Recent Press Releases

We publish all of our press releases from the last 12 months here so you can keep up to date.
Please email pressenquiry@dumgal.gov.uk if you'd like further details on any of our press releases.
If you want to speak to a communications officer, you can find their office-hours telephone numbers and what areas of the council they cover at www.dumgal.gov.uk/pressenquiry.

  • Potters Garden Receives Tree from the Tree of Trees

    Wednesday, 23 November 2022 15:25

    Potters Garden, part of the Stair Park Community Garden Centre in Stranraer, has been successfully nominated by the Wigtown Lieutenancy to receive a tree fromThe Queen’s Green CanopyTree of Trees sculpture, which was displayed outside Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee weekend earlier this year. The group received the tree at a special gifting ceremony on Wednesday 16 November.

    The Potters Garden was founded in early 2012 when a group of local people identified an opportunity to promote community engagement as a third sector organisation to deliver a garden/training centre specifically for people with learning disabilities. The site at Stair Park has been transformed into 5 working areas, a productive garden (fruit, vegetables & flowers), sensory garden, skills and learning area, workshop & wildlife garden.

    Mrs Brewis, Lord-Lieutenant for Wigtown said: “The Queen’s Green Canopy is a very fitting memorial in honour and loving memory of Her Majesty. Everyone can get involved with planting a tree which will branch out and become a beautiful living legacy that will be enjoyed by our children and our grandchildren for many years to come.”

    Denys Potter-Smith, Centre Manager for the Stair Park Community Garden Centre in Stranraer, said: “We are proud and honoured, to plant this native British tree (Sorbus Aucuparia Multi-Stem) in Potters Garden to commemorate Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth’s Green Canopy. It will also be a poignant memory of the tireless work & dedication to duty Her Majesty undertook.”



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  • Crossmichael Community Woodland to Receive Tree from the Tree of Trees

    Wednesday, 23 November 2022 15:10

    Crossmichael Community Woodland is delighted to receive a special tree from The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) “Tree of Trees” which stood tall as a message of hope, regeneration and optimism to the nation and the world as part of the Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations.

    The Crossmichael Community Woodland project in the Stewartry joins over 300organisations from across the UK who were announced by the QGC as recipients of these special trees.

    The British-grown tree will be gifted in a pot embossed with the late Queen’s cypher and will be presented by the Lord-Lieutenant of The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, The Lord Sinclair, on Wednesday, 30 November 2022 at 1.30pm at the community woodland site in Crossmichael, adjacent to the Primary School.

    The Crossmichael Community Woodland is managed by Crossmichael andCommunity District Community Council who has been leading a project to manage, care for and improve access to a community woodland in the Crossmichael area of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway.

    Work carried out on the woodland area includes an improved path surface, drainage, gates, picnic tables, and a new footbridge – supporting one of the main aims of the project being to improve accessibility for a wider range of user abilities. The wood ismanaged by the environment group of the Community Council and basic maintenance is carried out by volunteers.

    The whole community and visitors will benefit from the improved access. The local school children are regular visitors to the woodland enjoying the trees and wildlife. It is a well-used and cared for woodland.

    Lord Sinclair, Lord-Lieutenant for The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright said:“I am delighted that Crossmichael Community Woodland has been chosen to receive this special tree in honour of Her Majesty. It will become one of over a million already planted as part of the Queen’s Green canopy and will serve, not only as a lasting memory to our late Queen, but as a thank you to all volunteers who work tirelessly for their local communities.”

    Chairman of Crossmichael and District Community Council said:“We were surprised and delighted to receive this award, which we see as a tribute to the work of the many volunteers whose efforts over a number of years have made our community woodland what it is today – a green oasis where local residents and visitors alike can enjoy and benefit from the life-affirming gifts of trees.”


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  • Planning for future Development in D&G

    Monday, 21 November 2022 09:52

    The Dumfries and Galloway Council Development Plan Scheme (DPS) sets out the programme for preparing the next Local Development Plan (LDP3). The DPS is updated annually to let you know how the Plan is progressing and gives you more detail on the next stages.

    Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (November 15th) agreed to issue the Development Plan Scheme (DPS) for consultation. (LDP3 update and DPS.pdf (moderngov.co.uk))

    Planning reform at the national level has changed how the next Plan (LDP3) is prepared and what that Plan will look like. This edition of the Development Plan Scheme (DPS) provides an update on those planning reforms, an indicative timescale for LDP3 and how we are proposing you can get involved.

    This DPS includes a Participation Statement and LDP3 timetable which sets out how and when the public can get involved in the various stages. To ensure the proposed engagement and consultations methods being proposed in the DPS are suitable and to help raise awareness of the plan preparation process, the DPS is being issued for consultation.

    Chair of E&R Committee, Cllr Katie Hagmann said: “The Local Development Plan 3 process is underway and this Development Plan Scheme is your opportunity to have a look and get involved. The DPS includes a timetable setting out the various stages of the LDP3 process and how and when you can have your say.”

    Vice Chair, Cllr Sean Marshall said: “Local Development Plans are key documents and form the basis for decision making on planning applications and provide a framework for future development and infrastructure investment. It’s vital that we have outside views to help us support the vision for future development in D&G.”

    The consultation is open from November 28th until January 27th 2023. Copies of the DPS can be found in libraries and online as well how to comment on it: Local Development Plan (LDP2) - Dumfries and Galloway Council (dumgal.gov.uk).

  • Stranraer Young Leaders – We Need You!

    Thursday, 17 November 2022 11:17

    Are you a young person living in Stranraer & The Rhins? Are you between the age of 12 and 18 years old? Do you want to become a game changer for your community?

    Then the Stranraer Young Leaders Project is for you!

    The Young Leader’s Project in Stranraer is delivered by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Youth Work Service, and they are currently recruiting new members to take part in their leadership programme focussed on giving young people a way to develop their skills through volunteering in youth and community projects.

    They offer lots of ways to help you discover your leadership skills and styles through training and mentoring, and opportunities for you to get more involved in your local community.

