincide with the report Mrs Burgess will meet women at One Parent Families Scotland in Glasgow where she will hear their views on how the Scottish Government can create a Fairer Scotland. This comes on the same day as Barnardo’s Scotland and the Scottish Government joined forces to call a halt to proposed cuts.

Mrs Burgess said: “It is alarming to see that women have been disproportionately affected by the UK Government’s benefits cuts and are twice as dependent on social security than men. I am deeply concerned that the UK Government’s £12 billion cuts will only widen this gap.

“With our new powers we will create a fairer and simpler social security system that aims to tackle gender and other inequalities. However we need to know how the UK Government’s cost cutting will affect benefits that are to be devolved.

“Organisations like One Parent Families Scotland and Barnardo’s Scotland see the effects of social security changes on the groups the report highlights as being particularly vulnerable, on a day to day basis, and are rightly concerned about the devastating impact further cuts could have on children.

“We welcome the Committee’s recommendations over Universal Credit and sanctions, and we will continue to do all we can to break down the barriers that prevent women from entering into work.

“Over the next few months we’ll be listening to the people affected by the UK Government’s welfare changes and cuts and, will be making sure we get the views of women on how we can create a system that suits their needs.

“Despite challenges from the UK Government we are tackling poverty head on. Our new Independent Adviser on Poverty and Inequality will be looking at what more we can do to lift people out of poverty, we have invested £296 million in welfare mitigation measures, extended our childcare and are encouraging employers to pay the Living Wage.”

A Dram of Recognition

Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead has today (Sunday) said there is now a great opportunity for Scotland’s iconic whisky regions to be recognised as world heritage sites, following the announcement that the French region of Champagne has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

He said the industry and its stakeholders – including the Scottish Government – should seize this opportunity to learn from the steps taken by Champagne, and the producers in the region, that will enable Scotland to have its six popular whisky regions to receive the same level of recognition.

Mr Lochhead said:

“This is excellent news for Champagne, and rightfully deserved – and I now hope this could open up a golden opportunity for Scotland’s many whisky-producing regions.

“The Scotch whisky industry is iconic and world-famous, steeped in tradition and craft. It’s now time for the industry and public sector to investigate the Champagne region’s success and see what we can learn from it, for the benefit of Scotland.

“Champagne is an iconic product, recognised the world over – Scotch whisky is just as iconic, if not more. This is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink – there is no better time than now to push forward and work towards our whisky-producing regions receiving the same level of recognition from UNESCO as Champagne and Burgundy in France.”

Scotland has six whisky regions: Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, Highlands, Islands and Lowlands.