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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.

 

Dumfries & Galloway B&B achieves 5-Star QA Award

A Galloway country residence has achieved one of the highest quality assurance accolades from the national tourism organisation.

Nithbank Country Estate in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway has achieved the 5-star B&B award on its first grading from VisitScotland.

Secluded in ancient woodland with river frontage and breath-taking views, Nithbank provides a unique experience, combining the personal service of a luxury hotel, with the freedom and privacy of home.

 Melanie Allen collects 5* Award - Pic Included in Press Release - Pete Robinson

Lord Thurso said: Nithbank Country Estate is the perfect example of the quality experience on offer to visitors to Dumfries & Galloway and I would like to extend my congratulations to the entire team on this fantastic achievement.

“Our Quality Assurance scheme helps businesses to reach their full potential and truly shine. The scheme is about more than just the ‘stars’ on the door - it’s about the entire visitor experience, about investing in your business, driving-up quality and creating jobs.

“Delivering a quality experience that meets, and exceeds, visitor expectations is crucial in making Scotland a must-visit, must-return destination.”

Melanie Allen, owner of Nithbank Country Estate, said: “At Nithbank Country Estate we have an authentic story to tell, it all begins with connecting Nithbank to superb local, ethical suppliers and produce. It ends with relaxed, refreshed and recharged guests who are inspired by the wonders of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, for a future visit.”

"We are delighted and honoured to be awarded 5-stars by VisitScotland and thank Lord Thurso for presenting us with the award.”

 

The impressive estate, which is also the only B&B in Dumfries & Galloway to hold a GOLD Award from Green Tourism, is located within the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, and incorporates a number of green standards from home grown fruit to the promotion of sustainable travel.

For more information on Nithbank Country Estate, see here: https://nithbank.co.uk/

 

Chairman Lord John Thurso recently visited Nithbank Country Estate ahead of a meeting of the VisitScotland Board in Dumfries & Galloway.

A number of local tourism representatives attended a stakeholder dinner at The Buccleuch & Queensberry Hotel in Thornhill, including Duncan McConchie, Laggan Outdoor; Dame Barbara Kelly, Peter Pan Moat Brae; Kenny Bowie, President of the Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce and Judith Hewitt from Devils Porridge. Russel Griggs and Rob Dickson, Chair and Interim Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, were also in attendance, ahead of the Board meeting at Moat Brae in Dumfries the following day.

As part of the Engagement Strategy of the VisitScotland Board, meetings are held around the country to meet stakeholders and get a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the tourism industry.

Council Planning for Brexit Continues

In this time of uncertainty, Dumfries and Galloway’s Full Council (26 Sept) will hear a report on our Council’s preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Preparing for Brexit isn’t solely under the remit of this Council and as such they are working in partnership with a number of other Agencies. For example: D&G Citizen Advice Service is coordinating the EU Nationals Support Scheme (though Dumfries and Galloway Council provide the ID verification through the registration service for applicants unable to verify through their mobile device); Transport Scotland is coordinating overflow arrangements at the ports; and Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Business Gateway and Scottish Development International are coordinating Business related work.

DGCouncil Chief Executive, Gavin Stevenson, is Chair of the Scottish Resilience Partnership - Civil Contingencies. This involves Local Authorities, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, HM Coastguard, NHS, Port Health Authorities and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  In addition, the Council’s Resilience and Community Safety Manager has been seconded to the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) to lead and coordinate Scottish Local Authorities management of UKs exit of the EU.

COSLA and Scottish Government are monitoring the national situation and the Council provide updates on risks and concerns. The Council has also established a ’UK Exiting the EU Group’ which meets weekly to discuss emerging issues and plan accordingly.