    Emma Halliday, a Young Leader in Stranraer said: “Volunteering is a great way to prepare yourself for your future and it helps you learn more about yourself through exploring how you think, learn, communicate and lead. It’s lots of fun, and also a great way to meet new people – and a brilliant addition to your CV”

    Young people participating in Stranraer Young Leaders will work towards achieving a range of accredited Youth Awards, such as Saltire, Youth Achievement and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee said: “If you have a passion for improving your community and helping others, please sign up today. You can make your community a better place by using your skills, voice and talents.”

    Councillor John Campbell, Vice Chair of the Communities Committee, agreed saying: “Every day, young volunteers are making such a huge difference to the lives of others across the region, and we need their passion, energy and skills to help us to build strong and resilient communities.”

    If you want to enjoy these benefits and lots more, get in touch with us at youth.work@dumgal.gov.uk or PM us via our social media pages, Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok @YouthWorkDG

  • Ecclefechan Youth Group Raise Funds for Poppy Scotland

    Thursday, 17 November 2022 10:25

    Young people from Ecclefechan have worked hard to organise a fundraising event for Poppy Scotland that saw over 50 people attend a coffee morning on Remembrance Sunday and raise £151.30 for the charity.

    The project was started by young people in the Annan Detachment of the Army Cadets and developed as a partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Youth Work Service to mark Remembrance Day 2022. Through the partnership, young people successfully gained funding from Ecclefechan and Hoddom Community Council to access an appropriate venue and provide the refreshments for the event.

    At the Youth Work Service’s Ecclefechan Youth Group over the last month, young people have made wreaths and decorations to support Remembrance Day reflections, and poppy badges to give out for a donation. Youth Workers, young people and family members also volunteered over the weekend to make soups and cupcakes, and to set up for the coffee morning. Young people also collaborated with Annan Harbour Action Group in the run up to the event to create a large poppy for visitors to put a message to lost ones on a ‘dog-tag’ replica.

    The coffee morning was a real community event, adding games like dominoes, chess, and draughts to help young and old to come together and talk. The young people enjoyed getting to hear stories from the older members of the community as they shared in Remembrance throughout the morning. The community have asked the youth group to continue this collaboration in the future to showcase what young people can do in their community.

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Communities Committee said: “It has been great to see the enormous efforts this group of young people continue to be involved in. The young people have done an outstanding amount of work to raise money for Poppy Scotland not only holding the coffee morning but going out during their group time to make the poppy with Annan Harbour Action Group.”

    The Ecclefechan Youth Group meets every Wednesday in the Ecclefechan Village Hall between 6.30–8.30pm, providing informal support and learning opportunities for young people aged 12–18. One focus of the group is to support young people to learn about the environment and how they can help combat climate change. As a mark of success, the Climate Change Group who are part of this project has been successful in being selected as a finalist in the Environment category of the Dumfries and Galloway Youth Awards, while Sarah Lunney who attends the group has been successful in being selected as a finalist in the Inspiring Voice category.

    Councillor John Campbell, Vice Chair of Communities Committee said: “The Ecclefechan Drop-In group of young people have been up to a lot of different projects this year. It is great to see them being recognised for their efforts as finalists for this year’s Dumfries and Galloway Youth Awards with commitment as they have shown this weekend. Young people should be proud of their efforts to have raised so much for a great cause.”

    On Sunday 13 November three young leaders, Sarah Lunney, Eisa Rasool and Conlan Craig laid a wreath at the Cenotaph. The three young leaders have been volunteering at the Ecclefechan Youth Groupfor over 3 months and were a key part of planning for the coffee morning. The three young leaders were the ones who made the large Poppy at Annan Harbour Action Group. They asked the organiser of the ceremony at the Cenotaph if they could lay a wreath and were accepted to lay it on behalf of the youth group.

    If you would like more information on what youth work opportunities are available – whether you are looking to complete a saltire award for volunteering, be a young leader, or just have a safe space to meet – please visit our Facebook page “Youth Work DG”; our Instagram @youthworkdg; or our Twitter @YOUTHWORKDG.

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  • Contractor appointed for Stranraer Museum improvements

    Monday, 14 November 2022 16:10

    Stranraer Museum is scheduled for substantial improvements and in a significant step forward WH Kirkwood has recently been appointed as principal contractor. The firm has the specialist experience of historic building work that the repairs to this Grade A Listed Building require and bring a wealth of experience to the project. The appointment will enable construction work to go ahead in the new year substantially improving the condition and appearance of one of Stranraer’s most important historic buildings. WH Kirkwood will be working in partnership with the Council’s project team to deliver a first-class scheme of works based on best practice in historic building conservation.

    The work is being enabled by funding from Historic Environment Scotland as part of Stranraer Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) project along with funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council and will include comprehensive work to the exterior as well as improvements inside the building. Repairs will include work to the roof, masonry, windows and doors along with upgrading of the building’s drainage and heating systems.

    The investment in one of Stranraer’s key historic buildings will benefit the whole community and will make a valuable contribution to improvement of the town centre. The work will also enable the important educational and cultural service the Museum provides to continue in the future. The Museum service complements the tourist offer of the wider area and encourages people to spend time in Stranraer town centre with the associated economic benefits this brings.

    In preparation for construction work starting in the new year, the Museum will close on 19th November to allow the valuable collection it houses to be safely stored for the duration of the works. The Castle will be open for events linked with Stranraer’s Christmas programme and the Museum service will arrange virtual exhibitions over the temporary closed period as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to refresh the local history exhibitions on the ground floor.

    The programme for construction work is currently being finalised and more information will be provided as soon as details are available. While there will be some unavoidable impacts on traffic movement during the course of the work, this will be kept to an absolute minimum and advance notice will be provided.

  • Annual Joint Meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council & Dumfries and Galloway’s Youth Council

    Friday, 11 November 2022 13:10

    Dumfries and Galloway Council held the third annual joint meeting with Dumfries and Galloway’s Youth Council on Thursday 3 November at The Bridge in Dumfries.

