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


DGCouncil discuss replacement of European Structural Funds (ESF) in Scotland, post EU-Exit

Members of Economy and Resources (E&R) Committee (30 Jan) will be asked to agree draft responses to the Consultation on the replacement of European Structural Funds (ESF) in Scotland, post EU-Exit and to ensure that stakeholders provide their input, experience and expertise to the development of the replacement.

 European Structural Funds have been an important support of economic development projects in the South of Scotland. Our region currently has funding of £4,329,589 from ESF for the period 2015-2022. The Employability Pipeline Strategic Intervention programme is the main recipient of the funding, but this project is due to end in 2022.  The UK Government have indicated that all funding previously agreed with the European Union programmes will continue to receive funding through to the end of their programmes.

It has proved difficult to attract ERDF and ESF assistance for projects from the EU Structural Funds in the South of Scotland since 2010 because:

  • The area was not part of a NUTS2 region, benefiting from higher levels of EU support and increased intervention levels, despite its very low level of GDP per head.
  • An increasingly national approach has been taken by the Scottish Government to the allocation of EU Structural Funds with a focus on distributing funds directly through Agencies.
  • The high levels of match funding needed to fund projects within the national programmes and the onerous and shifting audit requirements.

 In Scotland in the period 2014-20 there are four NUTS2 areas i.e. Eastern Scotland, South Western Scotland, North Eastern Scotland and the Highlands and Islands. D&G is included in the South Western Scotland NUTS2 area. The effect of this has been to mask the significant intra-regional inequalities in performance between Scottish Borders and the wider Eastern Scotland NUTS2 area, and Dumfries and Galloway and the wider South Western Scotland NUTS2 area.

Following feedback from the Scottish and UK Governments, that the population of the South of Scotland (i.e. Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders) was too small to be designated as a NUTS2 region, a wider Southern Scotland area proposal was developed with South Lanarkshire and the three Ayrshire local authorities. The new Southern Scotland NUTS2 area came into force in 2018. Tellingly, Southern Scotland is now the NUTS2 area with the lowest GDP per head in the UK.



Chair of E&R Committee, Rob Davidson said: “Being grouped with the other areas in the West, which includes Glasgow, means that our rurality was often ignored as the focus is on the larger cities. It also affected our GDP per head. It is important to recognise this. Through the current formula when we are compared to London GDP per head, this creates the widest regional disparity in Europe. Provided members agree, I will now write to our local Members of the UK and Scottish Parliaments to outline our position and to request support towards the future funding following the UK exit from the EU. This reaffirms our view that future funding should be based on the 2021 recognised NUTS 2 regions.”

Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “The focus of this funding should be NUTS2 regions such as Southern Scotland which require additional support to tackle challenges which arise from our geography, population imbalance and low income. Place is an important part of this so regional bodies need to be empowered to make our own decisions on projects to be supported with long-term funding assistance.”

Reshaping Stranraer and the West

The reshaping of Stranraer and the West programme will be the subject of a report to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee on 30 January. The programme includes Stranraer Waterfront, the town centre and the George Hotel.

A Project Brief will be considered which sets out the requirements for work that will result in the development of a shared vision and prioritised action plan for Stranraer and the west for the next 10 years. This will build upon work undertaken previously and aims to prioritise short to medium projects, fulfilling the objectives previously agreed by the council.

Work in Stranraer will focus on a number of economic impacts, including:

  • Increasing footfall to the town centre by growth markets and growth sectors;
  • Lengthening dwell times by visitors in growth markets and growth sectors;
  • Increasing uptake of the town centre retail offer by visitors attracted to the town centre;
  • Increasing local economic activity while tackling constraints on employability by creating inclusive training and employment opportunities;
  • Increasing participation in the labour market by marginalised/lower skilled groups;
  • Building resiliency for Stranraer town centre during the tourism ‘shoulder months’;
  • Diversifying the income streams from the economic uses of the asset to ensure that it is financially sustainable.

