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.

 

MSP McALPINE HIGHLIGHTS THREAT TO SCOTLAND’S POWERS TO PROTECT JOBS AND INDUSTRY

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has highlighted a threat to the Scottish Government’s ability to protect industry and jobs from the Tory’s Brexit bill.

 

The SNP MSP raised the issue during a Ministerial Statement by the Minister for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Mike Russell in the Scottish Parliament last week.  She asked him what he thought the implications of the UK Government's Internal Market white paper would be for the Scottish Government's ability to protect strategic infrastructure,  jobs and industry here in Scotland.

Mr Russell’s response made it clear that he believes the Scottish Government’s powers to intervene with state aid were under threat from the Tory’s Brexit power grab.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“I raised the issue of the UK Government's intention to grab powers to set laws around state aid and asked him what he thought the consequences would be.

“Mr Russell said that having an effective state aid regime is essential and has played a role in the Scottish Government's industrial strategy and in developing and building buinesses in Scotland. He added that the reason it was devolved in the first place is because it should be carried out by those with a knowledge of the Scottish economy.

“We know from past experience that the UK Government cannot be trusted to run a subsidy system for companies that puts Scotland first. The crisis at the Pinney's factory in Annan revealed that the UK Government had subsidised a fish processing plant in Grimsby that took jobs away from Annan.

We also saw in the past how a UK Tory government allowed the Scottish steel industry to be run down, showing that they either don't know or don't care about many aspects of the Scottish economy.

“Recent examples of Scottish Government intervening to save infrastructure crucial to the Scottish economy include rescuing Prestwick Airport and the Ferguson shipyards from collapse. I don't have confidence that either would have been safe in the UK Government's hands nor do I believe that the Tories would prioritise Scottish companies if there were clashes of interests across the border.

“Mike Russell also warned that Dominic Cummings' plan could be to stop ANY government intervention whatsoever and that's a real concern. lt would leave the Scottish Government powerless to intervene to protect vital strategic industries and jobs here in Scotland.

“It’s clear that Scottish interests aren’t being served by the Tory government in Westminster so it’s very worrying indeed that they’re also removing Scotland’s ability to protect itself.”

IT Consultant Daniel Russell qualifies as a Cisco Certified Specialist

An IT Consultant from David Allen IT Solutions has recently qualified as a Linux Professional and Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate as well as passing his CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) Enterprise Core exam.

 

Sml_1.jpg

Daniel Russell, 27, has worked for David Allen IT Solutions for four years. Originally from Dumfries, Daniel began his career working for a Dumfries provider. When his family re-located to Gretna, Daniel began his career with David Allen.

To qualify as a Cisco Certified Specialist an individual has to demonstrate their knowledge of implementing core enterprise network technologies including dual stack architecture, virtualization, infrastructure, network assurance, security and automation.

Daniel said: “The business offers a great working environment and provides me with the ability to exert my knowledge and skills on implementing and developing new systems whether it be for internal use or for a client. It’s also a great team to work with.”

Daniel continued: “I am very passionate about self-development and like to learn new technologies. There are so many benefits from studying and learning about how different technologies work, particularly in IT which operates at a very fast pace. It is important to diversify your skillset and keep things at the front of your mind.”

Daniel has plans to further his knowledge by completing the Azure Technology qualifications as well as completing the CCNP Enterprise exam.

We understand the importance of investing in our employee’s education. Daniel’s new qualifications will allow him to carry out projects which continue to add value to our client’s businesses by introducing efficiency, reliability and stability.

We will continue to support and help Daniel achieve this by providing technical projects that he can use to develop his skillset and deliver valuable projects. In addition to this, the team will support Daniel with the client consultancy jobs he will be delivering in the times ahead.

DGChamber Welcomes New Funding for Tourism & Hospitality Sector in Scotland

Two new funding packages worth £15 million will support the tourism sector as it continues to feel the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A £14 million Hotel Recovery Programme will help to secure up to 3,000 jobs at Scotland’s larger hotels until the start of the summer 2021 tourism season. Eligible businesses can apply for individual grants of up to £250,000 in addition to a suite of wrap-around business support and advice.

The Programme will be jointly administered by the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies and builds on the existing funding and support for tourism businesses through the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Hardship Fund and the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.

VisitScotland will also deliver £1 million in grants to self-catering businesses that have not received any other Scottish Government COVID-19 support. Businesses that apply and meet the criteria will be eligible for a one-off £10,000 grant to support them through the winter season.

 

fergus-ewing

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“We recognise the important contribution the hotel sector makes to tourism and the wider Scottish economy, supporting approximately 46,000 jobs across the country. 

“Scotland is home to many of the world’s iconic hotels and they, like much of the sector, have suffered considerably this year from the impacts of coronavirus. The Hotel Recovery Programme is a dedicated funding package designed to safeguard jobs in these establishments and offer some security until the new tourist season begins in summer 2021.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to support the tourism industry, however without significant borrowing powers at our disposal this action will always be limited. Whilst we very much welcome measures taken by the UK Government, such as accepting our call to cut VAT rates for the tourism industry, longer-term support for jobs is necessary. I hope the UK Government responds positively to our ask for an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”

 

Kenny Bowie

Responding to the announcement by Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes MSP of two new funding packages to support the tourism & hospitality sector in Scotland, Kenny Bowie - DGChamber President, said:

“This will be very much welcomed by eligible hotels and self-caterers across Scotland who have faced struggles to access support funds previously. This new support will help to secure some jobs in the sector that have come under serious threat of being lost, for the time being.

“However, while this support will be appreciated by these businesses, concerns remain that ongoing costs coupled with low demand continue to place tourism and hospitality jobs at severe risk. Getting those sectors who support our bars, cafes and restaurants back to work in the safe environments they have created is critical if we are to save jobs and livelihoods.

