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



South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged people to continue to ‘think local’ as more shops across the region re-open.

When Covid-19 measures hit earlier in the year, many people turned to local firms to provide essentials during lockdown. Many small businesses really stepped up to the mark and made huge efforts to ensure customers had the food and other items they needed.

However, as many non-essential shops across the south of Scotland re-open today (Monday), Colin Smyth is urging people to continue to support the local businesses they turned to during lockdown and remember that many small firms in the region provide amazing local produce.


Colin Smyth said: “As we move another step out of lockdown and we see many shops across the area opening their doors, I would urge everyone to continue to think local and buy from the small firms who went above and beyond for their customers during the pandemic.

“We saw many small businesses and shops stepping up to the mark during lockdown, by changing the way they worked and providing people with the essentials that they desperately needed. Now that many stores are physically opening their doors again and things are returning to a ‘new normal’, I would hope that local people remember to support those in their local area.

“We have so many amazing small businesses who provide all kinds of services and products and I would hope everyone continues to buy from them as we move out of lockdown.”

The local MSP is also urging the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as local councils, to rebuild the region’s high streets and ensure they are at the heart of the community as the area moves out of lock down including banning ATM charges, stopping bank branch and Post Office closures, more flexibility for cafes and pubs considering expanding outside eating and drinking areas in front of their premises and a South of Scotland ‘Think local’ campaign to urge people to shop locally. 

Colin Smyth added: “This pandemic started out as a health crisis, but it has also turned into an economic crisis too, especially for rural areas. Many shops in the south of Scotland are facing an uncertain future and it is more important than ever that we support them as much as we can.”

Mundell's Comment on Browns Proposed Job Losses

Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell have issued the following statements on the proposed 63 jobs losses at the Brown Food Group factory at Kelloholm in Upper Nithsdale.


Oliver and David Mundell

Oliver Mundell, MSP, said: "This will be extremely worrying news for those impacted and their families. 


"Browns have been an important and reliable employer in Upper Nithsdale and it is a real disappointment that they have had to adjust their business in this way. 

 "Hopefully we will see things start to pick up again but there is no doubt we are in the midst of a challenging time for the local and national economy. 

 "We stand ready to help all those affected in any way we can and would encourage anyone facing difficulties to get in touch." 


David Mundell, MP, said:  "My thoughts are with all those whose jobs are at risk at the Brown Food Group site at Kelloholm together with their families.


"The company has been a godsend to Upper Nithsdale in recent years as they have grown their business and it is unfortunate that due to the current global pandemic they are faced with extremely difficult market conditions.

"Every available source of support, including from the new South of Scotland enterprise agency, must be focused on safeguarding the remaining jobs.

"This is a company with a reputation for quality products and a good workforce.  My firm hope is that as the world emerges from the Covid-19 crisis the Kelloholm plant can recover previous market and production levels.

They will have my full support."

DGCouncil Issue Statement on Browns Consultation

Following reports regarding Browns Food Group announcement of a consultation with employee, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson, and Vice Chair Archie Dryburgh, have released the following statement:


Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson said: “The announcement from Browns Food Group to consult on potential redundancies is worrying news for our region and for other the other areas where they have based their businesses.   Browns are a big employer in our region, and I know it will be a worrying time for their workforce.

 It is clear that Browns have done all that they can to get through this difficult period but are now suffering from the knock-on effects of reduced trading of their customers.

  We recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a significant impact on our local economy and businesses would be greatly affected, and we have been working to support local businesses, and continue to do this.  We will do all that we can to help Browns and their staff, working with our partners at South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) to provide support for any staff who may be affected.”

 Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “We are committed to finding a resolution to this situation and will do what we can to help Browns through this. Our immediate thoughts are with those who may be affected, the workforce and their families.

 We know that Browns employees remain a dedicated workforce and we will do all that we can to either help the business emerge from the current difficulties, or as a worst-case scenario, help Browns’ workers find alternative suitable employment.

 We realise that more of our regions companies and their staff will undoubtedly be affected by the impact of this pandemic, but please be reassured that this Council and our partners will do all we can to help and support them.”

Jobs At Risk, Brown Brothers Puts Staff On Consultation Notice

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is calling for “no stone to be left unturned to stop job losses” at the Brown Brothers plant in Kelloholm, after the firm announced they had begun formal consultation with employees over redundancies.

The meat-processing firm has seen a downturn during the coronavirus pandemic, which led to staff being furloughed under the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme. As the scheme begins to be phased out, the company have announced they are considering cutting jobs at the plant.


Colin Smyth is now urging the UK, Scottish Government along with the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to work together to try to avoid job cuts.

Colin Smyth said, “This is really devastating news for the staff that could be affected by job cuts and my thoughts are very much with them and their families”.

“It was always my fear that when the UK Government began ending the job retention scheme, that many staff who had been furloughed by the companies in the region would be made redundant. That’s why I have been calling for the scheme to be extended to give companies time to adapt and rebuild. Sadly that hasn’t happened and we are seeing the consequences”.

“We now need both Governments and the new Enterprise Agency to come together to provide what support they can. No stone should be left unturned to stop these job losses. This is a company that has consistently grown since they were established in the area and the fact they are resorting to possible job cuts highlights the scale of the economic tsunami hitting our region”.

“Upper Nithsdale already suffers from higher than average levels of unemployment and those numbers have doubled in recent weeks. More job cuts is the last thing the area needs”.

MSP and MP welcome SNP ministers' rethink on full-time education

A CHANGE of heart by the Scottish Government in which they have agreed to consider full-time education when schools reopen in August has been welcomed by Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell and MP David Mundell


They had earlier called on Holyrood Ministers to think again over proposals for pupils to attend school only on a part-time basis with the rest of their learning carried out at home.


Until now local authorities were preparing to split the school week with only half of pupils attending at any one time.


The local parliamentarians last week took up the issue on behalf of parents in their constituencies concerned about the impact the greatly reduced in-school week would have on their children's education and prospects.


Parents also warned of the logistical nightmare they would face if they were unable to fulfil work commitments after the lockdown in order to care for their children at home.


Constituency representative Oliver Mundell said: "This is positive news. There were serious worries about the longer term impact on children returning on a part-time basis after such a long time away from school.


"Getting into a regular educational routine will help them in their everyday life and make up for lost time at school.


"It will also make a huge difference to parents, some of whom would face difficulties with childcare as they return to a more normal work routine as the lockdown is scaled back."


Speaking from Westminster, David Mundell hailed the reversal announced on Tuesday by Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney as the best decision for children, their parents and the economy.


He said: "I'm pleased the Scottish Government has finally responded to pressure and that the proposed review will look at full-time education whilst still including stringent measures to safeguard the health of pupils.


"Fortunately there seems to have been some progress in suppressing coronavirus and relaxing the two-metres rule, an option under consideration, seems a logical and sensible way forward."