The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Forging a North Channel Partnership

Dumfries and Galloway Council are currently working with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on reinvigorating the North Channel Partnership. This Partnership was originally established in 1999 by grouping key public and private interests on both sides of the Irish Sea. The main aim at that time was to secure an adequate strategy and investment programme for the land-based ferry links to the ports of Cairnryan, Belfast and Larne.


MEA Council Group

Members of the Council’s Economy and resources Committee will hear a report on the potential to re-establish this Partnership at their meeting on 19th November. They will also be asked to agree to the terms of reference for the proposed Partnership.

Work has already started to prepare a joint Action Plan. The proposed role of the North Channel Partnership will be to:

  • adopt strategic policy and lobbying positions on projects of mutual interest to both Councils
  • work jointly on shared economic, tourism, heritage and cultural projects whic provide defined and measured benefits for the respective areas
  • identify and attract funding for joint projects which positively impact on the economy of both regions
  • strengthen the historic links and strong relationships between the respective Council regions
  • share best practice on the development of policy, the economy, tourism culture and heritage
  • identify and prioritise those activities which can create an immediate positive impact on the economy
  • raise the economic profile of both regions

Chair of E&R, Rob Davidson said: “In light of Brexit, and building on areas of mutual interest, we believe that there is significant scope for collaboration. We have already met and carried out some scoping work which has identified common challenges and opportunities and where there is the potential for joint working on Economic Development projects. In particular we have already identified areas where we can ‘kick start’ projects, such as ports, infrastructure and roads, food and drink, digital and tourism, and we look forward to working with our neighbours in Northern Ireland on these.”

Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “Both Councils have a shared focus on a wide range of areas and activities. Mid and East Antrim have already undertaken initial lobbying which supports our Council’s position on the A77 and A75 trunk roads with both the UK and Scottish Governments. Hopefully this is just the start of our mutually beneficial collaboration.”


The Royal Burgh of Dumfries Tattoo is a biennial event that has been running since 2012.  As a result of a new partnership with The Crichton Trust, organisers of the Dumfries Tattoo have this week announced their decision to host the 2020 event in the beautiful grounds of The Crichton in Dumfries.




The event will take place on Saturday 25th April 2020 at 6pm on the ground adjacent to the Crichton Memorial Church.

Over its 8 year history, the Tattoo has continued to attract high quality pipe bands and performers from far and wide to entertain their audience in Dumfries.   Work is well underway with preparations for the 2020 event. The line-up so far includes everything from the Police Scotland Pipe Band to the Dumfries Pipe Band, a range of traditional and modern dance groups and other artists including the highly acclaimed Robyn Stapleton, BBC Radio Traditional Young Musician of the Year in 2014.

Stuart Robb, Chair of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries Tattoo said: “We are excited to be hosting The Royal Burgh of Dumfries Tattoo at The Crichton in 2020 and to be working together with The Crichton Trust and our other partners and funders to make the Tattoo bigger and better. The Tattoo can be enjoyed by people of all ages and we are delighted to say that the 2 hour performance will be packed full of world-class acts. We hope the local community will come and join us at The Crichton on the 25th April 2020.” 

Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust said: “We are looking forward to the Royal Burgh of Dumfries Tattoo taking place at The Crichton in 2020 and in providing a warm Crichton welcome to everyone involved in the event.  It is great to see more event organisers making use of the beautiful grounds and facilities we have here and to be able to support the expanding range of events and cultural experiences available for local residents and visitors to enjoy in Dumfries & Galloway. ”

Tickets for the Tattoo would make an ideal stocking filler and are now on sale online and at the Midsteeple Box Office and at the VisitScotland iCentre in Dumfries. Tickets will be available from early November in other locations throughout the region.  Tickets £12 / Family Ticket £30 (2 adults / 2 children).

For the latest information about the event and where to purchase tickets please follow the Royal Burgh of Dumfries on Facebook or visit What’s On at

Anyone interested in supporting or sponsoring the event or advertising in the programme is invited to contact 07967630253 to register their interest


A nursery manager from Castle Douglas whose partnership with an elderly care home is proving beneficial for both age groups; and a café which has partnered with Dumfries & Galloway College to provide unique learning opportunities for young people with additional support needs, are in the running for a prestigious prize at this year’s Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Star Awards.