    The meeting brought together Elected Members, Elected Youth Councillors and Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament from across every community in the region to develop actions that will improve opportunities for young people.

    Members were divided across three groups themed around the Council’s main service committees:

    • Economy and Resources
    • Education, Skills and Learning
    • Communities

    In total, eight actions were proposed and agreed by both organisations and a report on the progress of these will go to Full Council in 2023. The actions agreed were:

    Communities

    1. Automatic enrolment for young people to receive their Under 22 free bus travel card through schools (with parent or guardian permission)
    2. Create a taster card for young people aged 12-18 that enables them to access 6 or 12 free leisure sessions per year (gym, swim, skate, coaching etc.) for free.
    3. Trial a late-night opening for library facilities for students studying for exams between March and June 2023. If successful, look to expand this year-round.

    Economies

    1. A campaign aimed at Under 16’s related to their employment rights, and what to expect from a workplace.
    2. Wi-fi being available in all Council facilities including town halls, libraries and public offices.
    3. Create dedicated youth spaces within existing Council buildings in Stewartry and Mid and Upper Nithsdale.

    Education

    1. Schools staff to undertake the SAMH ‘We All Have Mental Health: an introduction for teachers’ training.
    2. Review all secondary schools to address accessibility barriers that exist for students in wheelchairs or crutches where there is limited access for students to common areas and upper floors. It was agreed to include all schools in the review, as opposed to the limited number highlighted within discussion.

    In addition to the creation of a Joint Action Plan, the meeting also included a presentation by Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council on the work undertaken since their election in November 2021, and the agreement of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s new Youth Participation and Engagement Strategy. The Strategy outlines a clear approach to youth democracy in Dumfries and Galloway and includes renewed commitments to the existing structures that support young people to have their say through the Youth Council and Champions Board project.

    Speaking of the meeting, Cllr Stephen Thompson and Cllr Linda Dorward, Co-Leaders of Dumfries and Galloway Council, stated:

    “We are delighted with the outcome of this year’s Joint Meeting which marks the first time that new Members of both the Council and Youth Council have come together since their election in November 2021 and May 2022 respectively. In Dumfries and Galloway, we are committed to listening to and talking with our young people, and acting on these views where possible.”

    The Chair and Vice Chair of Dumfries & Galloway’s Youth Council, Elli Wadsworth and Cameron Greer added:

    “The joint meeting was a productive and positive space for both Elected Members and Youth Council Members to discuss the things impacting young people across Dumfries & Galloway, from wi-fi in Council buildings to training available to staff in schools and young people’s access to community facilities – there was a wide range of issues considered and solutions identified.”

    The audio recording of the meeting has been uploaded to Dumfries and Galloway Councils YouTube page and a minute of the meeting can be found on the Councils website.

    For more information about the Youth Council, you can e-mail info@dgyouthcouncil.com, or search for us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @YouthCouncilDG

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  • SUZY IS THE SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR

    Thursday, 10 November 2022 15:21

    Dumfries and Galloway Social Worker Suzy Rook is the social worker of the year! Suzy was awarded the accolade last night at an awards ceremony in Glasgow.

    The Scottish Social Services Awards recognise and celebrate the very best examples of practice in social work and social care across Scotland. Suzy was nominated in the ‘Social Worker of the Year’ category, a highly contested category which recognises the very best examples of individuals demonstrating their deep commitment to their profession and going above and beyond in their role.

    “I can’t believe it” said Suzy. “when they called out my name, I was in shock but getting up there to collect the award, I was absolutely buzzing! It’s such an honour. It’s amazing to be recognised for the job you do, but to be recognised by your peers and industry professionals is incredible. Nobody does this job for the praise, we do it because we care about people and want the best outcomes for everyone. Being recognised for doing your best really means a lot.”

    Suzy currently works in the Criminal Justice team within Social Work which she joined in October 2021. However, her nomination also relates to her previous role in Children and Families. She was nominated by two of the families that she worked with during this time.

    “Covid was a really difficult time for everyone but seeing families struggling and the consequences of that were really difficult. It really hit families that I supported hard,” said Suzy. “I think my strength is relationship-based practice. It’s all about building relationships. People need to be supported by social workers who are down to earth and personable, then you are able to see and speak to people and identify what they need. There is strength in any family. It is identifying those strengths and working with the families to achieve the best outcomes for everyone”.

    The two families that nominated Suzy both benefitted from her experience and approach. In both cases, although in different circumstances, Suzy was able to build relationships with the families, working with and supporting them so that they were able to get back on track and keep their families together achieving the best outcome for the children and the parents.

    Neither of the families told Suzy about nominating her. Suzy didn’t know anything about their nominations until she was contacted to say that she had made the shortlist! She is looking forward to letting them know about her award.

    Chair of the Social Work Services committee, Cllr Andy Ferguson, said “Congratulations to Suzy. Scottish Social Worker of the Year is an amazing achievement. Her efforts of going above and beyond for local families have been recognised and rewarded as the best in Scotland – this is something to be very proud of. I know that all our social workers in Dumfries and Galloway demonstrate this level of commitment every single day. This is one of the most challenging and difficult jobs but our social work staff are so dedicated to achieving the best for the people they support. It makes me very proud to be the Chair of this service.”

    Vice Chair of the committee, Cllr Iain Howie, said “I am delighted for Suzy picking up this amazing accolade. Since becoming the Vice Chair of the Social Work Service, I have heard amazing accounts, just like Suzy’s, of the lengths that our social work staff go to every day to achieve the best outcomes for local people. Their commitment often goes unnoticed, so for Suzy to pick up the Social Worker of the Year award demonstrates just how industry-leading the work being done in Dumfries and Galloway is.”

  • South West Scotland Printmakers Exhibition

    Thursday, 10 November 2022 14:50

    In a special Christmas exhibition at Gracefield Arts Centre, over 25 artists are showing a selection of framed and unframed original prints using etching, linocut, screenprint, collagraph and other printmaking techniques. Opening on Saturday 19 November, the free exhibition in Gallery 1 at Gracefield Arts Centre, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries, runs until mid-January.

