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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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

 

Petition battle MP and MSP praise axed train return

LOCAL MP David Mundell and constituency MSP Oliver Mundell have thanked 3,000 people who signed their petition to have 10.32 Lockerbie to Edinburgh service reinstated after it was axed in the December timetable changes. 

 

Mundell's at Lockerbie Train Station

The popular service operated by TransPennine Express allowed travellers from Lockerbie to spend a day in Edinburgh for medical, business, shopping or other reasons and is set to return as part of the newly published timetable.

 

The father and son political team argued strongly for the re-instatement of the service and were greatly aided by having so many people sign their petition in a short period, demonstrating how strongly people felt about the loss of the much-valued service.  

 

Once Covid-19 temporary restrictions are lifted the new timetable, which had been due to start this month, will come fully into operation.

 

 

David Mundell MP said: “It's great to see the 10.32 service back, even though most people can’t use it just yet. It was an important part of the Lockerbie timetable and so many station users were surprised and disappointed to see it withdrawn in December without any credible explanation.  

 

"We lobbied TransPennine hard to reintroduce the service and one of our strongest arguments was the level of pubic support for the service. Everybody who signed the petition made a difference in getting the service re-introduced.”

 

Oliver Mundell said: “The 10.32 service was very important to many Lockerbie Station users and always busy, which made TransPennine’s decision to drop it incomprehensible. 

 

"Suggestions that there was a problem getting a slot at Waverley Station or congestion on the West Coast Mainline proved unfounded and so there was no reason why it couldn’t be reinstated, other than TransPennine making it happen.

 

"As soon as we launched the petition, we were inundated with people who wanted to sign it, reaching 3,000 in just a short time.  I’m sure the petition played a key part in getting the service back and I hope it is not long before local people can use it again."

 

David Mundell is also set meet to UK Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP next week to discuss how to secure improved reliability of TransPennine services at Lockerbie Station whenever rail services start to return to normal after the Covid-19 public health emergency. 

 

Mr Mundell said: “Before rail services were adjusted for coronavirus, TransPennine admitted themselves service reliability was not good enough. We need to ensure that improvements promised are delivered.”

 

£100m Additional Govt Fund for Businesses Opens For Business

A £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people opens for applications today.

The grant funding has been divided into three distinct funds and will be administered by local authorities and Scotland’s enterprise agencies.

The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – a £45m fund for viable but vulnerable SME firms who are vital to Scotland’s economy

The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund – a £20m fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief

The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund – a £35m fund for newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants.

 

Fiona Hyslop DGArts Festival

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our economy has been hit hard by this crisis and previously profitable businesses have seen demand dry up overnight. Our support will help alleviate the hardship those individuals and companies are facing.

“I am particularly pleased that we will be able to help the newly self-employed who do not qualify for the UK’s scheme and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ELIGIBILITY FOR THE SCHEMES

 

CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR THE SCHEMES

Applications for additional funding open today

Team South of Scotland (Team SOS) is encouraging anyone who thinks they might be eligible for the new funds as announced by the Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop last week to make sure they apply.

 Fiona Hyslop DGArts Festival

Last week, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop released details of the extra £100m Scottish Government funding to support the local economy in the shape of a newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund; a Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and a Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.

These funds are all open for applications from 2pm today (30 April) and Team SOS are committed to making sure people know where to go and how to access the application process. 

Team SOS are also reminding people to ensure their applications are fully completed.

The Self-Employed Hardship Fund is being administered by the two local authorities via the following:

The Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund is being administered nationally in conjunction with South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) via the following:

For those who are still not eligible for these new national funds or any of the other existing funds or grants can contact SOSE for further support and advice at www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/contact or call 0300 304 8888.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE said: “As a partnership with the two Councils, and through feedback we have already received from our Board Members, businesses and communities, we know that there have been some gaps in support available and we had already taken steps to identify what we could potentially collectively do to address that. Since then, we have very much welcomed these additional funds from Scottish Government and this allows us to now re-assess where we think we are in terms of any gaps. 

“Of course, this is a hugely challenging time and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide support wherever it is needed and that this support is tailored to individual needs and circumstances. If people have already applied for all available streams of funding currently available - and are genuinely still struggling - it is important that they know they can get in touch with us at South of Scotland Enterprise, so we can talk to them.”

Team South of Scotland partners have been prioritising ensuring the resources and processes are in place to be able to process grants quickly with both D&G Council and SBC having issued over £40m of grants to businesses in the South of Scotland.

