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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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

 

CHANCELLOR'S ECONOMIC PACKAGE WON’T SCRATCH THE SURFACE OF ECONOMIC TSUNAMI BATTERING REGION, WARNS MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic package of measures announced earlier today (Wednesday) won’t scratch the surface of the economic tsunami battering the south of Scotland.

 

The Chancellor announced several measures designed to help the UK in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colin Smyth said: “Massive intervention was needed by the Chancellor due to the slowness of Government to tackle a health crisis, which has turned it into an economic crisis but sadly what has been announced falls short of what was needed. 

“The proposals announced will simply not scratch the surface of the economic tsunami that is battering the area. 

“We didn’t get the back to work budget needed and I suspect the Chancellor will be forced to come back in a few weeks to announce more action as the economy goes into a deep recession.

“The decision not to extend the furlough scheme for sectors such as tourism and hospitality and others that won’t need staff to fully return for some time, is a massive real blow to this area. 

“That decision will mean there will be more redundancies as the scheme begins to be reduced, and ultimately ended, in October. 

“The furlough scheme should have been extended for some sectors until next year but instead what we now see many companies who can’t afford to pay workers lay people off, adding to the already record high level of unemployment. 

“There are also gaps in grant schemes for businesses and many have lost out locally. That’s why I'll continue to put pressure on both the Scottish and UK Governments and their agencies to bring forward new grant schemes, including a dedicated South of Scotland scheme to allow local flexibility in how that is allocated.”

DGChamber's Kenny Bowie comments on Chancellor's Stimulus Package

Commenting on the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s package of measures to support economic recovery announced today (8thJuly), Kenny Bowie, DGChamber President, said:

“This announcement marks the next step forward in ensuring we achieve an economic recovery that protects jobs. This is essential if we are going to be able to prevent an unemployment crisis as well as meet ambitious low carbon targets.’’

 

Kenny Bowie

On the Barnett Formula:

“The £800 million additional funding received through the Barnett formula is a welcome boost to support Scottish business recovery. It is now up to the Scottish Government to work with business and target support where it is most needed – protecting jobs and ensuring young people can access training and support.”

On the Kickstart Scheme & Jobs Retention Bonus:

“The Kickstart Scheme is a practical step in the recovery that will protect existing jobs while creating new ones. In addition, the Jobs Retention Bonus scheme will act as a bridge to support the thousands of jobs that have been maintained through the furlough scheme. Employers will need this incentive to ensure they can deliver sustainable employment.

“The Chamber network stands ready to work with government on the detail of these schemes to ensure they are successfully delivered on the ground.”

On support for the housing market & Stamp Duty:

“This is a great opportunity for the Scottish Government to align the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) with the Stamp Duty holiday announced today which would stimulate the Scottish housing market and play an important role in protecting and creating jobs in the construction industry and the supply chain.

“The Scottish Government must also take the baton and enable plans to decarbonise Scotland’s housing stock to ensure we meet net-zero ambitions.”

On VAT reductions:

“SCC called for targeted VAT reductions for the hospitality and tourism industry and the Chancellor has listened. These reductions are welcome as hard-pressed businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors are in desperate need of such lifeline support.

“However, the Chancellor missed an opportunity today to reduce VAT for the retail sector. This move would have encouraged more shoppers to return to our high streets and breathe life back into our local economies. The Chancellor should still consider this reduction in his Autumn Budget.’’

On Eat out to Help Out:

“This will be a shot in the arm for the hospitality sector next month and will provide a much-needed confidence boost for consumers.”

Aldi Targets New Store Locations Including Castle Douglas

Aldi is on the lookout for 19 new store locations across Scotland, and has targeted Castle Douglas as a potential site it has announced.

 

Aldi

The fourth largest volume retailer in Scotland, Aldi has been on an expansion drive in recent years as it targets having 1,200 stores open across the UK by 2025.

Among the towns it hopes to open in are Fraserburgh, Peebles, and Stepps. It also wants to build additional stores in Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dumfries & Galloway.

Aldi, which currently has 92 stores in Scotland and more than 880 across the UK, has identified 19 new locations in Scotland where it is looking for freehold town-centre or edge-of-centre sites suitable for development.