    Join us on the opening Saturday, 19 November, from 11am–2pm when South West Scotland Printmakers (SWSP) members Sarah Keast and Colin Blanchard will be in the gallery doing printmaking demonstrations and chatting about their work and the techniques, and artist Emma Varley introduces her light projection artwork. This is a free event, with refreshments served.

    Artwork can be bought ‘off the wall’ and from the print browsers – the ideal opportunity to buy a thoughtful original present. The exhibition also includes a selection of artist hand-printed Christmas and greeting cards, printed fabric such as tea-towels, tote bags and other hand printed items such as ceramics, tree decorations, bookmarks – the ideal stocking fillers!

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee said: “There are some wonderful printmakers working in this part of Scotland; making a huge variety of different prints with a wide range of inspiration.”

    Although original prints are often made in limited editions, each is individually created by the artist, requiring specialist skills and equipment. This means they can be an affordable way to have original and unusual artworks in your own home. Original prints differ from reproduction prints, like a Giclee, which although usually made from an artist’s own original drawn or painted image are made in limited runs on an ink-jet printer – they are never exactly the same, even in an edition, with the subtleties of ink application or pressure of the press creating a unique artwork.

    Sarah Keast, exhibitor and Chair of the South West Scotland Printmakers adds “It is wonderful to have Gracefield continuing to support the art of printmaking – there are a lot of technical skills required by the makers and original prints have a distinct hand-made quality – the small workshop in Dumfries has been well-used and loved but has the potential to grow with the help of SWSP and we hope to have screen printing available soon”.

    If you are interested in becoming a member of the Gracefield Print Studio and joining SWSP (which has separate membership scheme) please get in touch with Gracefield by email at arts@dumgal.gov.uk

    Gracefield Craft Shop will also be bringing a fantastic range of hand-made Christmas gifts to its displays this year with theme of ‘Canvas and Craft’ – paintings, textiles, ceramics, jewellery and much more for lasting gifts that your loved one really will treasure.

    Councillor John Campbell, Vice-Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee added: “It’s important these days that we are mindful of what we buy, and you know when you are selecting something hand-made from a local or UK source that you are supporting a more sustainable practice – and that it will last a long time.”

    Gracefield is located at 28 Edinburgh Road, Dumfries – for more details see www.dgculture.co.uk

    ENDS
  • FREE Warm Winter Clothes Events

    Thursday, 10 November 2022 10:43

    Do you need any warm winter clothes this winter? Throughout November, Dumfries and Galloway Council will be running events across the region where we are inviting families and individuals to come along and help themselves to some free warm winter clothes.

    We have a huge range of clothes in various sizes for both adults and children including, coats, jackets, jumpers, hoodies, cardigans, jeans and some pyjamas.

    In addition, at our Dumfries Events we will also be giving away FREE School Uniforms including branded sweatshirts, polo shirts, trousers, skirts and shirts.

    Our FREE Warm Winter Clothes Events will be held on the following dates and times:

    • Saturday 12November 2022, 11am–3pm - Ryan Centre, Fairhurst Road, Stranraer

      Saturday 12November 2022, 9am–12 noon - Newstart Recycle, Provost Mill, North Queensberry Street, Annan

    • Sunday 13November 2022, 11am–3pm - Castle Douglas Community Centre, Cotton Street, Castle Douglas

    This year we will be opening up a Pop-Up Shop in Dumfries where we will be giving away free warm winter clothes and free school uniform. Please visit us at our Pop-Up Shop in ‘The Press’ (across from the Midsteeple), High Street, Dumfries on the following dates:

    • Thursday 24 November 2022, 9.30am–5pm
    • Friday 25 November 2022, 9.30am–7.30pm

    You can also visit Action for Children, Kirkfield, Greystone Avenue in Kelloholm who are one of our permanent school uniform and warm winter clothes banks and are open all year round.

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  • Dumfries and Galloway Council participates in Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday 2022

    Thursday, 10 November 2022 10:26

    Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are an opportunity for us all to remember the service and sacrifice of all those who have defended our freedoms and protected our way of life.

    Every year, Legion Scotland asks us to unite in commemorating Remembrance Sunday to make sure that no-one is forgotten and to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.

    A range of events are planned to remember the service and sacrifice of all those that have defended our freedoms and protected our way of life.

    Armistice Day 11 November 2022
    A two-minute silence will be held on Friday 11 November at 11am to respect and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

    As a mark of respect Flags will be flown at all Council flag flying locations across the region from Friday, 11 November 2022 to Monday, 14 November 2022.

    Remembrance Sunday 13 November 2022
    Services of Remembrance and Wreath Laying Ceremonies will take place at War Memorials and in faith venues across Dumfries and Galloway in honour of those who lost their lives in the Two World Wars and the many conflicts since then.

    Ukrainian Guests from the Welcome Hubs in Stranraer, Castle Douglas and Dumfries will lay wreaths for their armed forces; and there will also be a wreath laid in Annan for Ukrainian people, as there has been for a number of years.

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh MBE, Chair of Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee will lay a wreath on behalf of Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee at 11am at Annan War Memorial.

    Councillor Dougie Campbell, Chair of Stewartry Area Committee will lay a wreath on behalf of Stewartry Area Committee at 11am at Castle Douglas War Memorial.

    Councillor Willie Scobie, Chair of Nithsdale Area Committee will lay a wreath on behalf of Wigtown Area Committee at 11am at the Cenotaph, Sheriff Court, Stranraer.

    Provost Tracey Little, Chair of Nithsdale Area Committee will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Dumfries at 11am at St John’s War Memorial, Newall Terrace, Dumfries.

    Also in Nithsdale, wreaths will be laid at War Memorials in the Nithsdale area by Members of Nithsdale Area Committee, and in some locations, on their behalf, by Community Councillors and other organisations’ representatives.