Depute Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Rob Davidson, said: “We continue to administer business grants as quickly as possible and since the announcement of these additional grants, we have been working extremely hard to put in place what is needed to now allow us to also be able to process the Self Employed Hardship Funding. As always, our priority is to make sure we do what’s necessary to release this much-needed additional money as quickly and as effectively as we can and we continue to ask for patience and understanding during this time. We also ask people to make sure they get in touch if they don’t know where to apply for support.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development said: “It is really important that people apply for these funds as quickly as possible now they are available. It is our aim to make sure people know what support is available and can access that support quickly and easily. We know we are quite unique in the South of Scotland in terms of our economy and rurality, therefore it’s going to be important for us to take stock of what the landscape looks like now and going forward. This new round of funding we hope will have an impact on that but this is going to be a long journey of which partnership working will be absolutely key.”

MP welcomes military support in Covid-19 efforts

A LOCAL politician has received reassurance that increased mobile testing for coronavirus, supported by a military team, will begin soon in his largely rural constituency.


Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell, who raised the issue with NHS Dumfries and Galloway, welcomed the additional capacity.


He said that he wished to ensure that as the testing operation widens in the coming weeks, remoter parts of his constituency would be fully covered.


Mr Mundell said: "I've been assured that both NHS Dumfries and Galloway's public health team and the military personnel are available to go where it is judged they can make the most difference.


"It is not just the more populated areas. One remote location, for example, where community testing is planned will be Eskdalemuir."


Local NHS officials have confirmed that residents with symtoms in care homes have been tested in recent weeks.


They will continue to use a well-established local system for testing key workers and the existing processes in place for testing staff and residents.


Mr Mundell stated he was pleased the UK-wide initiative would facilitate testing in communities in Dumfries and Galloway area where there were suspected coronavirus 'hotspots.'


He understood this would allow testing of local people who would otherwise not be eligible through existing programmes.

 

David Mundell 2018
Mr Mundell said: "It is clear that testing is going to be a key part of the next phase of trying to manage this dreadful disease.


"We need to ensure that people in our area have the same access to testing as elsewhere as well as ensuring our elderly and vulnerable in care homes and the community are protected.”

HARPER RAISES ILLEGAL FLY-TIPPING WITH ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has questioned the Scottish Government’s Environment Secretary over a reported increase of illegal fly-tipping across communities the length and breadth of Scotland including in Dumfries and Galloway.

The question, which followed a motion laid before the Parliament by Ms Harper to raise concerns over this issue, asked the Government what action it is taking to work with local authorities to support people who are looking to dispose of additional waste, and to tackle the illegal dumping of waste.

A number of organisations – including the National Farmers Union Scotland and COSLA which represents Scottish local authorities – have spoken about the damaging impacts of fly-tipping. Reports have shown that illegal fly-tipping is putting additional strain on their resources at a time when they are responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

 

emma harper

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“Following the motion I laid before Parliament last week to raise concerns over illegal fly-tipping across Scotland since the COVID-19 restrictions have been put in place, I was pleased to have the opportunity to raise the issue directly with the Environment Secretary.

“Fly-tipping is illegal and dealing with the issue – whether it be through having to clean up the mess left behind or catching and prosecuting those responsible – is putting additional strain on the resources available to local authorities who are already responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“I was pleased with the Cabinet Secretary’s response to my question and I have written to Dumfries and Galloway Council to ask what further arrangements can be put in place to help people deal with additional household waste – particularly as the local authorities recycling centres are currently closed. However, the local authority is best placed to address this issue as staffing needs and suitable deployment of appropriate workers is a key issue in all refuse collection and disposal and I am keen to support the best decisions to be made.

“My question and answer from the Environment Secretary – as well as my motion - can be viewed on the Scottish Parliament’s website and on my own social media channels.”

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP said;

“There is a weekly waste forum in place at the moment which involves partners in SEPA, local government, Zero Waste Scotland and the waste sector, to support resilience in disposal arrangements and waste arrangements and this is something we’re keeping a close eye on.

“Fly-tipping is illegal, dangerous and unnecessary, regardless of the current circumstances, and absolutely should not be happening.

“So the waste forum is part of the process to monitor the impact of disruption on the consequential illegal activity. Local authorities do remain responsible for managing local waste services, including fly-tipping, but that partnership working is active and ongoing and again, it’s about communication as well, about how to best manage and dispose of waste at this time.

“I’m sure we’re all aware of situations where we can see that there has been recourse to informal waste dumping so that will continue to be a serious conversation we’re having across all the parts of the sector”.

Gemma Cooper, NFU Scotland Head of Policy Team, said:

“Fly-tipping is serious issue for many of our members and the clear increase since the lockdown measures have been so disappointing. Dumping garden waste and other materials is not only a terrible eye sore in the countryside but it can also be extremely dangerous for farm animals and other wildlife.

“Animals are naturally curious and will investigate foreign objects left in their environment. Hazards can include injury from sharp edges and protruding objects or the risk of becoming caught up or entangled in waste materials.

“NFU Scotland is happy to back the motion set out last Friday by Emma Harper MSP and is glad to have the matter raised in Parliament. This is a serious, nationwide issue and needs to be addressed immediately.”