The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


SCC Response to Scottish Budget Statement

Commenting on the draft Scottish Budget for 2020 - 21, published today by the Scottish Government, Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:



"Minister Kate Forbes MSP has delivered a budget in difficult circumstances. Without knowledge of the taxation and investment policies of the UK government the Scottish Government has rightly gone ahead with committing to a spending plan albeit with a blindfold on. I would also like to extend my congratulations to the Minister as the first woman to have delivered a budget in the UK.

"The Scottish Chambers of Commerce network welcomes the commitment to investing in the National Infrastructure Mission, city and region growth funds. We also congratulate the Scottish Government for its commitment to no further increases in income tax divergence between Scotland and the rest of the UK this year."

On Infrastructure Investment, Dr Cameron said:

"The budget hits a delicate balance between the need to invest in a low carbon future and the sustainability of our rural communities and crumbling road network. Commitment to current plans of investment in A9 and the A96, as well as the commitment to regenerate the Clyde, are key asks from the business community and we are pleased these will continue to go ahead along with other key projects. Our members also welcome support for decarbonisation of transport in the Future Transport Fund and the Low Carbon transport loan fund."

On Skills, Dr Cameron said:

"The Scottish Chamber network has high ambitions for the development of its current and future workforce so the increases to the further and higher education sector as well as the skills and training budget to support apprentices are a step in the right direction. We look forward to supporting the further development of the Scottish Government’s career's strategy."

On Non-Domestic Rates, Dr Cameron said:

"We were relieved that parliamentarians recently voted to maintain the universal business rate. Today’s budget shows that the Scottish Government has heard our plea to ease the impact of rates on businesses. But in this key year when Scottish companies face further uncertainty, we urge the Scottish Government to pull out all the stops to help them deliver the sustainable and inclusive economy we all crave."

Moat Brae Launches New Book

Moat Brae will host its first ever book launch since opening as the National Centre for Children's Literature, introducing 'Evernight' the first in a spellbinding new series by Blue Peter Award and Scottish Book Award winning author Ross MacKenzie. The event takes place on Thursday 6th February to an audience of around 200  school children from Dumfries.

The children will also be the first to test out new spell making activities inspired by 'Evernight' which will be offered to visitors at Moat Brae from 15th-23rd February. The school holiday activities will be open to every visitor at Moat Brae, free with their entry ticket.  

'Evernight' is a fantasy story full of adventure and wild magic. At these workshops, the children will get the chance to meet characters from the story, get a license to practice magic and even craft a spell of their own. Any other witches and wizards who would like to try their hand at crafting spells can do so from the 15th-23rd of February. 

The book is aimed at children 9+ but children of any age can take part in the spell making activities. 


Moat Brae

Artists and Makers Revealed for Scotland’s Top Open Studios Event

A total of 87 artists and makers, including more than a dozen new participants, have been selected to take part in Spring Fling 2020 – Scotland’s premier open studio weekend. 

Studios across Dumfries and Galloway will throw their doors open to the public for the Bank Holiday Weekend of 23 to 25 May.

Spring Fling is one of the UK’s most successful contemporary visual art and craft events having attracted well over 100,000 visitors (who have made more than 300,000 studio visits) since it began in 2003.

Visitors from the UK and beyond enjoy meeting the creators of high-quality work and see their studios in country and coastal cottages, farms, converted chapels, custom-built studios and a multitude of other settings.

As ever there will be an abundance of established artists and makers as well as emerging talent. They include painters, illustrators, printmakers, ceramicists, woodworkers, jewellery makers, photographers, textile and glass artists, sculptors and photographers.



Joanna Macaulay, Assistant Director for Upland, which runs Spring Fling, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors to this year’s Spring Fling – there’s such an exciting choice of artists and makers to meet, and so many wonderful studios in beautiful parts of the region.

“It’s a chance to make the most of the Bank Holiday weekend by visiting artists and makers as they demonstrate their work and discuss their inspirations. Plus there’s the opportunity to buy a piece of art direct from the artist. 

“Each studio is unique, every artist is different but all of them offer a fascinating insight into the inner workings of an artist’s life.”  

There will be six colour-coded routes that visitors can follow – allowing them to see a wide variety of studios in different parts of this large rural region.

Participants include the international willow artist Lizzie Farey, glassmaker Amanda Simmons, bespoke furniture maker Daniel Lacey, luxury textile designer Morag Macpherson well-known landscape artist Hazel Campbell, sculptural metal artist Adam Booth, jewellery designer Michael Pell and painter Emma Visca. There will be ceramics by the likes of renowned potter Clare Dawdry, plus the chance to visit Port William printmaker Lisa Hooper and Wigtown painter Davy Brown.  

