The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Back local businesses to push recovery, urges MP

A RALLYING call has gone out to support south-west Scotland retailers and other businesses.


Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack this week urged residents and visitors alike to use local shops and services as the region cautiously edges out of lockdown.


The Scottish Secretary was voicing his support for the 'Scotland Loves Local' campaign which was officially launched.



He said using local businesses was a good way to boosting the local economy after the damaging impact of Covid-19 and to help protect employment.


Mr Jack said: "In this constituency it is not purely about supporting businesses in the larger retail-orientated town centres such as Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright, Newton Stewart and Stranraer although that will be vital to their future.


"It is also using as much as possible the excellent shops and services in smaller towns and villages which help contribute to community life and the area's economic well-being."


Mr Jack stated that in Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland there was unprecedented support from the UK Government through the furlough and schemes for the self-employed.


He said: "Local people and businesses also benefit from UK-wide support such as the tourism VAT cut, company loans, VAT deferral and Universal Credit.


"Nationally young people are being helped into jobs and an Eat Out incentive scheme will promote tourism and hospitality.


"Meanwhile, the UK Government will also allocate an additional £4.6 billion to Scotland through the Barnett Formula for the devolved administration at Holyrood to spend."


The Scotland Loves Local campaign is organised by a partnership and primarily aimed at getting town centres and high streets back on their feet safely, closely observing public health guidelines.


Cocoabean delighted to receive £150k through South of Scotland Enterprise Funding

Dumfries & Galloway based company Cocoabean have received a major boost with grant funding being awarded through South of Scotland Enterprise totalling £150k.


Support available through Covid funds specifically helps support businesses that have been negatively affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


Russel Griggs 

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE said: “We have been working very closely with Cocoabean for a number of weeks now, so we are delighted to make this award and help them on the journey ahead. The company is an integral and inclusive part of the local economy in Twynholm and throughout the region, attracting some 150k visitors every year. Cocoabean are pivotal to the economic infrastructure to the South of Scotland, and we look forward to working closely with them as they plan their future.”


Cocoabean Company Director Claire Beck said: “We are delighted to receive the positive news of the new funds. We are a small, family run business who relies heavily on visitors during school holidays and at weekends, so the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit us hard, and we were really struggling. Receiving this significant amount of money is going to be a lifeline to our company and help us retain 25 full time jobs in Twynholm. We are really grateful for all the support and advice we have received from South of Scotland Enterprise and look forward to working closely with them as our business moves forward.”



Emma Harper South Scotland MSP said;

“I’m delighted that a successful outcome has been reached for Cocoabean who are a well- established local company, following my intervention to help the staff and management who I contacted upon hearing of the major challenges their business was facing.


“The company have since been able to liaise with the new South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE) who have been assisting many local businesses across Dumfries & Galloway during this hugely challenging time, since they started operations on April 1st this year.


“It’s good news that by working in partnership we have been able to engage and effectively support Cocoabean ,which is a hugely valued company enjoyed by both locals and visitors to the region. Protecting valuable jobs in our rural part of Scotland is essential.”

Billy Predicts Bright Future For Colleges

An essay by a senior member of Dumfries and Galloway College staff has been published in a collection outlining the bright future of UK colleges.

People, productivity and place: a new vision for colleges is a bold new vision that sets out the way forward for colleges across the UK over the next decade and details the changes that will be needed to achieve it.

Head of Corporate Services at Dumfries and Galloway College, Billy Currie, has an article in the collection in which he draws on his experience in the private energy sector to present a bold set of proposals for how colleges can help in the fight against climate change.

In his essay, Billy pulls together the successes that the South of Scotland college has enjoyed in this important area along with key themes of education, innovation, day-to-day operations, and funding to show how colleges can be part of the effort.

He also stresses the importance of collaboration between all sectors to tackle climate change and drive a green recovery out of the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

People, productivity and place: a new vision for colleges has been curated by the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, led by the UK’s National Statistician, Ian Diamond, and featuring expert guidance from General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, former Head of the UK Government Civil Service, Bob Kerslake, and former Chief Executive of UCAS, Mary Curnock Cook OBE.

The report has also been accompanied by an explanatory video.

Dumfries and Galloway College has been a leading voice in the technological and strategic response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, using its wealth of skills, resources, and expertise to keep learning and teaching going through the challenging period and leading the way towards returning to campus-based learning.

