News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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

 

MSP McAlpine Calls on Government to Pay Fair Share of Broadband Costs

SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine MSP has called on the UK Government to cough up their fair share of funding for Broadband and digital infrastructure across Scotland.

The MSP’s comments come after the UK Chancellor’s Broadband funding announcement at the Tory Party Conference on Monday (30/09/19) of a £25 billion investment in infrastructure to include nationwide 5G broadband, revitalised bus services and upgrades to major roads- but Ms. McAlpine says the funding needs to come directly to Scotland and not be risked in a messy ‘bidding war’ that could see Scotland lose out.

 

Joan McAlpine Press Office Submitted Image

 

The Scottish Government received just £21 million funding from the Tory government, despite broadband being a matter reserved to Westminster – meaning it is the responsibility of the UK government. The allocation amounts to just 3.5% of the total funding for broadband in Scotland, with the other £580 million coming from the SNP Government.

Commenting, Joan McAlpine MSP said:

“The UK Government must cough up their fair share of funding for digital infrastructure and broadband across Scotland after continually short-changing Scotland’s communities.

Rural communities face particular challenges installing broadband, and in Scotland we have many more communities which face these geographical challenges.

“It’s time for the Tories to put their money where their mouth is and ensure that they deliver the funding required for digital infrastructure improvements direct to Scotland, and stop forcing the Scottish Government to continue to foot the bill for this matter which is reserved to Westminster.”

TRAIN STATION RE-OPENINGS PROGRESS DOWN THE TRACK

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth and Local Councillors Adam Wilson and Sean Marshall are urging Transport Scotland to progress the applications to potentially re-open Beattock, Eastriggs and Thornhill Train Stations.

The call comes as the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWESTRANs) agreed to submit the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) 2 reports which were carried out in the last financial year to Transport Scotland.

The STAG 2 Reports led to options being produced for improved transport connectivity for Beattock and Moffat, Eastriggs and Thornhill individually. A number of options are proposed but it is highlighted in the reports that re-opening the stations would improve direct public transport connectivity to the Central Belt, Dumfries and Carlisle.

The SWESTRANS Board agreed to submit the STAG appraisals for the Station Re-openings to Transport Scotland to conclude the pre-pipeline process which all rail infrastructure work bids have to complete. If the bids are successful at this stage then they will progress onto the pipleline which will lead to an outline business case and final business case being developed before a final decision is taken to progress the Station re-opening bids.

Dumfries and Galloway Council have a commitment to campaign and work with Transport Scotland and Network Rail to see the re-opening of all three of the Stations. The Re-opening of the three Stations also features South West Scotland Transport Study (SWSTS) which is currently being carried out by Transport Scotland.

Local Labour politicians Colin Smyth, Adam Wilson and Sean Marshall believe that Transport Scotland should progress the Station re-opening applications to the pipeline process.

Colin Smyth MSP, Chair of the Eastriggs Action Group said, “A clear case has been made by communities in Eastriggs, Thornhill, Beattock and Moffat for these Stations to be re-opened to improve the connectivity of their communities. Re-opening the Stations would provide improved access to training and employment for our young people and provide increased opportunities for connectivity within and out with the region.

Infrastructure decisions such as Station re-openings are often made on the basis of cost-benefits analysis. However, it is well known that in rural areas a cost-benefit analysis result can not compete with a result for a similar project in the Central Belt with a larger population. Transport Scotland must consider the huge opportunity that re-opening these Stations could have for local communities, to grow our local community and to respond to the climate emergency by encouraging people to use public transport.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, whose Annandale North ward covers Beattock said, “The Beattock Station Action Group have campaigned for many years to get to this point. The Group have secured land adjacent to the railway line to allow for supporting infrastructure to be put in place. I am pleased that the SWESTRANs board have submitted the STAG report to Transport Scotland and urge them to seriously consider the benefit it could bring to the community and our economy.”

Councillor Sean Marshall, whose Annandale South ward covers Eastriggs said, “I have campaigned for a Railway Station since becoming a Councillor and it is the number one priority for the people of Eastriggs.  SWESTRANS have submitted the case  to Transport Scotland which is a significant step forward. If a new station becomes a reality it will the largest single factor in opening up economic, educational and social opportunities for the people of Eastriggs and surrounding area.”

MSP McAlpine is Encouraging Farmers to Have Their Say on Animal Welfare

South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging farmers in Dumfries and Galloway to have their say on animal health legislation for Livestock.

 

Joan McAlpine Press Office Submitted Image

 

Announced as part of the Programme for Government, a consultation is now underway on proposals to introduce fixed penalty notices for certain animal health offences, similar to those which are proposed for animal welfare offences. 

