The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


MP Mundell welcomes farm funding boost

Substantial support, which should boost farming in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, has been warmly welcomed by local MP David Mundell.


David Mundell MP

The UK Government confirmed today in their Spending Review that £160 million of convergence money would be allocated to the agricultural industry north of the border.


Scottish Conservative MPs have pressed for the EU Multi-annual Financial Framework money, aimed at redistributing Common Agricultural (CAP) payments more equitably across the EU, be delivered to Scotland.


David Mundell explained that he had held discussions over a period with local farmers who had raised the issue.


He said: "This is good news for the agricultural sector in my area and I'm delighted that this funding will now be available for distribution.


"It should particularly help the upland areas of my constituency where sheep and other enterprises operate on large areas of scenic, but less productive, land."


Mr Mundell added that more viable farm enterprises, in turn, benefited the wider rural community.

MSP Smyth Has Role Expanded

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has been appointed as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Transport and Connectivity in Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard’s recent reshuffle this week.


The move means the local Labour MSP has had Rural Economy added to his existing responsibilities as Scottish Labour’s Spokesperson for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.

The new expanded role means Colin Smyth is Scottish Labour’s spokesperson foragriculture and crofting, fisheries and aquaculture, food and drink, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, rural Scotland, animal health, forestry, transport and public transport, infrastructure investment policy, cities and City and Region Growth Deals, town centres, connectivity including broadband and the islands.

Colin Smyth said, “Given the rural nature of my South Scotland region I am pleased to have the rural economy added to my existing spokesperson responsibilities covering transport, infrastructure and connectivity. Whether it is the need to fight for more investment in road, rail, buses and active travel, better broadband and mobile connectivity and support for the rural , the issues in my role are the issues constituents locally raise with me on a daily basis, so I fully intend to use my post to stand up for the South of Scotland”.

Customs Declaration Training

The Chamber of Commerce network has partnered with some of the leading industry experts to launch brand new Customs Declarations Training designed to prepare businesses and trade professionals for the future of trade.


The way we trade with the EU is about to change, introducing the need for forms and processes not previously required. Up-skilled people are the key to continued training success once the UK leaves the EU.

The Customs Declarations Training programme delivers flexible, bite-sized e-learning modules, classroom courses, and virtual classroom sessions.

This training is delivered through our colleagues at Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, 


Delegates: anyone who needs an understanding of Customs regimes and how to complete a Customs declaration form.

Grant funding: Applications for HMRC training funding has now closed.

Course pre-requisites: there are no pre-requisites for this course.

Course content is based on the following topics:

  • Introduction to Trade
  • Business Responsibilities
  • Export process
  • Import process
  • Valuation – explanation of the main methods and their application
  • Classification – determining the use of commodity codes
  • Using Customs Procedure Codes – use of appropriate
  • CPCs Export and import controls
  • Reliefs Preferences Customs simplified procedures – explanation of procedures and benefits

Assessment: no formal exam will be taken however delegates will get to complete simulated forms to ensure they can complete simple customs declarations correctly.

Course Options:

Face to face classroom courses* (full day classroom delivery):

  • Accredited Chamber members £280 + VAT
  • Non-members £350 + VAT

* Please note: Pricing includes additional complementary access to a 3-hour online training course.

Online e-learning

  • Accredited Chamber members £190 + VAT
  • Non-members £230 + VAT


South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that any failure to fully complete the remaining elements of the Dumfries Learning Town project at the same time during Phase 2 would be “utter betrayal of pupils, teachers and parents”.


The MSP was commenting ahead of a meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education and Learning committee on 5 September 2019, which will consider a report on the project.

The vague report update Councillors on “cost estimates” for the project and claims that the Scottish Government’s funding model for new investment in schools focuses on buildings assessed as being standard C and D. While Dumfries High School is in this condition, Dumfries Academy is not- raising fears that funding would not be made available from the Government towards refurbishing the Academy. The report also claims that overall that funding available for new and refurbishment of schools from the Government will be less than previously expected.