The college has also been a key player in the fight against climate change in the region, with its state-of-the-art renewables hub and other tools working constantly to develop new strategies and ways of thinking aimed at creating solutions to the climate emergency.


Head of Corporate Services, Billy Currie, said:

“I was very happy to be asked to be part of this innovative, ambitious, and optimistic piece of work.


“Our college has been a leading light in this area and we’re delighted to share our experience and insight with our valued partners and stakeholders across our sector and beyond.

“Colleges are uniquely placed to play a fundamental role as the UK takes on the climate change challenge and Dumfries and Galloway College will play our part enthusiastically.”


DGCollege Joanna-Campbell 

Principal Joanna Campbell said:“I am delighted to welcome the publication of this insightful and forward-thinking report and the recommendations it contains.

“Billy is a leading expert in this area and his contribution represents a valuable additional dimension to the report.

“Climate change, and the future of the UK’s colleges with which it is intertwined, is a big challenge but I’m confident that with voices like Billy’s we have the ability and drive to meet it.”

Brexit Costs Each D&G Resident £370

Following the Prime Minister's visit to Scotland, South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has highlighted a report which found that people in Dumfries and Galloway have already been left £370 per head per year worse off as a result of Boris Johnson’s Brexit.

The new analysis, published from experts at Warwick University, found that nationally Scotland is now £3.9 billion worse off thanks to Brexit and has already lost £736 per head of population.

Separately, Scottish Government analysis has revealed that ending the EU Exit transition period in December 2020 could cut £3billion from the Scottish economy in just two years - on top of the impact of coronavirus.


Emma Harper MSP

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“This new analysis makes clear that any form of Brexit will inflict major harm on Scotland’s economy – with people in Dumfries & Galloway having already been left worse off as a result of Boris Johnson’s Brexit.

“The Brexiteers in the UK Government want to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will. Given that the UK Government recently voted in the House of Commons against protecting our NHS and against protecting our farmers from a US trade deal which would see our standards of food safety and animals welfare lowered, In the middle of a global pandemic, Brexit is the last thing our economy needs.

"With Westminster’s intend to damage Scotland’s economy, it's clearer than ever that the only way to protect Scotland's interests and our place in Europe is to become an independent country."


MSPs Emma Harper (South Scotland), Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) and Joan McAlpine (South Scotland) have written a joint letter to both the Chief Executives of Transport Scotland and Highways England. This letter requests that electronic signage on the main cross-border arterial routes have clear and succinct messaging on the COVID-19 advice in Scotland and England.


Emma Harper MSP Joan McAlpine MSP

In particular, the SNP MSPs have pointed to the divergence between the UK and Scottish Governments in recent weeks and have stated that the Scottish Government have a clear route-map for easing Scotland out of the lockdown restrictions in line with the public health and evidence based approaches. The MSPs are keen to help raise awareness of cross-border differences in easement of lockdown.

Ms Harper, Ms McAlpine and Ms Graeme have cited their constituents’ views and concerns that many people who are coming to visit Scotland from other parts of the UK are not necessarily familiar with the differences in the COVID-19 restrictions between the two nations which has caused some confusion and even animosity with local businesses and residents.

While the three MSPs absolutely welcome and support visitors to the region, they are keen to ensure that people are aware of the different approaches that  Scotland and England are taking as part of a four nation approach and that Scotland is easing lockdown restrictions in a careful cautious way, taking its own and independent approach to tackling this pandemic and therefore believe that road signs on cross-border connecting roads will be an additional helpful solution.

Commenting, Ms Harper, Ms McAlpine and Ms Graeme said:

“While we absolutely support people coming to visit South Scotland – world-renowned for its tourism business, its attractions and its beautiful scenery – we want to ensure that people enjoy the area safely and understand that in Scotland we have our own approach to easing the COVID-19 restrictions, which differs from the approach taken by other parts of the UK. To this end, we have jointly written to the Chief Executives of Transport Scotland and Highways England to request that electronic road signage on cross-border routes between the two nations reflect the differences in COVID-19 restrictions.

“Scotland has made excellent progress towards stopping the spread of COVID-19, and now as we are starting to see more of our tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses open, we want to ensure this good progress continues. One way to inform people is by ensuring that everyone is aware of the measures which are in place in Scotland, as they head north, and England as they head south, which we encourage everyone to follow.

“We look forward to hearing back from both Transport Scotland and Highways England soon.”