It says each site should be around 1.5 acres and able to accommodate a 20,000 sq ft store with around 100 parking spaces, ideally on a prominent main road and with good visibility and access. 

Ciaran Aldridge, National Property Director at Aldi UK, said: “Aldi is growing rapidly and we are welcoming around a million new customers into our stores every year.

“But there are also hundreds of towns across the UK where there is not an Aldi, meaning there are hundreds of thousands of people who can’t easily access the high quality, affordable food our customers love.

“We are willing to explore all opportunities, including developer-led schemes or existing retail units.”

The full list of locations it is targeting in Scotland are:

  • Aberdeen (north)
  • Aberdeen (south)
  • Stonehaven
  • Fraserburgh
  • Baillieston
  • Darnley/Pollok
  • Battlefield/ Cathcart
  • Partick
  • Finnieston
  • Possil
  • Castle Douglas
  • Clarkston
  • Dumbarton
  • Dunblane/Bridge of Allan
  • Edinburgh
  • Helensburgh
  • Peebles
  • Tannochside/Uddingston
  • Stepps/Moodiesburn

MP and MSP step up Wi-Fi battle

PRESSURE is growing to bring the region's only West Coast main line train stop fully into the internet age.

 

MINDELL - LOCKERBIE STATION

Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell and constituency MSP Oliver Mundell are both campaigning to have Wi-Fi installed at Lockerbie Station.

The local parliamentarians are lobbying rail chiefs and train operators on behalf of constituents who cannot connect online whilst waiting for trains.

 

 

David Mundell said: "After all the train and timetable issues experienced at Lockerbie since last year, the least that should be done is for all the organisations involved with the station to get together and plug this glaring gap.

"Passenger numbers have been growing at Lockerbie for years and yet it remains one of only a few main line stations without what is a facility expected by most passengers in 2020."

 

Mr Mundell has raised the issue during a video meeting with ScotRail, which manages the station, but they admitted they had no current plans to install Wi-Fi at Lockerbie.

 

In a written response, the company's Paul McKay, said: "Existing locations where there is customer Wi-Fi were decided jointly with Transport Scotland based on factors including footfall and occurrence of major events."

He also pointed out that Scotrail did not operate any direct train services to and from Lockerbie.

The MP has now written to Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government transport agency, asking them to help facilitate Wi-Fi at the station, which is owned by the infrastructure body Network Rail.

 

Meanwhile, the issue is set to be raised as a Parliamentary Question at Holyrood by MSP Oliver Mundell.

He said: "Lockerbie is being accessed by passengers from much of the region to join faster city and other services.

"Stations such as Dumfries have Wi-Fi but, it seems, like with other improvements, Lockerbie Station users have to campaign long and hard to secure them."

PRESSURE is growing to bring the region's only West Coast main line train stop fully into the internet age.

 

Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell and constituency MSP Oliver Mundell are both campaigning to have Wi-Fi installed at Lockerbie Station.

 

The local parliamentarians are lobbying rail chiefs and train operators on behalf of constituents who cannot connect online whilst waiting for trains.

 

David Mundell said: "After all the train and timetable issues experienced at Lockerbie since last year, the least that should be done is for all the organisations involved with the station to get together and plug this glaring gap.

 

"Passenger numbers have been growing at Lockerbie for years and yet it remains one of only a few main line stations without what is a facility expected by most passengers in 2020."

 

Mr Mundell has raised the issue during a video meeting with ScotRail, which manages the station, but they admitted they had no current plans to install Wi-Fi at Lockerbie.

 

In a written response, the company's Paul McKay, said: "Existing locations where there is customer Wi-Fi were decided jointly with Transport Scotland based on factors including footfall and occurrence of major events."

 

He also pointed out that Scotrail did not operate any direct train services to and from Lockerbie.

 

The MP has now written to Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government transport agency, asking them to help facilitate Wi-Fi at the station, which is owned by the infrastructure body Network Rail.

 

Meanwhile, the issue is set to be raised as a Parliamentary Question at Holyrood by MSP Oliver Mundell.

 

He said: "Lockerbie is being accessed by passengers from much of the region to join faster city and other services.

 

"Stations such as Dumfries have Wi-Fi but, it seems, like with other improvements, Lockerbie Station users have to campaign long and hard to secure them."