    Lord Lieutenants, Vice and Deputies and are also laying wreaths at Services across the region.

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh MBE Armed Forces Champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council, said:
    ‘Remembrance Sunday is our opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of all those that have defended our freedoms and protected our way of life. On this day, we remember our Armed Forces, and their families, as well as the vital role played by the emergency services and those who have lost their lives as a result of conflict and terrorism’.


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  • Members Agree Extra Roads Resource

    Tuesday, 08 November 2022 15:55

    Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee met today (Tuesday 8 November) and agreed an £800,000 allocation for key projects and programmes in the Council’s Roads and Infrastructure Service.

    This funding will be used to hire additional temporary staffing resource until March 2024. The new staff will be employed to help with the Winter Service Plan to treat roads and pedestrian areas to assist the Council in meeting its statutory duty, as well as improving the condition of roads across Dumfries and Galloway.

    As well as this, there are a number of cross-service arrangements in place, so that staff can be used in other roles, should the weather dictate that winter operations are not required as well as when they are required to be working on winter operations. Such tasks may include gully and drain clearing and general roads maintenance. The need for on-call and standby arrangements as well as the legal complexities of driving hours mean that the Roads and Infrastructure Service needs a good level of resilience to be able to operate effectively and efficiently all year round, but especially over the Autumn and Winter, where weather is generally worse.

    The new operatives will not only focus on winter operations though. They will be responsible for the repair of road and pedestrian surfaces in spring and summer, when the damage ice, snow and rain has caused can be properly assessed. Having additional resource will also allow the Council to respond to reports of road and footway defects in a timelier manner. As well as the operatives, the funding will allow for some temporary resource to develop and implement a number of significant capital projects across the service, in line with the approach many other local authorities take.

    The agreement of this funding will allow for a dozen positions to be filled, as well as freeing up funds for the flexibility and resilience of having staff on standby. This additional investment will sit beside that investment that has already been made in the service via the asset class capital investment and the roads recovery fund.

    Councillor Carolyne Wilson, Chair of Finance, Procurement & Transformation Committee said:

    “This additional investment will allow our Council to keep our residents and visitors safer during winter. While we will still not be able to grit every road and clear every pathway, the extra resource will be of great assistance and will complement the already wonderful work all of our community resilience groups across the region undertake.”

    Councillor Dougie Campbell, Vice Chair of Finance, Procurement & Transformation Committee followed on:

    “Our Council acknowledged there were historical issues in our Roads and Infrastructure Service and has worked hard to address these. The service is in a much-improved position now and that is due to a number of key factors, one of which is investment. We will continue to push forward and invest in services to allow us to serve the public effectively.”

    The report can be viewed at https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s44123/Roads%20and%20Infrastructure%20Service%20Resources.pdf
  • Community Asset Transfer Progress Agreed At Committee

    Tuesday, 08 November 2022 15:15

    Three Community Asset Transfers (CAT) were given the green light to progress at today’s (8 November) meeting of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee.

    Community Asset Transfers allow community groups and organisations to take over a current or surplus Council asset/property, under the Community Empowerment Act, 2015. The Council has a CAT Strategy in place and many organisations have benefitted from utilising the CAT process since the strategy was introduced five years ago.

    First up for discussion was Alive Community Radio SCIO, which is looking to take over the ownership of Lochside Enterprise Workshops, in Lochside, Dumfries. The brick-built construction consists of half a dozen workshops with office space, toilets and a car park. It was built in the 1980’s for new or micro businesses. It has had no commercial tenants for a number of years and has been occupied by Alive Radio for a couple of years, during which time Alive has improved the building to the tune of around £75,000 of its own money. Elected Members scrutinised Alive’s business plan at today’s meeting and agreed to progress the transfer of the building from the Council to Alive, for a fee of £1.

    Lockerbie Squash and Racketball Club was next on the agenda. Members discussed the 11,500 square metre site on the outskirts of Lockerbie and agreed to progress with the CAT, for the fee of £1 payable to the Council. The club is located on alienable Common Good land on Glasgow Road in Lockerbie. Members agreed that the social value of having an all-year-round sports facility situated close to Lockerbie Academy and Lockerbie Ice Rink was of great community benefit and were impressed by the Club’s drive to become greener and more sustainable.

    The final CAT discussed was Tundergarth Kirk’s transfer request to take over the Tundergarth Memorial Room, located within Tundergarth Cemetery, less than three miles from the town of Lockerbie. The room is dedicated to the victims of the Lockerbie Air Disaster and is used as a contemplative space for friends and families as well as visitors. As well as the memorial room, Members also agreed to sign the Auld Kirk Ruin over under the CAT. Both the memorial room and the ruin will be transferred to Tundergarth Kirk for the nominal fee of £1.

    Chair of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee, Cllr Carolyne Wilson said of the transfers:

    “I’m delighted the committee has agreed to progress these transfers today. Our Council is committed to empowering communities and in agreeing these asset transfers, we are doing just that. All three organisations presented strong business cases and demonstrated their drive and commitment to using the properties for the benefit of local communities.”

    Vice Chair, Cllr Dougie Campbell commented:

    “For the last five years this Council has had a robust community asset transfer in place and today’s agreed reports are a real sign of how effective this strategy is. I was particularly impressed with Lockerbie Squash and Racketball Club considering environmental sustainability as part of their business plan. It’s vital that more businesses do this moving forward.”

    Papers for the meeting can be viewed at Agenda for Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee on Tuesday, 8th November, 2022, 10.30 am - Dumfries and Galloway Council (moderngov.co.uk)

  • Property/Buildings (Other) Asset Class Capital Programme.

    Monday, 07 November 2022 14:04

    Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 November) will receive a report on the progress made on a number of projects across Dumfries and Galloway which are funded through the Council’s Property/Building Asset Class Programme.

