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

 

MSP WELCOMES CLARITY OVER SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed an intervention from the Scottish Government after the council told some local businesses they failed to qualify for emergency COVID grants.

The SNP MSP had written to the government Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP and the council, requesting clarity after being approached by desperate businesses.

The Scottish Government has allocated more than £2 billion in emergency business support to be distributed by councils. To be eligible for the cash grants businesses must be on the non-domestic rates roll or registered for the Small Business Bonus rates. However, a small number were left off the local non-domestic rates roll due to administrative errors and were not registered for small business bonus.

 

Joan McAlpine MSP

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“A number of businesses in Dumfries and Galloway had contacted me after being told by the council that faulty paperwork meant they could not get their COVID-19 grant immediately. 

Ms Forbes had already told them they could use their discretion and some councils elsewhere in Scotland were happy with this. However Dumfries and Galloway officers wanted more guidance. I wrote to Miss Forbes and she last night issued that new guidance. I hope now all councils have the confidence to start distributing the grants as soon as possible.

“I have been fighting hard for local firms and will continue to stick up for them throughout this crisis. So if any business in the region is still having difficulty accessing their grants they can get in touch with me by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll do what I can to help.

“Over £388 million worth of grants have already been distributed across Scotland, so it’s only a small number who have been unable to access them. Hopefully this new guidance will ensure that they now receive the help they desperately need.  The council has assured me that these businesses are now their priority and they are working as hard as they can to get the grants paid out as soon as possible.

“This will be welcome news to bone fide small businesses who have been trading for years but whose details had not been updated. These micro businesses who had been in touch with me were desperate- they have overheads and bills to pay. When the crisis is over there’s a job to be done to ensure that systems are in place to update the rates roll as soon as a business takes on a tenancy.”

SCC comment on Scottish Government statement on the lockdown

Commenting on the Scottish Government's publication of "Covid-19: A Framework for Decision Making," Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

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“The framework announced today sets the scene for business and civic Scotland to be a part of the recovery plan. We agree that controlling the virus and preventing a second spread is utmost as it may result in tougher lockdown measures down the line.

“It is clear from today's announcement that social distancing measures are here for the medium to long term. That's why creating new working models which embed these measures are critical if we are to protect jobs and re-start the economy, and we must do this in partnership with the business community and Government.

“We also need to make sure any phased return includes all parts of the business community, from large companies to SMEs and to businesses in rural areas.

“We recognise the challenge ahead of us. The business community will play its full part to inform and design the phased and eventual return to economic recovery."

COVID - 19, latest guide to the support available in Scotland issues by MSP

MSP Finlay Carson has issued the latest guide to the support available in Scotland to people, businesses and charities affected by COVID-19


This now includes:

  •        The opening of the UK Government’s job retention scheme to applications.
  •        The expansion of the UK Government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
  •        Further details on the UK Government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
  •        The announcement of the UK Government’s innovation fund and support for R&D companies.
  •        Further details on the Scottish Government’s self-employed hardship fund.
  •        The announcement of the Scottish Government’s creative, tourism & hospitality enterprises hardship fund.
  •        The announcement of the Scottish Government’s pivotal enterprise resilience fund

This week Mr Carson had success in accelerating the process which will allow Dumfries & Galloway Council to pay grants to those who can evidence entitlement to Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) at 17 March many of which were being deferred because of administrative issues with rates calculations and SBBS.

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE LATEST SUPPORT GUIDE

 

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Plans for Gretna golf course to be revitalised into residential area

Construction work on 200 new homes on the old golf course in the village of Gretna could begin as early as this year after the submission of a detailed planning application by Alba Developments.

The 28.5-acre site, which already has planning permission in principle for 200 homes, was acquired by Alba Developments from previous owners in 2019.

If approved, the area will be transformed into 200 homes with close access to Gretna Primary school as well as local shops, cafes and restaurants.

The development aims to revitalise the currently redundant site through an investment that will help build a sustainable new neighbourhood providing useful and meaningful open space with a wide range of house types to encourage a varied and diverse new community. 

Additionally, 20% of the development will provide much needed affordable homes surrounded local amenities and public transport network.

The proposals submitted will involve 2 to 3-bed bungalows and terraces and 4 to 5-bed family homes as well as elements of open space and the provision of a new cycleway and footpath connections through the new neighbourhood and the surrounding footpath network.

Shane Ticklepenny, managing director from Alba Developments, said: “We are excited to see things moving after having submitted the detailed planning application for our Gretna development to the council. This site will help the local area and bring much-needed family and affordable homes to the area.

“We are very proud of our plans at Gretna and hope it will inject new life to the village. Our investment will bring an economic boost and attract new families to the area.”

The planning application submitted to the Dumfries and Galloway Council comprises the site of the western edge of Gretna which extends from the B721 in the north to Loanwath Road in the south.

Green light for Scotland’s first legal cannabis farm

Dumfries and Galloway Council has approved plans for what will be the first legal cannabis farm in Scotland.

Agricultural entrepreneurs William and Neil Ewart have been given planning permission to build the pioneering facility in Langholm, where the drug will be grown for use in medicines.

Medical cannabis products containing THC, the drug’s psychoactive compound, were illegal in the UK until the law was changed in November 201 to recognise evidence that medicinal cannabis benefits some patients.

Specialist doctors can now prescribe medications based on cannabis, which are most commonly used to treat epilepsy or chronic pain.

Neil Ewart said: “This is an excellent step in the correct direction but there are so many other steps to be taken.”

The 1.5-hectare greenhouse is expected to produce 200 litres of cannabis oil a year, which will be made on site from the raw plant material.

The oil will be extracted from the plant and bottled before being sold to pharmaceutical companies who will turn it into a medicine. About 50 people will be recruited locally for jobs.