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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.

 

Council Wants Improved Transport Infrastructure

The Council’s Communities committee [17 September 2019] will consider a report on the initial appraisal for the South West Scotland Transport Study.

The Council Plan 2017-22 includes a commitment to ‘invest in our key infrastructure’ and ‘lobby for investment in key local transport infrastructure including dualling, where appropriate, of the A75, A76, A77, A7 and a better link between Dumfries and the M74’.

The Scottish Government included a commitment to a second Strategic Transport Projects Review [STPR2] and road improvements in Dumfries in Galloway in its Programme for Government 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Data analysis and public/stakeholder engagement in the first stage in the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance [STAG] process, researching the case for investment, has identified evidence of key transport problems:
• Average journey times
• Mobility
• Journey time reliability
• Environmental impact

These findings have informed Transport Planning Objectives [TPOs] for South West Scotland:
• reduce journey times to the ports at Cairnryan
• reduce accident rates and the severity of accidents on the trunk road network
• improve the resilience of the strategic transport network
• improve journey quality across the road, public transport, and active travel networks
• improve connectivity for communities to key economic, education, health and cultural centres, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayr, Kilmarnock and Carlisle

Subsequently, a range of 23 option packages have been identified for further appraisal.

The next step is a qualitative options appraisal, assessing impacts, policy directives, feasibility, affordability, and public acceptability.

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “Building the local economy is a priority for our Council. For too long, South West Scotland has been overlooked when it comes to investment in transport infrastructure. If our region is to progress, thrive and prosper, it’s essential that we get our fair share of investment.”

Councillor John Martin, vice-chair, said: “Good transport links are essential for this region. Businesses and the public deserve better than some of the very poor transport links in our region. It is vital that we’re given the resources to improve transport links to Ireland, England and the Scottish central belt, otherwise we’ll be increasingly marginalised.”

See report: https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=4503

DG1 Exceeds Expectations Says New Council Report

The Council’s Communities committee [17 September 2019] will consider a report outlining the success of DG1 in its first month of operation.

DG1 has had more than 53,000 attendances, customer satisfaction is 95%, and memberships have increased by 97%.

DG1 opened to the public on 15 July 2019, and during the first month of operation, attendances were:
Leisure pool 5,274
Main/teaching pool 17,500
Health suite 2,600
Fitness suite 20,600
Fitness classes 4,751
Sports hall 3,050

Memberships have increased by 901 [97%].

The leisure water was exceptionally popular during the school summer holiday.

Demand for fitness classes is been high at what is normally a quieter period of the year for indoor fitness activity.

Customer feedback through the Have Your Say scheme indicates that:
95% of respondents would recommend the facility to a friend
91% are delighted with activity quality
82% are delighted with staff welcome
95% are delighted with staff friendliness
92% are delighted with staff approachability

DG1 now has an on-line booking system for club members, enabling them to book fitness classes on-line.

On-line booking for activities is now being extended so than non-members can book on-line for the likes of leisure water sessions and other activities.

Also being introduced will be self-service fast track kiosks, enabling customers to pay for activities without having to interact with staff.

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the performance figures and customer satisfaction for DG1. The vindicate our Council in its decision to take the long haul to deliver the first-class leisure facility that the people of Dumfries and Galloway deserve.”

Councillor John Martin, vice-chair, said: “Now that we’re delivered a first-class leisure facility, it’s hugely pleasing to see how well that it is being used and that people think highly of it. It will be a major asset for the region for many years to come.”

See report: https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=4503

Scotland’s Native Oyster Season Opens as Countdown to Oyster Festival Continues

Scotland’s native oyster season opened yesterday, Sunday 1st September, with the landing of the first Loch Ryan oysters of the season. Famously native oysters can only be harvested in months with an ‘R’ in them, avoiding the summer breeding season. 

A two week race is now on to gather a tonne of native oysters, approx. 10,000, most of which will be enjoyed by the thousands of visitors travelling to Stranrarer Oyster Festival, taking place from 13-15 September.  However, Scotland’s native oyster fishermen will return 95% of all the oysters they catch back to the sea to help Loch Ryan’s precious native oyster bed to grow.

 

Former footballer, Allan Jenkins, now Project Manager for Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation that runs the oyster festival, landed the first catch of the season.  He commented:

“It was fantastic to be out on the Vital Spark oyster boat at the start of the native oyster season, and to get a personal oyster fishing lesson direct from Scotland’s native oyster experts. The story of these oysters is just fascinating, and it’s great to hear they’re in such high demand in some of the world’s top restaurants.

“Before Stranraer Oyster Festival started three years ago it was almost impossible to find these in Scotland. A big part of Stranraer Oyster Festival is about making our iconic local produce accessible to local people and visitors alike, and we are once again looking forward to introducing more people to native oysters in just over a week’s time.” 

Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, said:

“We are delighted to work closely with Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery who have supported Stranraer Oyster Festival from the very first spark of an idea into what has now become one of Scotland’s most exciting food festivals. 