Enabling young people with ASN to gain qualifications in a supportive environment was the goal of a partnership between Dumfries & Galloway College and social enterprise café The Usual Place (TUP). In achieving this, these SQA Star Awards Partnership of the Year finalists are challenging stereotypes of what young people with ASN are capable of.

An idea by Personal Development Award (PDA) in Childhood Practice student Catherine Schlag has resulted in a highly successful scheme in which nursery children have weekly visits to a local elderly care home. With both age groups benefiting, Catherine has been shortlisted in the Training Organisation Candidate of the Year category.

The SQA Star Awards recognise the achievements of individuals working towards SQA qualifications as well as the schools, colleges, training providers and employers who help to deliver SQA qualifications — that enable learners to achieve their ambitions.

At Dumfries-based The Usual Place, the young people are involved in all aspects of the day-to-day running of the café. Whilst gaining important life skills, they are also working towards Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in subjects including Professional Cookery, and Hospitality Services. They are able to do so because The Usual Place and Dumfries & Galloway College created resources to make the SVQs accessible for people with ASN.

The result is that young people who may otherwise have felt isolated and excluded from education, are contributing to their local community, and are progressing to employment or further education.

Whilst working in a nursery and undertaking her studies with Step-Up Training – both based in Castle Douglas, Dumfries – Catherine explored the benefits of different generations spending time with each other. With this is mind, she contacted a local elderly care home proposing that the nursery children establish a weekly visit. The result has been some wonderful relationships formed between the youngsters and elderly residents.

Catherine says that the children talk excitedly about their visits, and that the experience has shown her how rewarding community partnerships can be.

All the Dumfries finalists have been invited to join the other finalists for a spectacular ceremony at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow on Friday 15 November.

They will be recognised for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the success stories that have taken place within Scottish education and training over the past 12 months.

In all, thirteen awards will be presented on the night for categories including School Candidate of the Year, SQA Champion, and Lifelong Learning Centre of the Year.

Of all the category winners, two will be chosen to collect SQA’s distinguished “Pride o’ Worth” awards; so named after the SQA motto and taken from Robert Burns’ poem, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”.

SQA will also offer its highest accolade, the SQA Fellowship, to an individual who has made exceptional contributions to education and training in Scotland throughout their career.

SQA Chief Executive, Fiona Robertson, said: “The nominations for this year’s awards reflect the dedication of candidates studying for SQA qualifications, as well as the commitment of teachers, lecturers, and specialists to providing innovative and engaging learning opportunities. The awards will shine a light on inspirational projects taking place in our centres – the schools, colleges, training providers, and employers who deliver our qualifications. I look forward to welcoming our finalists, who will come together from across the country, throughout the UK and beyond, to what promises to be a fantastic evening celebrating some truly remarkable achievements in education.”

The SQA Star Awards will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Kaye Adams and is supported by a number of sponsors, including the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership and Skills Development Scotland.

Shared Mobile Network Plan to End Not Spots


· Moves to cement plans to give high-quality 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025, meaning consumers will get good 4G signal on the go wherever they live, work or travel

· Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan supports deal with UK Mobile Network Operators to provide additional coverage to 280,000 homes and businesses and 16,000km of roads

· New plans for all operators to share phone masts to improve UK coverage is a world first


Poor mobile phone coverage will be a thing of the past as the UK Government champions a £1 billion deal with the mobile phone industry to banish rural not-spots.

The move will bring 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025 and be a huge boost for consumers. More people in rural areas will benefit from the speed and efficiency of services on the go - from booking travel, shopping online or speaking to friends and family.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan is supportive of a £530 million proposal from the UK’s mobile network operators for a Shared Rural Network with the potential for it to be matched by £500 million investment from the UK Government.

This would be a world-first deal with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone investing in a network of new and existing phone masts they would all share. Consumers will be able to rely on their own provider’s network to use their mobile phones wherever they are.

It is part of the Prime Minister’s plan to level up the country with world-class digital infrastructure across the country to make sure homes and businesses are better connected.