UK and Scottish Governments provide guidance on the impacts for the first 12 weeks following the UK leaving the EU without a deal. This information has been worked through by Services to understand the potential impacts on our region.  Areas include:

1. Environmental Health - Export of locally produced foodstuffs
2. Import and Exports / Food Supplies / Transport
3. Workforce
5. Returnees
6. Layering of Impacts
7. Demonstrations and Disorder
8. Businesses
9. Economic Downturn
10.EU Funding for the Region

On 1 August 2019 £1.6million was allocated by Scottish Government to Local Authorities to assist with preparations. This Council has been allocated £50k. Feedback from other Local Authorities has indicated that the funding is being used for staffing resources to support the monitoring, planning and managing of the UKs exit.

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray said: “This initial financial support is welcomed; however, the Council will require further financial investments from both the UK and Scottish Governments following an exit without a deal.

The Council, as a member of Dumfries and Galloway Local Resilience Partnership, has made representations to Transport Scotland to request that they take forward the ‘overflow’ contingency plan which would manage the traffic and delays that may be experienced at the ports in Cairnryan, so that disruption to the community is minimal. This would include Transport Scotland’s commitment to finance the implementation costs and to reach agreement with Stena to make the East Pier a suitable location to hold overflow traffic for the ports.”

Depute, Rob Davidson, said “There is nothing set in stone, and we do not have a crystal ball. We are planning for a worst-case scenario on the assumption that the UK leaves the EU without an agreed deal. We are not planning for what will happen, but we need to cover every possible outcome. For example, one possible area of concern has been identified within Environmental Health where the need for Export Health Certification could impact on staffing levels and we are looking ways to address this, should it become a problem.  It is though our thorough, ongoing planning that we have identified issues and are working hard to prepare for all eventualities.

For further details from this Committee report go to: https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s14704/Brexit%20Report%20FINAL.pdf

TSDG Roadshow Support Across The Region

Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway has visited 21 different towns and villages across the region with its support roadshows in eight months.

The free events have also been warmly welcomed by attendees, with very positive feedback.

The roadshows began in December to take the team from Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway (TSDG) out to communities to meet organisations and volunteers on their doorstep.

The locations and subject matter are influenced by a third sector partnership in each of Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale and Annandale and Eskdale. Four every month move around the former districts in the region.Roadshow support across the region

Up until July, 32 roadshows had been delivered with an average of 27 support appointments made each month.

Plus events, which bring in specialists from across Scotland to meet attendees or put on free workshops, have also seen 110 people in attendance. A further 65 appointments have been made for third sector organisations with external funders through the roadshows.

The events have also given partner organisations a chance to get involved with 45 also attending as exhibitors or presenters.

Norma Austin Hart, chief executive officer of TSDG, said: “We are delighted with the response to our roadshows. The feedback tells us that people appreciate our services being brought out to them and in return they are turning up. We evaluate everything we do so the roadshows will continue to meet the sector's needs.”

The formula has been a hit with participants, with 94 per cent rating them as good; rating the help on offer as good (95 per cent); likely to attend a future event (94 per cent); and likely to recommend an event to a colleague (95 per cent).

This month, the support events will be in Whithorn, Gretna Green, Dumfries and Dundrennan with a range of free workshops again on offer.

To find out more go to: http://thirdsectordumgal.org.uk/third-sector-road-september/

Bike Breakfast Returns With Business Support

Anyone cycling to work, school or college this Thursday will be in for a treat as the Bike Breakfast returns to Dumfries's Whitesands. On the 19th September, from 7am to 9am, Cycling Dumfries will be providing a free breakfast to anyone who arrives by bike at the Frothy Bike Co. carpark, next to Domino's. The event, which celebrates the contribution cyclists make to reducing congestion and easing parking problems in the town, is being supported by local businesses - as well as the loan of their carpark by the Frothy Bike Co, the food (a hot bacon roll or vegan equivalent) is being provided with the support of T.A. Francis, Tesco, Morrison's and others.

 

Cycling Dumfries Submitted pic of Sally and Ivor Hyslop

The bike breakfast has become a fixture in the local cycling calendar over the past few years, with volunteers feeding up to 100 people, including local pupils from St Michael's Primary School. Councillors, council officials and local politicians have attended to discuss commuters' concerns about conditions for cycling in the town - and have been impressed at how many people do cycle to work locally rather than take the car. As well as getting fed, cyclists can also secure their steed by getting it security marked courtesy of Sustrans, to deter thefts.

