The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Council Invests £32.6m on Capital Projects Across Region

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee [10 September 2019] will consider an update on its Capital Investment Strategy, which will see £32.6m worth of investment into capital and infrastructure projects across the region.

The Council’s budget, agreed in February 2019, made significant investment in regional and local priorities, including;
• £961,000 spent this year for Flood Protection Schemes in Newton Stewart, Langholm and Stranraer.
• £7.15m to carry out repairs and maintenance in schools and to fund works required to increase capacity for the increase in hours of early learning and childcare.
• More than £9m to maintain roads, pavements, street lighting and invest in active travel and traffic measures.

As part of the Local Government Finance Settlement, Dumfries and Galloway Council received £1.53m to invest in Town Centres to stimulate and support economic development. Conditions were attached, which means the funding must be committed by March 2020 and projects completed by September 2020. The Council has already engaged with local groups and organisations and have plans in place to ensure all this funding is utilised to support Town Centres across the region.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Chair of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation committee, said, “This financial year our Council will spend more than £32m on capital and infrastructure projects to support local and regional priorities. Despite reducing funding from the Scottish Government, our Council continues to invest in schools, roads and other local priorities.”

Councillor Henry McClelland, Vice Chair, said:  "We must focus our capital spending to ensure that we can target it effectively and maximise its impact, supporting local communities, creating and supporting employment, and building sustainable communities. We’ve been able to align regional and national priorities to capitalise on the Scottish Government Town Centre Funding, national Flood Protection Scheme support, and the capital grants from government to help roll out the 1140 hours Early Learning and Childcare programme. We're also tapping into national capital investment for active travel schemes through Sustrans Scotland that will improve key links between our communities.” 

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”.