The report states that work on the George Hotel is progressing well, with the first phase of remedial work now complete, including internal propping and water and weather proofing.  Members recognise that the George is a large building in a prime location in the heart of Stranraer and this needs to be addressed quickly as it affects the perception of the town centre as a whole. Therefore, work on the second phase has already started, including an outline business case on possible future uses.  Stakeholder engagement has begun and this will continue to develop as the project progresses. There will also be an opportunity for the public to express views and develop a short-list of preferred solutions.

The biggest strategic driver for investment is currently the Stranraer Waterfront proposition, which aims to reposition Stranraer as a successful marine leisure destination. Work is also underway through the Borderlands Growth deal to secure investment into the expansion of the marina to turn it into a visitor destination and to stimulate a wider range of investments with the potential to create further significant economic activity and benefits for the town.



Chair of E&R Committee, Rob Davidson said: “This is a welcome update on a priority area of activity for our Council. We have made the George Hotel safe and reopened Church Street but we are acutely aware that the building is essentially a shell and must be redeveloped in order to benefit the town centre in the future. It’s important that we decide on the next steps for this on the basis of community consultation and a robust business case, and in the context of the wider plans to make Stranraer a visitor destination in its own right, which are also outlined in this report.”

Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “The work will build upon work undertaken previously and aims to prioritise short to medium projects which fulfil the objectives previously agreed by the council. We will take on board views from stakeholders and the public on issues such as the need for improvements to the appearance of the East Pier and consultation on the future use of the George Hotel.”


The drastic increase in the number of applications for crisis grants in Dumfries and Galloway is deeply concerning, according to South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth.



New figures released yesterday (January 28) by the Scottish Government show the number of applications for crisis grants was 1,620 between July and September 2019, an increase of 330 (26 per cent) compared to the same period in 2018.

Across Scotland, the figures show that from July to September 2019, local authorities received 51,715 applications for crisis grants: a 16 per cent increase on the previous year. A total of £3.2 million in crisis grants was paid across the whole country during this period, 34 per cent more than the previous year.

However, Dumfries and Galloway was one of the councils which saw the biggest increase in applications.

South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “These figures are deeply concerning and highlight just how much pressure people are under in this time of austerity.

“It shows how important it is for the Scottish Government to listen to councils at this year’s budget and deliver the resources our hard-pressed local authorities need.

“It’s also clear that more also needs to be done by the UK Government to tackle the reasons why so many people have to turn to crisis grants, particularly ending Universal Credit”

“There are clearly very serious social problems driving people in Dumfries and Galloway towards crisis grants and the combination of the SNP’s council budget cuts and the UK Government’s appalling benefit changes have left people seriously struggling.”


South of Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has said it is time for action to address transport issues in the south west of Scotland, following the publication of the South West Scotland transport study earlier today (January 28).



The report highlights more than 20 options to improve connectivity in the south west of Scotland. These options will now go through to a national assessment of future transport interventions for further consideration.

Just some of the recommendations for further appraisal include:

  • The reopening of the rail links between Dumfries and the West Coast Mainline and between Stranraer and Dumfries and a new line from Stranraer to Cairnryan 
  • A continuous programme of improvements for the A77 and A75 including partial dualling, bypassing and other upgrades to replace existing low-quality stretches of the road with higher quality, more efficient and safer alternatives and improvements to the A76
  • The development of better freight facilities, especially to support the timber industry in the area.
  • The reopening of railway stations including Thornhill, Eastriggs, Beattock and Dunragit.
  • Increased rail services on the West Coast Mainline

However, while Colin Smyth has cautiously welcomed the publication of the report, he believes it is time for action, rather than more warm words regarding transport issues in the south west.

Colin Smyth said: “Our region’s transport system has been neglected for far too long by the Scottish Government and the economic impact of that neglect is there for all to see. 