At the same time, views are also being sought on how the Animal Health Act 1981 might be strengthened, updated and modernised, including on whether current powers are sufficient to continue preventing serious diseases in livestock.

Joan McAlpine MSP said:

“The Scottish government is committed to the highest welfare standards for all animals, and in recent years has been successful at preventing serious diseases affecting our livestock in large numbers – for this to continue, we need to make sure that the right approach is in place.

“The Animal Health Act is now almost 40 years old, and a review would help to keep Scotland’s animal welfare legislation at the cutting edge of best practice, and especially to ensure that we can continue to keep pace with EU standards and regulations.

“I would encourage all invested parties to have their say as part of this consultation in order to make sure that our approach to animal welfare is sustainable, fair, and takes into account the best interests of Livestock in Scotland’s rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway.”

Book Festival Praised for the Economic ‘Boom’ it Brings to Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack and his wife Ann visited the Wigtown Book Festival and congratulated its organisers on the benefits they are bringing to the region.

During his visit Artistic Director Adrian Turpin and Operational Director Anne Barclay showed him round the festival venues.

Mr Jack said: “It’s wonderful to visit the Wigtown Book Festival, it’s so impressive to see it's growing year on year. It brings such an economic boom not just to Wigtown but to the whole region. It’s just a pleasure to see the way it is going from strength to strength.”

Last year the festival generated £3.75 million for the regional economy and its events attracted an audience of 29,000.

Mr Turpin said: “The festival has grown to become a real success story for the region, attracting visitors from around the world and generating income for business of all kind including shops, restaurants and hotels.

“And these days it has developed in all sorts of new directions so people can come here for film, visual arts, crafts, music, theatre and live comedy.

“But books, literature and the written word are still very much at the heart of the festival and this year we have been particularly proud to have held events, aimed at adults and at children, that have encouraged a love of stories and storytelling not just in English but also in Scots and Gaelic.

“We are already looking ahead to 2020 and beginning to plan another festival full of fascinating guests and celebrating the best writing and writers from Scotland and far beyond.”

This year’s festival, from 27 September to 6 October, welcomed a host of speakers and special guests – among them a group of more than 50 refugee women and children who are living in Glasgow after escaping countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Others include former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson and ex-Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson MSP.

Among the many authors and at the 21st annual festival have been Kirsty Wark, Denise Mina, Jackie Morris, Carol Drinkwater, Shaun Bythell and Sinead Gleeson.

Ruth Davidson Unlikely To Stand Again But Hints At Openness To ‘No’ Role In Indyref2

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP has confirmed that she is very unlikely to stand at the next election but may be open to “No” role in a second independence referendum.

 

Ruth_Davidson_02.jpeg

( Image credit: Ruari Barber-Fleming for Wigtown Book Festival)

In a wide-ranging talk at the Wigtown Book Festival she also said that she believed that the public would soon demand higher standards of public debate.

Asked if she worried about the tone of public discourse – especially on social media - she said: “Yes, I do. I personally think that it will self-right. I think there comes a point where the public of this country will be so disgusted that they will demand better.”

She went on to tell event chair Sarah Smith that she left her leadership job because she was “hopelessly conflicted by Brexit” and also wanted to spend more time being a mum.

While saying that it was true that she and Boris Johnson were “not buddy, buddy pals” she did not leave due to disagreements with him.

Turning to the issue of a future second Scottish independence referendum – she said that she hoped there would not be one. 

Asked if she would consider leading any future equivalent of Better Together Ms Davidson said: “Look, I hope there won’t be a next time … I will do what I can to stop that happening, but if it is happening there is absolutely no way that I am going to sit it out. 

“This is my country it’s what I’ve fought for, it’s what I believe in. And whether anyone wants me to hold a position or whether they want me to go round, knock doors and hand out leaflets, I’m happy doing both.”

She added: “I’ve just left a big job, I’m not angling for another, I could be yesterday’s news a week on Tuesday. I’m not going to pretend that I would be best the person for the job, if it ever happens, in ten or 15 years time, but if people want a hand then I’ll help.”

After saying that she is unsure what direction her career will take in future, it may be in business or charity, Ms Davidson added that she “was gainfully employed until May 2021”.

Asked if this meant she would not be standing for the Scottish Parliament again she said: “It’s a fairly open secret that I think I’m going to see out my term … I’m giving myself the option to change my mind but I don’t think that I will stand again.” 

Ruth Davidson was speaking at a sold out event taking place in the Festival Marquee and was followed by a book signing of Yes She Can, a book in which she interviewed inspirational women about their lives and work.