“Further support and reliefs will be required in the future in order to secure the long term viability of the sector. We will continue to make this case and work alongside both the Scottish & UK Governments.’’

MSP Harper Welcomes Development Funding

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement of economic development funding for Dumfries & Galloway projects, as part of a £2.1 million cash injection for South of Scotland projects. 

 

1-a-1-a-emma-harper-msp-1024x612

The funding will support economic development in tourism, the business community and agricultural projects across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

In total, 28 projects will benefit from the funding through the new South of Scotland Economic agency (SoSE), supporting the region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and helping to generate future job opportunities.

Dumfries & Galloway projects include:

Crichton Central (£833,127) to redevelop an existing building (Criffel View) on the Crichton Campus in Dumfries to create a business incubation facility – the first of its kind in Dumfries - for small and micro businesses.   

Better Lives Partnership (£275,000) to increase its Bridge2Employment programme, which helps young people with autistic spectrum disorder to access supported learning opportunities and progress into work or further study.   

Boyd Group (£65,000) to assist business expansion at Cargenbridge Industrial Estate, Dumfries. 

Glenkens (£64,079) to create an interactive multi-media hub where young people, community groups and visitors can explore the area’s heritage, enhanced by digital technology; and help establish a range of business services that will generate income and sustain project activities going forward.   

Livestock Holding Facilities (£59,600) to establish a livestock holding facility that will allow a range of local farmers to house their beasts, prior to transportation and processing. This aims to encourage co-operation to reduce costs.

Castle Douglas Community Centre (£23,599) to develop a computing and sound production facility, expanding the provision of IT skills and employability programmes for young people and the self-employed. 

Wigtown Festival Company – a feasibility study funding of £20,000 to  look at the potential to deliver a greater range of activities and events throughout the year to boost income from tourists and local community groups.   

Sanquhar Post Office £20,000 for a feasibility study to explore the tourism potential of the property as well as assessing the possibility of the out buildings being used as business accommodation.   

Farm Innovation for Cows & Co (£20,000) for a study for consideration of a ‘waste to energy’ power plant in a quarry environment to reduce energy costs for farmers and generate innovative business diversification activities.

A Regional Food Chain study to consider the creation of a centralised hub in Castle Douglas, supporting all aspects of food and drink innovation to enable micro businesses to compete for new markets.

And an additional feasibility study funding of £20,000 for Alternative Land Use analysis of whether it is possible to grow a range of alternative crops including energy, pharmaceutical, forestry and industrial crops, as well as field scale vegetables and salad crops, in the South, which is currently dominated by traditional farming and forestry.

And finally, a feasibility study for Littleton Farm AD Plant to seek whether the creation of an on-farm industrial estate (“agri-park”), powered by a commercial scale anaerobic digestion plant, converting farm waste into energy.

Ms Harper commented;

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s economic development funding for these projects in our South West region which have received part of the £2.1 million awarded across the South of Scotland.

“These projects will ascertain how to best capitalise on our strengths in this part of the country and the funding will create jobs, support businesses, develop skills, boost tourism, all vitally needed in South West Scotland as we begin our economic recovery from COVID-19.

”I look forward to connecting with the persons behind the projects and following progress”.

MSP Harper Calls For 'Wedding Working Group'

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has written to the First Minister to request that the Scottish Government create a working group for venues who cater for weddings and civil ceremonies in Scotland.

This working group would be similar to the groups which were set up to allow faith groups and outdoor professional sports to return. This request comes following a number of constituent wedding venues and businesses contacting Ms Harper with their concerns as a route-map through and out of Covid19 is progressed for many businesses affected by coronavirus lockdown.

In the letter which communicates the feelings of her constituents, the South Scotland MSP has said that the creation of a weddings and civil ceremony working group will bring together people from across the sector to discuss examples of best practice, ideas and suggestions on how best to move forward as restrictions ease further. Ms Harper states that, more generally, the group would allow those directly involved in organising, hosting and arranging weddings and ceremonies to work directly with Government to help shape the necessary processes and guidelines which inform policy.

As part of Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route-map out of lockdown, weddings and civil ceremonies have been allowed to restart indoors at public venues, including registration offices, hospitality venues and places of worship as well as outdoors.

 

1-a-1-a-emma-harper-msp-1024x612

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

 

“I have written to the First Minister following requests from several constituent businesses across Dumfries & Galloway who specialise in hosting, arranging and planning weddings and civil ceremonies.

“These businesses have suggested that the Scottish Government set up a working group on weddings and civil ceremonies which would allow the businesses in the weddings sector to join – with government – to propose and share examples of the specific activities that could make weddings go ahead safely, and to input the suggestions so that future guidance and policy could be proposed.

“Those working in the sector are the experts on their particular experience, and it is important to hear directly from them.

“In my letter to the First Minister, I have also included a number of suggestions from local businesses – including from GG’s Yard near Gatehouse of Fleet – who have a capacity of 350 guests which will obviously have to be reduced because of social distancing. I have requested that the Scottish Government release indicative dates to the sector on when restrictions will be eased – dates which would, of course, be subject to medical and scientific advice.

“I look forward to hearing back from the First Minister and would encourage anyone to get in touch should they have any questions.”

Duncan McConchie, owner of GG’s Yard near Gatehouse of Fleet said;

“The Scottish Government have steered us through Covid-19 brilliantly. However, the wedding and events industry is now lacking any route map or guidance from government as to how our industry can open again.  This lack of clarity is leading to complete loss of faith from couples, to venues to suppliers and is resulting in massive financial loss for the industry which is worth over £40 million to Dumfries & Galloway”.