    The Council’s Property/Buildings Asset Class Capital Programme is currently forecast to
    spend the full allocation of £4.551 million across numerous projects right across our region,
    including:

    • Improvements to Annan Museum
    • Ongoing improvements and upgrading of the facilities at Dumfries Ice Bowl
    • Upgrading work at Thornhill Community Centre
    • Demolition and refurbishment of toilet and changing facilities at Lochside Caravan Park, Castle Douglas.
    • Replacement lighting in the Castle of St. John, Stranraer

    In addition, there are various ongoing remedial works in Council owned buildings across the region, including disability access works, lighting and flooring repairs, boiler replacement, etc.

    Members will also be asked to agree new projects and to approve the undertaking of energy audits across the councils non-schools estate to inform capital investment decision making regarding energy management and reduction.

    New projects for the programme will include Douglas Ewart ‘Smarter Working’ at Newton
    Stewart, Dumfries Ice Bowl sound system, Lockerbie Library heating system. In addition, a
    request will be made for up to £15,000 for emergency repairs to Langholm War Memorial,
    which have now been completed.

    Chair of Economy and resources, Cllr Katie Hagmann said: “These are very important
    projects which will not only maintain our community buildings across the region but will also
    improve and future-proof them for generations to come. By undertaking these works we
    will have sustainable and accessible assets whilst also addressing the effects of climate
    change and the cost of living and energy crisis.”

    Vice Chair, Cllr Sean Marshall added: “These are difficult times, with rising costs, but by
    undertaking this work we are not only ensuring the enhancement and sustainability of these community assets, but also, by awarding contracts for the work, we are providing work and therefore jobs for contractors.”

    ENDS

  • Vacant and derelict land and property strategy.

    Monday, 07 November 2022 13:55

    Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 Nov) will receive a report on the extensive consultation carried out to shape the draft Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy and be asked to agree to the draft Strategy and associated action plan.

    In October 2020, the Scottish Land Commission published ‘Transforming Scotland’s Approach to Vacant and Derelict Land’ which sets out recommendations to address the issue of long term land vacancy and dereliction.

    Recommendations included providing dedicated funding to bring vacant and derelict land back into use and developing new approaches to support their remediation. In addition, a review of strategic funding streams to ensure they are aligned around the Place Principle was requested.

    It was proposed that the remediation of vacant and derelict land should be prioritised, focusing within the following areas:

    • Capital investment and infrastructure
    • Health
    • Housing
    • The environment
    • Inclusive growth

    The Council held a consultation on the Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy
    Consultation Mandate in February 2022, which received 791 responses. Some of the key
    findings were:

    • 34% of respondents live within 500m of a derelict building or vacant land
    • 65% of respondents often felt the site impacted on how they feel about their area
    • 93% of respondents felt these sites make the area less attractive
    • 90% wanted to see these sites prioritised for redevelopment
    • 68% wanted the Council to use a different measurement for vacant and derelict land than the Scottish Government

    In recognition of the need to prioritise sites for intervention, the public were asked
    what measure should be the most important when the Council is considering where to focus its efforts. First choice responses were:

    1. Danger to public (70.8%)
    2. Prominent location (12.7%)
    3. Possible end use (7.1%)
    4. Community involvement (5.4%)
    5. Anti-social behaviour (4%)

    Dumfries and Galloway Council Plan 2017-22 set out a commitment to develop a derelict property strategy, in particular, to make town centre regeneration a priority.

    In June 2019 Dumfries and Galloway Council declared a climate emergency, with the target of becoming a carbon neutral region by 2025. Reusing brownfield land in preference to greenfield sites can help reduce the impact of development on the climate by retaining areas of carbon sequestration, reduce the need for travel, while also limiting urban sprawl.

    A Derelict Buildings Pilot Project was carried out in the Wigtown area and made a number of recommendations to be considered for inclusion in a regional strategy. In addition to dealing with specific buildings, the pilot project identified five key issues that the group felt should be included in the strategy. These recommendations provided a helpful starting point to form consultation with the wider region.

    1. Clear details about powers and definitions.
    2. Methods of communication.
    3. A procedure for dealing with derelict properties.
    4. Sources of funding and assistance.
    5. Recommended interim measures.

    In September 2021, the Scottish Government opened the application process for
    the second round of funding from the Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme (VDLIP). The £50 million fund is a capital programme scheduled over the next five yearsto help with tackling persistent vacant and derelict land and supporting place based approaches to delivering regeneration and sustainable inclusive growth.

    Applications to this fund were prepared for proposed affordable housing developments at the Former Oil Depot, Terregles Rd, Dumfries, and also for Cotton Street, Castle Douglas. The latter project has been approved by the Scottish Government for the second stage of the application process. Work is now underway to identify further projects that meet the criteria for funding, ahead of further submissions being made.

    Cllr Katie Hagmann, Chair of E&R Committee said: “Vacant and derelict land and property can blight communities, harm wellbeing, and limit opportunities. Due to rising inflation costs, particularly impacting on the construction sector, it is vital that our Council identifies and considers all funding options available to address the vacant and derelict land across our region, so it can be repurposed into areas and buildings that are vital to our local communities.”

    Vice Chair, Cllr Sean Marshall said: “Our Council must prioritise the re-use and protection of our natural environment so we can ensure that future investment goes into areas where it is needed most. By identifying and reutilising these abandoned sites, we will be supporting shared ambitions for place, housing, community regeneration and town centres. It is vital more powers and funding is given to Local Authorities by Scottish Government to fully address the problems associated with derelict buildings across our region.”

    ENDS
  • Improvement Works Underway To Make Active Travel Safer In Dumfries

    Monday, 07 November 2022 13:40

    Construction of the Park Road and New Abbey Road improvement works is now underway. This project will improve traffic flows at these two junctions whilst making it easier for people to cross these busy roads by using dedicated controlled crossing points, as well as a new walking, wheeling, and cycling path connecting Park Road with Pleasance Avenue.

    The delivery of match funded projects like this will allow the Council to make the case for further funding opportunities to provide similar road and active travel improvements in other areas of Dumfries and Galloway. Half of the funding for the £1 million project has been provided by Transport Scotland through Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme, with additional funding support supplied by NHS Dumfries & Galloway and SWestrans.