“There has been a sustained lack of investment in key trunk roads which make them a real risk of serious accident, to say nothing of the fact that bus and rail fares are simply too high to make them an affordable alternative to the car, people in our region are being badly let down. 

“While I cautiously welcome the recommendations in the report, it is now time for action. The people in the south west of Scotland want to see real changes to address the very serious transport issues they face on a daily basis. This can’t just be a wish list of projects that sit on a shelf gathering dust.  

“It will also be a source of frustration for local people that the full dualling of the A75 and A77 has not been considered, while the SNP Government presses ahead spending £3 billion to dual the A9 from Perth to Inverness.”

2020 DGBusiness Awards Postponement Announcement


After discussion with the DGChamber board and listening to advice from both UK and Scottish governments the decision has been taken to postpone the 2020 DGBusiness Awards.

The event which was due to take place on Friday, March 20th 2020 at Easterbrook Hall will now take place on Friday September 25th 2020.

All bookings for the original date have been transferred to the new date.

We hope you understand our decision and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.




DGChamber is delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2020 DGBusiness Awards sponsored by Cunninghame Housing Association,

which will be held on FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 25th 2020 at Easterbrook Hall.


DGBusiness Awards host Lee Medd said: “The entries to the 2020 DGBusiness Awards have given a great indication to the state of the local economy and the confidence among businesses within it.

We’ve seen more entries to our Most Promising New Business category than ever before, in a time when customer service is paramount the judges saw some fantastic entries and had a really hard time just getting to this interview shortlist. Our Social enterprise award is more diverse than ever and our NEW awards for Tourism and Independent Retailer have been supported in huge numbers.

I’d like to thank all our category sponsors and Cunninghame Housing Association, our Headline Sponsor"



Tickets for this event can be purchased on-line now BY CLICKING HERE or by calling DGChamber on 01387 702157 

The Shortlist

Outstanding SME (25 Employees or Under) - Sponsored by Cunninghame Housing Association

  •          Galloway Activity Centre/Loch Ken Eco Bothies
  •          Genesis Occupational Health
  •          Paterson ATV
  •          Robertson Gemini


Outstanding Large Business - Sponsored by Cunninghame Housing Association

  •          Brown Brothers
  •          Concrete Wall Panels
  •          ETB Technologies


Most Promising New Business – Sponsored by SP Energy Networks

  •          Botann Rubber Company
  •          Patwoman
  •          Qubiti Ltd

Excellence in Customer Service

  •          Alpha Solway
  •          Genesis Occupational Health
  •          Stewartry Care


Outstanding Social Enterprise

  •          Cunninghame Housing Association
  •          The Crichton Trust
  •          The Usual Place


Outstanding Independent Retailer

  •          Earth’s Crust Bakery
  •          Galloway Bridal
  •          The Pied Piper


Outstanding Tourism Business or Organisation - Sponsored by The Crichton Trust

  •          Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival
  •          Galloway Activity Centre
  •          Wigtown Festival Company


Outstanding Family Business - Sponsored by Armstrong Watson

  •          Boyd Group
  •          Brown Brothers
  •          Grierson & Graham
  •          Robinsons Scotland

D&G Champion in Developing the Young Workforce - Sponsored by DYW Dumfries & Galloway

  • Brian McCafferty - Browns Food Group
  • Sarah Britton - Browns Food Group
  • Drew Easton - Jas P Wilson
  • Tracey McEwan - Tarff Valley 

Best Work Ready Project - Sponsored by DYW Dumfries & Galloway

  • A day in the LIfe of SP Energy Networks
  • JobCentre Plus - Open Doors
  • Community Windpower
  • Employability & Skills - Workforce Skills Award - Dumfries & Galloway Council


Young Entrepreneur Award - Sponsored by Alpha Solway

  •          Brandon Barrett
  •          Gemma Findlay
  •          Maeve Reekie


Entrepreneur Award

  •          Lesley Ann Johnstone
  •          Amanda McFern
  •          John McGee