Report published exploring ‘experiential tourism’ opportunities in Galloway

The buzzword in tourism circles in recent years has been the search for authentic ‘experiential’ tourism opportunities. ‘Experiential tourism’, also known as ‘immersion travel’, allows people to focus on a place by meaningfully engaging with its heritage, people or other special characteristics.

 

People outside in Galloway

The Southern Uplands Partnership, using funds from the Galloway Glens Scheme and D&G Leader Programme, has been leading on an innovative ‘Galloway Glens Biosphere Experience’ project, exploring the potential for experiential tourism activities in South-West Scotland. The Galloway Glens project area was chosen as the study area, with its focus on the Ken/Dee Valley, constituting one of the seven river catchments that make up the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.

This innovative project ran from 2018 to March 2020 and was led by a Project Officer, Laura Davidson. Laura worked with a range of businesses up and down the Ken/Dee Valley to explore the potential for experiential ‘packages’ of activities and tourist itineraries that would provide an authentic experience to participants, while also being financially beneficial to host organisations.

This week sees the publishing of the project’s final report exploring the potential for this type of activity in Southern Scotland. The report is available here: https://gallowayglens.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Galloway-Glens-Biosphere-Experience-FINAL-Report-May-2020-Web.pdf.

The report highlights a number of findings:

· The trial events were well received by attendees. In general people liked the small groups, knowledgeable group leaders and the local focus.

· The project has been successful in helping to build working relationships that did not already exist. It is hoped that these networks will continue to function and expand as a legacy of the project.

· There was an increased momentum towards the final six months of the project with more businesses approaching and expressing an interest in being involved. This highlights that there is an enthusiasm within tourism businesses to develop their offering and work together for greater benefit.

· The workshops events running in the last three months of the project proved very popular and all booked up extremely quickly. Sadly, the COVID-19 outbreak meant some of these could not go ahead but they have shown there is demand for these types of activities.

· The project has also been well placed to raise awareness of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere. A number of businesses have signed up as Proud Supporters as a result of the project and are actively talking about the Biosphere in their own marketing activity. This is a key opportunity for businesses to capitalise on a world renowned designation and use it to attract more visitors.

It is hoped that the report will be widely distributed to inform future activities in this sector.

The project was overseen by the Southern Uplands Partnership. Upon publication of the final report, Ed Forrest, Project Manager, said:

“The project has demonstrated that people really are looking for something a bit different these days. Whether it’s the personal services of a guide to show you the best places to experience the regions amazing wildlife or an opportunity to find out how some of our common flora can be used to create medicinal tinctures these type of unique experiences really celebrate the amazing people and environment of our UNESCO Biosphere and will leave people wanting to come back for more.”

The project was one of the 35 proposals supported through the Galloway Glens Scheme, a National lottery Heritage Funded initiative in the Ken/Dee Valley in Dumfries & Galloway. Nick Chisholm, Galloway Glens Project Officer, said:

“Tourism is such an important part of the region’s economy but we are still overlooked by many. This project has sought to explore ways in which we can promote the Galloway uniqueness that all of us who live here know well. This report is a great starting point that can be used by other initiatives, such as work taking place around Loch Ken, to both improve our offering and enable us to make more people aware of our special place. We are in a really difficult period but if the region is to recover from the economic damage that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, then approaches like that trialled in this project will be essential”

McNabb Laurie, the Galloway Glens Team Leader added:

Last week saw the investment announced into the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA). The publishing of this experiential tourism report is therefore perfectly timed as it allows discussion to take place of what type of activity could be supported as we hopefully now look to build a post Covid-19 tourism sector. There is an opportunity to focus on authentic, high quality and sustainable tourism experiences which actually deliver the most benefit for the environment and people of our region. Many thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their ongoing support.

The Galloway Glens Scheme have produced a video filmed at one of the workshops exploring the project further. This can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abeieiKSu6Q

The Galloway Glens Scheme is a suite of projects taking place up and down the Ken/Dee valley in Dumfries & Galloway seeking to connect people to their heritage, while boosting the local economy and supporting sustainable communities. It is a partnership of the public and private sectors, supported primarily by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. For more details about the scheme or the projects supported, please visit www.gallowayglens.org.