    Sara Grenni, Grant Advisor for Sustrans said the following as works started:

    “The improvement works on Park Road and New Abbey Road will be transformative for people living, working and visiting Dumfries. Not only will these changes make active travel safer and easier going forward, this is also the first example of segregated active travel infrastructure that has been implemented in Dumfries. We’re excited to see the construction process now underway and thankful for the hard work and dedication of our project partners and all those who have contributed to the designs.”

    The project will deliver across all five our Council priorities making local shops, schools and services more accessible for all to walk, wheel, or cycle as well as providing a much-improved link between the Hospital, Town Centre, Crichton campus and beyond. Local contractor David Hardie Engineering has been appointed as lead contractor for the works.

    Communities Committee Chairman, Councillor Archie Dryburgh said:

    “The investment in our infrastructure has been subject of many reports to council committees over the past few years and I’m delighted that the works are now starting. Creating safer, greener ways for our residents and visitors to travel is a key commitment for our Council and this work is a great example of this commitment in action.”

    Vice Chairman, Councillor John Campbell continued:

    “I would like to express my thanks to Sustrans for their unwavering support with this, and other projects, that our Council are undertaking. Without match-funding, many of the projects we do simply could not take place, and it is important to recognise this. I look forward to seeing the works progress.”

  • Valuing our Council’s workforce.

    Monday, 07 November 2022 13:07

    Our Council’s highly valued workforce is extremely diverse and complex, reflecting the range and type of services which our Council currently delivers. Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 Nov) will receive two reports on staffing at the Council: The People Strategy update and the Annual Workforce Report.

    To understand our workforce better, we review and report on a wide range of HR metrics designed to provide insight, and to recognise the contributions made by our staff across the Council.

    Our Council’s People Strategy sets out our ambition to be a great employer and our proposals to ensure that we have a workforce that will deliver on our aims for the future and our council vision ‘dedicated to creating opportunity for all, we’ll support ambition, promote prosperity and establish Dumfries and Galloway as the best place to live, work and learn’.

    We continue to ensure that we have a flexible, multi skilled workforce. to help us understand our future workforce needs. and to identify opportunities to change the way we work. We are learning lessons from working through COVID-19 and the impact on our
    workforce and working practices. The key areas linked to our workforce are:

    • More staff working from home – technology, health and safety and wellbeing are key areas of focus.
    • New recruitment tools – to improve the candidate journey, review of the end-to-end process for recruitment.
    • Improving customer experience – developing the skills frameworks to meet skills gaps identified in the customer experience, digital and customer case skills.
    • Changing work patterns – 9 to 5 working does not meet all the requirements of our customers – how can new work patterns help our customers and our staff?
    • Digital by default – developing our digital capability to facilitate hybrid working styles in the post-COVID world. Ensuring we are digitally inclusive in how we work; improving skills and competence to work collaboratively, autonomously and protect our wellbeing in digital ways of working.

    Chair of E&R Committee, Cllr Katie Hagmann said: “The people who make D&G council are our most important asset. We appreciate our staff and know that they are high performing and help the Council to meet its priorities and programmes of work by providing quality services and support to everyone within Dumfries and Galloway. We are proud of our dedicated workforce and have great plans to support them in the future. We do currently have vacancies for posts across the workforce and we would be interested in hearing from people from all walks of life and experience – come and work for us in an exciting environment!”

    Vice Chair, Cllr Sean Marshall said: “We are proud of our dedicated workforce and we are very supportive of them. To deliver changes and improve services to our communities we must continue to develop a culture of high performance across our Council, maximise employee engagement and create a working environment where everyone can have a rewarding work life. I would encourage people with the correct skills and experience to look at our recruitment posts online and apply if they are interested. We welcome applications from all.”

    ENDS
  • Another successful year for the Council’s Business Gateway.

    Monday, 07 November 2022 12:28

    Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 Nov) will receive a report on the activities of the Council’s Business Gateway service which will inform how this contributes to the work of the Business Support Partnership.

    The Business Gateway (BG) service provides free, impartial, expert advice, support and training to individuals and companies at any stage in their business life. This is delivered by the team of advisors working across the region through 1-2-1 meetings, workshops and seminars, networking events and on-line resources via social media and the web. The aim is to support individuals and business achieve their aims and objectives from taking an idea and turning into income.

    In the first 6 months of 2022/23, Business Gateway has supported 333 enquiries, resulting in 192 new business start-ups. In the last 12 months, BG has delivered the following Local Services:

    • Expert Business Consultancy with 23 business receiving intensive consultancy support in Investor Ready Business Planning, Retail, HR and Marketing.
    • Digital Boost where 66 businesses had a digital Health Check and 41 received intensive digital support and consultancy.
    • Start-Up Grant - Enterprise Seed Fund where 22 business start-up grants issued, generating 29 FTE jobs and safeguarding 22.5 FTE.
    • Aires Grant/ Motorhome stopovers: 11 sites have become certified locations, 4 more are in process.
    • Food and Drink Sector Accelerator 11 clients, 3 of which from Mid and East Antrim through the North Channel Partnership, completed an intensive sector-based growth accelerator programme.
    • Adventure Tourism Accelerator: 16 clients.
    • Jump Start Food Accelerator, recently started with 10 clients currently on programme to take home-based food and drink business to the next level.

    In the Business Gateway National Customer Satisfaction Survey 2022/23 our local Business Gateway service achieved high levels of customer satisfaction, with the highest levels nationally (100%) expressing overall satisfaction with the service. Points included: meeting customers’ expectations, levels of predicted benefit, and speaking to an advisor.

    Chair of Economy and Resources committee, Katie Hagmann said: “Through local assistance and advice from experts, this is a very successful service, providing essential support and training to local businesses of varying sizes. I am delighted to see that this branch of our Council services continues to go from strength to strength, recognising and helping our local businesses grow, providing jobs and boosting our local economy.”