Cycling Dumfries Convenor Sally Hinchcliffe said, "People who cycle to work or education do us all a favour - not only are they not polluting but they help ease congestion and free up parking spaces for those who need them. We wanted to celebrate the 'unsung heroes' who are doing their bit to make Dumfries a nicer place to live rain or shine by offering them a tasty breakfast and also a chance to raise any issues that would make it easier for them to cycle - and others to join them. "We're delighted to have so many local businesses on board this year who have been extremely generous with their support.

Rhian Davies, the Active Travel Officer for NHS and council staff said “As well as being the answer to problems around Dumfries, such as parking, pollution and congestion cycling is convenient for the individual as a means of getting around - and a free breakfast is merely an extra perk!

McAlpine Raises The Plight of Local Egg Producers in Scottish Parliament

MSP Joan McAlpine has raised fears about the future of egg production after the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing told her the sector could be ‘wiped out’ if a no-deal Brexit leads to a mass influx of cheap, poor quality produce into the UK market.

 

Joan McAlpine MSP

The South Scotland MSP asked questions in Holyrood after being approached for help by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), as Dumfries and Galloway is home to some of the best quality producers including Nith Valley Eggs at Gatelawbridge, and Auchtralure Farm Eggs at Stranraer.

UK ministers propose to drop tariffs on eggs from abroad in the event of a “no deal”.  Mr Ewing told the MSP that he had raised the BEIC concerns with UK ministers just last week but they were unable to give any reassurance about fears a no deal could lead to an influx of poor quality eggs produced to lower animal welfare standards.

Joan McAlpine MSP said:

“A no-deal Brexit scenario could be disastrous for Scottish consumers and for our high-quality egg industry. Rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway have risen to the challenge of producing high quality free-range eggs in recent years, and it would be disgraceful to put these businesses at risk by allowing poor quality ‘battery’ eggs back onto the market.

“If we leave the EU without a deal, we will revert to WTO rules. Under the World Trade Organisation’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules, animal welfare cannot be used as a barrier to trade, so we could go backwards."

The British Egg Industry Council  fear that in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, many of the EU regulations and quality controls which ensure the welfare of egg laying hens and the quality of the eggs sold at market, could be scrapped. 

The Council, who represent the UK egg industry, say that though the EU banned conventional ‘battery’ cages in 2012, a no-deal Brexit could risk a lapse in welfare and food quality standards, and may see poor quality eggs from battery hens back on UK supermarket shelves, or used in other food products. 

Responding to Ms McAlpine’s questions in the Scottish Parliament, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said:

“Unfortunately our assessment is that egg production is another of our successful food and drink sectors that will be negatively impacted by a no deal Brexit, and this is particularly true if, as expected, the UK Government leaves the sector without the protection of tariffs or quantitative restrictions on egg products coming into the UK. That would leave Scottish producers at an unfair disadvantage with the potential for imported products of much lower quality and welfare standards flooding the market here.

“It beggars belief that the reckless approach by the UK Government to allow complete trade liberalisation on the egg production sector could wipe this out in one fell swoop. Not only will it leave our hard working egg producers unprotected and vulnerable to cheaper imports, but could also lead to consumers unwittingly eating egg and egg products produced to a lower welfare standard than we do thanks to being members of the EU.

“These issues were raised with DEFRA Ministers on Monday, but yet again they were completely unable to give us any reassurance whatsoever to alleviate these real and practical concerns. It was completely inadequate, and utter shambolic.”

Speaking after the exchange, Joan McAlpine MSP said:

“I am incredibly worried about the impacts which a no-deal scenario could have on Scottish egg producers, and these fears have been confirmed today by the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy. I will continue to work hard to stand up for the interests of producers across Dumfries and Galloway who could be facing serious losses as a result of an extreme Tory Brexit.”