Colin Smyth said, “The Scottish Government hasn’t yet published details of their funding model but it’s the councils job to make clear to the Government that Dumfries Learning Town is a project that has to be looked at as a whole, not individual schools. The report to councillors that refers to “enhancements” to current campuses is meaningless waffle that will leave parents and teachers utterly confused. There is a growing feeling that the aim of council officers is to build a new Dumfries High School and associated primaries but not refurbish the Academy at the same time and that would be an utter betrayal that councillors should reject or worse still patch up the current schools. Pupils, teachers and parents at the Academy will feel they are being treated as second class and that’s just not acceptable ”.

“When this project was started clear promises were made that it would be broken into two phases with phase one featuring one new build secondary and one refurbishment and the same for phase two as far as the secondary school element is concerned. If the Government is not prepared to provide a share of funding for both the High School and Academy then the Council should prioritise doing so from their own capital funding. That programme is currently underutilised because the timetable for the Learning Town has already slipped. We have been here before. The Government refused to put a penny towards the Bridge, but the Council delivered that from their own capital resources. The longer they leave refurbishing the Academy the more expensive it will become to do so”.

“Any attempt to leave the Academy out of phase Two will put the very future of the school at risk. It is no secret that there are some opposition councillors and officials who support closing the Academy and if there was a change of administration in the future, they would happily shut the school. I have heard them talk about moving Gracefield Art Gallery into the Minerva Hall at the Academy. Maybe refurbishing and rebuilding only three of the four Dumfries secondary schools and leaving the Academy out is an attempt by some to make parents and pupils vote with their feet and move their kids to new schools and let the Academy whither on the vine. We cannot let that happen”.

Road Users Urged to Give Opinions on Road Maintenance.

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has urged road users regionwide to give their views to a Parliamentary Committee on the effectiveness of the current approach to road maintenance in Scotland and whether current funding levels are sufficient.


The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee are carrying out a Pre-budget inquiry into roads maintenance in Scotland, with a view to making recommendations to the Scottish Government ahead of them publishing their draft budget in December.

The deadline for evidence to the Committee--6 September - is fast approaching, although anyone wishing to give his or her views can also contact Colin Smyth, who is a member of the Committee, beyond this date as the Committee is not scheduled to consider the evidence until the end of September.

Scotland’s road network consists of almost 56,000km of roads, as well as footways, bridges, lightning, signs and lines. Local authorities are responsible for 25,600km of classified roads and 26,800km of unclassified roads. Transport Scotland is responsible for 3,600km of motorways and trunk roads, which make up only around 6% of the road network but account for a third of the traffic.

Audit Scotland, in a series of reports on roads maintenance in recent years, has been critical of the standard of local roads, within the context of declining budgets.

Colin Smyth said, “If there is one issue that can often dominate my inbox and advice surgeries it is complaints about the state of our roads. Despite often the best efforts of councils who spend millions on repairs and resurfacing, there is no doubt that the plague of potholes is getting worse not least because of Government budget cuts. That’s why the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee are carrying out a Pre-budget inquiry into roads maintenance in Scotland, with a view to making recommendations to the Scottish Government ahead of them publishing their draft budget in December. The Committee wants to hear from road users across Scotland, whether you area a large commercial transport operator, a small local businesses, a community groups or an individuals to develop a deep understanding of views on how our roads are being maintained. The call for evidence was made in June but with the deadline approaching I’m urging anyone who hasn’t submitted a view to do so soon, as it is vital that the voice of the south of Scotland is heard on a issue that impacts on so many people in our area.”


The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee would like to hear views on the following areas:

• How have recent spending decisions on roads maintenance affected the quality of Scotland’s roads, road users, businesses, public services, and the economy?
• If spending on roads maintenance continues at current levels, what could be the likely effects on the above groups?
• How could any negative effects of reduced road spending best be addressed?
• Is the current model of funding and delivering roads maintenance, which is split between Transport Scotland and local authorities, the most economic and efficient option? 

Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.