The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Dumfries & Galloway College Launches First Ever Virtual Open Week

Dumfries and Galloway College has launched its first ever virtual open week.

The five-day, action-packed, programme will feature speakers from across the college community providing useful information on course content, subject areas, admissions and funding, and many other topics.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions in live Q&A sessions with representatives from all areas of the college.

The event is the first of its kind in the college’s history and has been created as a way to hold an informative event during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal Joanna Campbell, who will join other senior staff members in welcoming attendees to the open week, praised the creation of the event as typical of Dumfries and Galloway College’s innovative use of digital technology to solve problems and deliver solutions.



Principal Joanna Campbell said:“COVID-19 has forced us all to adjust and find new ways of working and our virtual open week is just one of the new and innovative solutions our college team has come up with to meet these challenges.“I’m incredibly proud of everyone who has worked tirelessly to make this event happen.“As a college, we will monitor the response to our virtual open week closely and will use what we learn to continue to improve the service we offer to our students in the future.”


The college has played a vital role in ensuring that life carries on in the South of Scotland and has also led the way for the college sector across Scotland during the pandemic.

In addition to the focus on digital, the college is also prioritising distance learning to ensure that students have the skills they need to contribute to Scotland’s economic bounce back.

Dumfries and Galloway College’s virtual open week runs daily between 09:55 – 10:30 and 12:20 – 13:55 with a countdown and information videos available in between. 




Larger businesses to benefit from loans of up to £200 million

Businesses will be able to benefit from larger loans under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), the government announced today.

The maximum loan size available under the scheme will be increased from £50 million to £200 million to help ensure those large firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) have enough finance to meet cashflow needs during the outbreak.

The expanded loans, which have been introduced following discussions with lenders and business groups, will be available from 26 May.

John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:

We’re determined to support businesses of all sizes throughout this crisis and our loans and guarantees have already provided over £32 billion to thousands of firms.

Today we’re increasing the maximum loan to £200 million to make sure companies get the help they need.

Businesses have benefitted from over £32 billion in loans and guarantees to support their cashflow during the crisis. This includes 268,000 Bounce Back Loans worth £8.3 billion, 36,000 loans worth over £6 billion through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and £359 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, alongside £18.7 billion through the CCFF.

Companies borrowing more than £50 million through CLBILS will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan, including a ban on dividend payments and cash bonuses, except where they were previously agreed.

These restrictions will also apply to CCFF participants that wish to borrow money beyond 12 months from today. This will ensure that the money is used to keep the company going through the crisis. The Bank will also publish a list of companies who have benefitted under CCFF on 4 June.



Commenting on the extension of the CLBIL Scheme, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“This is welcome news. The Treasury has continued to listen to the concerns of business and is making sensible changes to business support schemes.

“These vital changes will make a real difference to companies, in particular larger firms. Access to finance is a priority for businesses of all sizes and the changes to this scheme, coupled with the other lending support schemes available will make sure that companies get the help they need to see them through this economic crisis.”


Emma Harper MSP offers new virtual advice surgery

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper is now offering online advice and support to her constituents in the first of her virtual advice surgeries being held in a few week’s time.

Constituents across Dumfries & Galloway are encouraged to book an appointment with the South Scotland MSP, for Monday 1 June, by emailing Ms Harper or contacting her team by phone, to help with any queries or support they may currently need. The online sessions will run in both the morning (10am-11am) and the afternoon (5pm-6pm) and once an appointment has been made arrangements for the online procedure will be discussed.

Ms Harper has been supporting businesses and constituents throughout Dumfries & Galloway with a variety of ongoing concerns since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic which began with lockdown restrictions at the end of March.

Hundreds of letters offering support and telephone calls have been handled by Ms Harper’s team to ensure people across the region are able to access appropriate support.


emma harper

Ms Harper, who is continuing to attend all parliamentary work via online parliamentary committee meetings and in the Scottish Parliament chamber, as well as attending to her South Scotland constituency work, said;

Since lockdown restrictions began, like many other msps, I’ve been unable to physically attend in the Scottish Parliament chamber and committee meeting rooms but it’s business as usual otherwise and I attend virtual meetings throughout the week and with my team we deal with daily issues arising from help needed from constituents who are struggling with a variety of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since the beginning of lockdown we have been reaching out to hundreds of people we think may need support, as well as many of the region’s businesses to identify immediate needs and assist them.

“I’d like to encourage anyone who needs help to contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  as my door is always open.”

MP seeks assurance of better TransPennine service after lockdown

LOCAL MP David Mundell has asked UK Transport Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris to ensure that TransPennine are held to their commitments to improve their train service at Lockerbie once lockdown restrictions are eased.


In a video meeting with the Minister, Mr Mundell stated it was vital that the rail operator delivered the advertised timetable on a daily basis from the busy West Coast mainline station.


David Mundell Skype Call Train

Mr Mundell said he wanted to be certain that TransPennine were using the down time available to them during the coronavirus lockdown to put their house in order so that when the service returns to normal, there will be no more routine cancellations and excessive delays.


The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP said: “Over recent weeks TransPennine’s figures for reliability and punctuality have shot up, but sadly because of coronavirus, most Lockerbie passengers have not seen the benefit. 


"These have been ghost trains, but that shouldn’t mean the same level of service can’t be delivered when the trains are full.


“So, as I told the Minister, what’s essential is that as the service begins to return to the normal timetable, we do see that  same level of good service and local people get the timetable, reliability and punctuality that TransPennine should have been delivering before coronavirus. 


"Their many failings were laid bare at the public meeting at Lockerbie Town Hall in February. Then,  and previously, undertakings had been given that there would be improvements, and these now need to be delivered.  


“I am pleased that Mr Heaton-Harris confirmed he was in regular contact with Liz Collins, the acting Chief Executive of TransPennine, and will be holding them to account for the level of service they deliver going forward.


"I have also written directly to Liz Collins asking her to set out how and when the undertakings to improve the service will happen in normal running and called on her to continue to take a direct interest in delivering the service improvements Lockerbie passengers demand and deserve.”

UK Government Publish Covid-19 Roadmap And Guidance On Safe-Working For Firms

The UK Government has set out its plan for the UK’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, fleshing out the details outlined in the Prime Minister’s weekend broadcast for a switch from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’ to combat the impact of coronavirus and begin the return to work.



The 69-page roadmap covers a number of steps, each of which may involve adding new adjustments to the existing restrictions or taking some adjustments further, depending on the infection risk at each point, and the effectiveness of the government’s mitigation measures like contact tracing.

As a start, in England from 13 May all workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.

The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and nonessential retail which during this first step the government is requiring to remain closed.

While the government has described the roadmap as ‘UK-wide’, the first ministers of the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all indicated they do not support the move to a ‘stay alert’ strategy and will not necessarily be implementing the same changes within the same timeframe.

In addition, guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic has been published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.


This guidance is only applicable to businesses in England.