Better 4G connectivity will make flexible working easier, boost regional economic growth and close the digital divide that exists across the country. The benefits will be felt across all four nations of the UK with the greatest coverage improvements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

“We are determined to make sure no part of the country is left behind when it comes to mobile connectivity. We are closing in on a deal with the mobile network operators so those living in rural areas will be able to get the fast and reliable mobile coverage they need and deserve.

“Brokering an agreement for mast sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with.

“But it is not yet a done deal and I want to see industry move quickly so we can reach a final agreement early next year.”

Strong competition promotes industry investment in mobile coverage in dense urban areas, but rural areas have fewer potential customers and have not seen the level of investment needed to provide good coverage.

The deal would see all four operators come together to create a new organisation to deliver the Shared Rural Network, in what would be an innovative and unique solution to the persistent problem of poor mobile coverage in the countryside. It would get the maximum use out of existing and new phone masts by allowing all four operators to host equipment on them.

Under the proposal, the four operators will invest £530 million to open up and share existing masts and infrastructure to close almost all partial not-spots - areas where there is currently only coverage from at least one but not all operators. It would also mean additional mobile coverage for 280,000 premises and 16,000 kilometres of roads.

If the operators agree to meet these ambitions on partial not spots, the Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has been clear government will commit up to £500 million of investment to go even further to eliminate total not-spots - those hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.

UK Government-owned mobile infrastructure built as part of the Emergency Services Network will also be made available to all four operators, taking full advantage of government assets. This is expected to contribute to the coverage target by delivering up to an additional 2% of geographic coverage per operator, in some of the most remote, rural locations.

The Shared Rural Network proposal is subject to legal agreement. The UK Government’s ambition is to reach a formal agreement on it early next year.



Alister Jack SOS

Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack warmly welcomed the UK Government's announcement of a £1 billion deal to extend mobile phone coverage to areas with no or little signal.

The Scottish Secretary stated that so-called 'not-spots' in rural areas had been a regular issue raised with him by constituents since he was elected to the seat two years ago.

Mr Jack said: "While we have some of the best scenery in the UK and large areas of sparsely populated countryside, the strength of the mobile signal in some locations has been a genuine hindrance to residents, visitors and particulary small businesses.

"It is an issue I've raised with the Government and I strongly believe this announcement by Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan will be a real game-changer for areas like ours.

"The positive plans for operators to share masts makes a great deal of sense and the commitment to expand 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025 will add a range services to currently digitally disadvantaged areas.

"This is a real boost to everyday life and the rural economy in parts of Dumfries and Galloway."


Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale's MP David Mundell described the deal, as a positive development for remoter parts of his constituency.

Mr Mundell, a long-standing campaigner for improved mobile coverage, hoped the partnership deal between the UK Government and the mobile networks would be signed off soon.

He said: "The £530 million investment from the network operators in a Shared Rural Network will potentially be matched by £500 million investment from the UK Government.

"This extension of 4G coverage to harder to reach areas will help rural businesses, make it easier for those working from home and increase opportunities in sectors such as tourism and agriculture.

"I will be pressing for areas in my constituency with the poorest digital and mobile phone coverage to benefit from this initiative."


Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, said:

“There is no other scheme like this in the world. It will spell an end to annoying mobile ‘not spots’ for hundreds of thousands of people living, working and travelling in the more remote parts of the UK. By working together, we will deliver better coverage while offering more choice for consumers and businesses using far fewer masts.”

Mark Evans, CEO of Telefonica UK (O2), said:

“These proposals represent a step-change in the way that mobile coverage is delivered. They are the most ambitious solution, of all proposals on the table and will ensure that customers across all corners of the UK can access a good connection. By providing a much-needed boost to rural communities, the Shared Rural Network represents a vital step in bridging the digital divide.”

“Mobile has become so much more than the phone in your hand; it’s the glue that powers the UK’s economy and will be a fundamental component of our national success in the years to come.”

David Dyson, CEO of Three UK, said:

“We welcome the Shared Rural Network. It is the best way to enhance mobile connectivity for the 9.3 million living in the UK’s countryside: it brings mobile coverage to more places in the UK and it gives people in rural areas a similar choice as those living in towns and cities.”