There will also be Springbacks – people from the region who currently live elsewhere – such as ceramicist Jo Walker who is based in Fife and jewellery maker Jesse Ball from Ireland.

The Neighbours scheme provides a platform for artists and makers from adjoining areas and this year includes Gail Kelly (textile artist from Northern Ireland), painter Deborah Campbell from the Scottish Borders ceramicist Hannah Spicer from Ayrshire and mixed media artist Suzanne Stuart Davies from Cumbria.

There will also be artists who have been awarded bursaries to enable them to take part and members of the Emerge mentoring scheme, which pairs young and established artists to transfer skills and experience.   

Details of the rest of this year’s event programme will be released soon. 

Closing Date Approaches for Dumfries Market Festival

The Guild (Dumfries) CIC is delighted to announce that applications are now open for Dumfries Market Festival, the long-awaited monthly street market community event to be held in the heart of Dumfries town centre. If you’re a maker, creative, designer, artist, food producer, street food vendor or indie business and keen to find new ways to get your products in front of new customers and gain exposure for your brand, be part of a community of makers and be involved in a social enterprise project, then apply today.


Kicking off on Saturday 14th March from 10am until 4pm, (and continuing on the 2nd Saturday of each month between March - November) visitors will be able to enjoy a whole host of marvellous makers and so much more. The Guild strives to create an exciting, vibrant and experiential community festival and makers market. A programme of performance, music, live installations, talks, tastings and workshops plus hands on masterclasses led by experts, where people of all ages can learn a new skill or craft, are also planned.


Director Leah Halliday says, “We are keen to collaborate with makers, designers, artists, food producers and creative indie business owners from across the region, other parts of Scotland & beyond. This will be a super addition to the town centre, and we hope will encourage people to explore all that Dumfries has to offer while promoting the “Shop Local” message.”


Director Kirsten Scott added, “We are also putting a call out to local musicians, bands, performers and community groups who would like to perform on the Plainstanes and add to the micro festival atmosphere. The recent Christmas Festival and Lights Switch on entertainment programme was such a huge success, we’d love to replicate that in miniature at every Market Festival event and bring the community together in celebration.”


Director Natalie Farrell also added, “We couldn’t do all of this without our amazing community of volunteers and we would ask that if anyone has some free time to help and skill share, with jobs such as building and dismantling stalls or event management and marketing, please get in touch.” The deadline to take part in the launch in March is midnight on Sunday 9th February. Applications for April and May events are also live on the website. Application criteria, terms and conditions and application forms can be found at

MSP praises nursery success

THERE has been warm praise for a high-achieving nursery at Dumfries . . . and a visit from the local MSP.


The well-equipped 'Happy Faces' facility in Calside Road again received impressive ratings in two key areas selected for inspection by the Care Inspectorate during a recent visit.

Building on previous success, grades of excellent were achieved for care / support and staffing to the delight of the enthusiastic team.

Happy Faces currently hold amongst the highest Care Inspectorate gradings for nurseries in south west Scotland.

Owner and manager Lesley Woodhouse, who also runs an after-school club with her husband Chris Belford, believes nursery services are increasingly important in meeting the challenges of modern life.

Lesley pointed out that following official visits elsewhere in the region by the Care Inspectorate, the second and third highest scoring nurseries were also privately operated.

She said: “I have always known my team were fantastic, highly skilled and dedicated. I’m delighted they have now been recognised.

“Most of the Happy Faces team have been here for years and our success reflects their tireless hard work and continuous development.’’

Lesley welcomes the roll-out this year of the Scottish Government early learning programme which will provide 1140 hours publicly funded care and education for eligible two-year-olds and all three and four year olds.

Happy Faces, she explained, had already received enquiries from parents looking for flexible quality early learning opportunities.

Lesley said: “I understand it is extremely difficult for parents to juggle working and paying for childcare. 

“The journey to get here has been fraught with difficulties and I want to say a huge thank you to Oliver Mundell, who has supported the sector tirelessly.”

Mr Mundell, a member of the Scottish Parliament education and skills committee, visited Happy Faces to congratulate them on their achievement.

He said: “Lesley and the team’s success illustrates the importance of the all-year round service offered by private operators.

“The early years investment is a welcome move nationally although there are still issues remaining in my constituency which I’m continuing to highlight.

“One point raised is that although private nurseries gain glowing reports, they appear to receive less than half the hourly rate of that given to local authority school nurseries.”