“It is a privilege for the festival team to be involved in landing the first native oysters of the season. As we put the finishing touches to this year’s remarkable oyster festival it’s a real honour to spend a few hours on the Vital Spark experiencing the beauty and the majesty of this loch and learning more about the precious oysters hidden beneath its waters. They truly are the jewels in Stranraer’s crown and we are looking forward to sharing them with visitors to Stranraer Oyster Festival.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival is a 3 day celebration of the town’s native oyster heritage, making Scottish native oysters accessible and available for local people and visitors to experience. The coastal food festival programme is headlined by Scotland’s spice king Tony Singh. The packed programme of events includes the #ShuckOff, where more than a dozen of Scotland’s top seafood chefs will compete to be named Scottish Oyster Shucking Champion. There’s also a host of cookery and cocktail demonstrations, live music, artisan produce and family activities; including the harbour-side Extreme Pond Dipping challenge, where children can explore creatures found at the bottom of Loch Ryan.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion, said:

“Dumfries and Galloway Council is delighted to support the third Oyster Festival. The Festival’s success over the last few years has been thanks to the Development Trust, many volunteers and the local community. This year’s Festival once again will celebrate Loch Ryan, our local food and drink industry and provide a huge economic boost for Stranraer and the wider Wigtownshire area.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:

“EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Stranraer Oyster Festival again through our National Events Programme, showcasing the town’s native oyster heritage. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and the festival will undoubtedly prove popular with visitors and locals alike who will get the chance to sample some of Scotland’s best seafood as well as enjoy a fantastic programme of cookery demonstrations, live music and children’s activities.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival is part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, the two week promotion of Scottish produce which launched yesterday.  The festival includes a celebration of local and regional artisan produce, which has been supported by Connect Local’s Regional Food Fund. 

Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place on 13-15th September 2019 and tickets are already selling fast.  The exclusive An Evening with Tony Singh event has already sold out, and only a few  tickets remain for the Big Oyster Bash. People wanting to attend Tony Singh’s cookery demos are advised to book early. The full programme can be downloaded from www.stranraeroysterfestival.com 

MP Helps Secure Farm Funding Boost

A funding boost for Scottish agriculture will bring extra support to rural Dumfries and Galloway.

Scottish Secretary and local MP Alister Jack, who held discussions with farmers at the recent Stranraer Show, believes part of the £160 million package could benefit struggling farms in upland areas.

Chancellor Sajid Javid confirmed the convergence money would be allocated to the agricultural industry north of the border while giving the UK Government spending review on Wednesday.

Alister Jack SOSMr Jack pressed for the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding to be delivered to Scotland after taking up the issue for constituents shortly after being elected with then UK Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove.

The funding, originally drawn from the EU Multi-annual Financial Framework programme, was aimed at redistributing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments more equitably across member countries.

And the UK qualified for the uplift because Scotland's per hectare rate is only 45 per cent of the EU average.  England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all above the 90 per cent qualifying threshold.

Mr Jack confirmed that the distribution of the funding would be handed over to the Scottish Government who have devolved responsibility over many areas of agriculture.

He said: "I'm pleased to have played a part in ensuring this funding comes to Scotland. It has been a bone of contention in parts of the industry for some time.

"I anticipate amongst the sectors that will benefit will be the upland sheep farms where support is essential on the less productive hill land. 

"My hope is some of this will eventually filter through helping support jobs in the wider rural supply chain."

Allocations Set For Agreement With Town Centre Living Fund

At the inaugural meeting of the Council’s Economy and Resources (E&R) Committee (12 Sept) Members will be asked to agree to a number of allocations from the Town Centre Living Fund 2019/20.

Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed to put in place a £1m Town Centre Living Fund in February 2019. This local initiative has been widely recognised as delivering a variety of positive regeneration projects across the region, making the best of the additional income generated by Council Tax on second homes

The allocations which are being put forward for recommendation include:

An additional £24,065 from Council Tax on second homes income to the Town Centre Living Fund to support the development of new housing development projects.

The allocation of £160,000 to Cunninghame Housing Association to enable re-development of the former Lockerbie Academy Site.

The allocation of £77,865 to Cunninghame Housing Association to carry out a feasibility study in relation to the creation of a community facility in the Grade B Listed Albert Hall in Annan.

The allocation of £144,000 to Loreburn Housing Association which will enhance the affordable housing development at the former Garrick Hospital site in Stranraer.

The allocation of £142,200 to Loreburn Housing Association to support the affordable housing development at the former Scottish Power yard at Brooms Road, Dumfries.

The allocation of £120,000 to provide empty homes grant funding to bring back the Grade B Listed building at 93 Irish Street, Dumfries to bring it back into use as 6 flats.

Chair of E&R, Rob Davidson said: “Providing members agree, these are exactly the type of projects our £1m Town Centre Living Fund was set up for. We need housing development such as these projects to support the regeneration of our town centres, attracting more people to live centrally, bringing extra income into our town centre businesses. These are prime sites which should provide modern affordable living accommodation for single people or families, revitalising the heart of our towns.”

Archie DryburghVice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “Economic regeneration in our town centres is vital, but it has to start from a source, and the best starting point is allowing people more choice to live in the centre of town, if that’s what would suit them. The knock-on effect will be more vibrant areas with shops, cafes, bars, social and community enterprises, leisure, culture and a boost to our tourism.”

The full report can be viewed at:

https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=551&MId=4834