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said:

“While EE already has the UK’s largest 4G network, we’re always looking at new ways to efficiently deliver more 4G to areas that are hardest to reach.

“This ambitious proposal combined with critical UK Government support, will remove the key barriers to tackling the tricky not-spot problem, ensuring people and businesses right across the UK get access to the digital connectivity they need, wherever they are.“

Country Land and Business Association Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said:

“We know the countryside has huge potential for job creation and new economic growth, but in order for this to happen we must ensure every community in the country is fully-connected. Today’s news is a big step towards achieving that goal.”

“This announcement will be welcomed by everyone who lives or works in the countryside. We have been hugely frustrated at the lack of progress in improving mobile reception to date, but the legal coverage obligations now put on operators to improve the situation, through the delivery of a Single Rural Network, will ensure demonstrable improvements over the next few years for rural communities.”



Dumfries Larder selected to be part of Small Biz 100

An independent speciality and fine food shop in Dumfries has been selected as one of 100 trail-blazing small businesses in the official count-down to Small Business Saturday, which takes place across the UK on 7 December 2019.

The Dumfries Larder is one of this year's 'Small Biz 100', a selection of small businesses drawn from every corner of the UK that reflect the vibrancy of the UK's 5.6 million small businesses. In the 100 days running up to Small Business Saturday, the campaign will spotlight each of the Small Biz 100, as part of its mission to celebrate small business success and encourage the nation to 'shop local' and support British small businesses.




This year's Small Biz 100 features a range of unique independent businesses each contributing to their communities and offering something different, including The Dumfries Larder, opened in May 2018, by Louise Matheson.

The Dumfries Larder joins hundreds of previous Small Biz 100 businesses, which have been announced by the iconic campaign since its UK launch in 2013.

Day one of the Small Biz 100 count-down kicks off with The Butchers Social, from Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, with The Dumfries Larder being placed in the spotlight on 3 December 2019, where it will be celebrating by offering a free Dumfries & Galloway / Small Biz 100 themed goody bag to the first 50 customers who make a purchase on the day.

Founder of The Dumfries Larder, Louise Matheson, said:

"I am absolutely thrilled that our shop, which specialises in cheeses, and also stocks a range of personally-selected artisan foods and drinks, has been chosen as one of this year's Small Biz 100, following in the footsteps of other fantastic businesses from the region who were Small Biz 100 winners in previous years. I have been so encouraged by the support of local people and visitors to Dumfries who shop with us, and the customer base we have built over the last 15 months; being chosen as a representative for this trailblazing campaign is just more amazing icing on the cake. We are really looking forward to Small Business Saturday on 7 December and to The Dumfries Larder's special day of celebrating, and being celebrated, earlier in that same week, on Tuesday 3 December."

Director of Small Business Saturday, Michelle Ovens MBE said:

"Each year this campaign has grown in support from government, business and communities alike, and so we can't wait to begin the annual 100-day countdown to Small Business Saturday with the launch of the Small Biz 100 2019.

"Small Business Saturday's increasing popularity means it was harder than ever to choose just 100 of this country's incredible 5.6 million small businesses to showcase, but we believe those we have chosen are true representatives of the diverse, creative and inspiring heroes at the heart of our communities."

In its seventh year, Small Business Saturday is the UK's most successful small business campaign, which last year saw an estimated £812 million spent in small businesses across the UK on the day, according to research commissioned by founder and principal supporter American Express.

This was up from the £748 million spent on Small Business Saturday in 2017, with 59% of people aware of the day saying they spent more than usual.

The #SmallBizSatUK campaign trended in the UK top 5 on Twitter on the day, reaching over 100 million people globally.

The Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Mayor of London were among those publicly supporting the campaign, alongside more than 90% of local councils.

Small Business Saturday also benefits from the backing of leading business organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses, Indeed and Dell. The campaign is also supported by Amazon,, Square and Xero.

Small Business Saturday 2019 is open to all businesses to participate in and will commence its regional bus tour roadshow across the UK during the autumn, to drum up further support.