    Vice Chair, Sean Marshall said: “Whatever your business needs, I would encourage our local businesses, from start-ups to the more established to make contact with our Business Gateway Team to find out what support they can give. They can offer sound business advice, market intelligence and access to an extensive network of contacts across Scotland, essential to enterprises of any size.”

    To find out more go to: https://www.bgateway.com/local-offices/dumfries-and-
    galloway/local-support

    ENDS
  • Revitalising our Town Centres.

    Monday, 07 November 2022 12:19

    Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (E&R) (15 Nov) will be asked to agree to allocations from the £1million 2022/23 Town Centre Living Fund, which aims to provide more affordable homes within walking distance of existing local services.

    The regeneration of town centres continues to be a priority, with the Council Plan 2017-22
    committing to invest £1million a year in the Town Centre Living Fund (TCLF). This is funded from revenue generated by reducing the Council Tax discount on second and long-term unoccupied homes. This funding must be utilised in support of the delivery of local housing priorities.

    Members of the committee will be asked to:

    ? Allocate an additional £100k from the Council Tax on second homes budget to the 2022/23 Town Centre Living Fund.

    ? Allocate £250k from the 2022/23 Town Centre Projects budget to support the delivery of the Strategic Housing Investment Plan project at the former Glenbay Hotel, Glenluce. The development aims to provide ten family homes for social rent. The total cost is now estimated to be in excess of £3million, including the demolition of the existing building which has been completed.

    ? Allocate £100k from the 2022/23 Empty Properties budget to support the renovation of Dunbae House, Stranraer. Planning permission has been awarded conditionally for change of use to form five flatted dwelling houses. Total cost of works is estimated to be in excess of £300k.

    The Local Development Plan 2 (LDP) highlights support for the Town Centre First Principle: an approach that considers the health and vibrancy of town centres from the outset. Enabling development of high quality and affordable housing in these locations increases the number of people living in our town centres while also supporting the Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration Strategic Plan.

    Chair of Economy and Resources, Katie Hagmann said: “Our Council will do all that it can to revitalise our town centres, boost the local economy, and to help people remain in their own communities. High-quality accommodation is a key driver to create footfall and support vital regeneration. It also contributes to tackling the climate crisis through lowering carbon emissions by providing homes within easy access of services and employment and reduces the need for travel by car. Finding a sustainable use for empty properties and derelict sites also helps retain and maintain our area’s built heritage.”

    Vice Chair, Sean Marshall said: “This funding enables the region to attract inward investment which helps with the areas economic recovery and stimulates town centres throughout Dumfries and Galloway. In these difficult financial times, the increasing expense of delivering affordable homes is being felt throughout the country and every effort is being made to secure funding to help meet the rising cost of construction. Analysis has shown that house prices in this region have increased by over 12% during the last year. This combined with limited open market opportunities and rising construction costs, further highlights the need to support the delivery of affordable homes.”

    ENDS
  • Dumfries and Galloway Council declares a climate emergency and commits to taking effective action.

    Monday, 07 November 2022 11:54

    In light of the Climate Emergency declared by Dumfries and Galloway Council (declaration
    agreed at Full Council in June 2019) a regional emissions baseline and strategic plan has
    been undertaken. A new Council priority has been agreed – to pursue net zero carbon status by 2025.

    Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 November 2022) will
    receive a report on the progress made in updating the baseline emissions inventory and
    engaging with departments to incorporate climate change and the climate emergency into
    plans across Council services.

    The Council continues to embed climate change considerations into all policy and practice
    risk assessments to ensure that measures to reduce carbon emissions are acted on. Our
    Council is embracing innovative measures to reduce our region's impact on climate change, and support businesses and communities that can benefit. Many projects across services are including digital options which reduce travel and consumption emissions. Collaboration with partners is ongoing in many areas.

    Our Council recognises that achieving net zero carbon emissions is a challenge that all
    people in our region will share. Therefore, the Council is establishing a Citizens' Panel to
    keep communities at the heart of decision-making and produce a Climate Change Strategic
    Action Plan. This plan will incorporate measures for reducing carbon emissions in Dumfries
    and Galloway.

    To reduce carbon emissions, the Council now has 70 fully electric vehicles (2 refuse
    collection vehicles, 1 bus, 6 vans, and 61 cars). Throughout Dumfries and Galloway,
    kerbside household recycling collections have been implemented, Council buildings are
    becoming more energy efficient, and use of electric vehicles has increased since travel
    restrictions have been eased.

    We are conscious of climate change when planning and designing new Council buildings.
    The Council has commenced design work for a new High School in Dumfries, which will use the Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard. The Council's progress towards adaptation also includes the development of a Local Flood Risk Management Plan and the
    development of flood protection schemes.

    Our Council’s Town Centre Living Fund (funded through the allocation of Council Tax on
    second homes income) helps to regenerate our town centres and address climate change by allowing people to live closer to town central services without needing to travel. Work is
    underway to develop the Council's Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy, which will promote active travel by shortening distances to places of work and leisure. The Council continues to work with the Energy Agency to deliver the Energy Efficiency Scotland: Area Based Scheme for Dumfries and Galloway, which aims to reduce domestic carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty by providing solid wall insulation to homes in the private sector.

    An accelerated energy improvement programme is being undertaken at all Council
    Buildings. A move to a lower temperature and a reduced heating season will reduce energy
    consumption. To show how savings can be made, a staff behavioural change programme
    will be developed, energy mapped monthly and individual site analysis will be done.

    Chair of the Economy and Resources Committee, Cllr Katie Hagmann said: “Our Council set ourselves a high standard when we agreed to our Climate Emergency Declaration in 2019. We knew it would not be easy, but we were determined to be ambitious. I am very pleasedto hear of all the work that is being carried out. We are leading by example; indeed, our Council’s Climate Emergency Officer is working at a national level to create a region wide approach to the roll-out of the Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Scheme. There are still more projects in the pipeline, with feasibility studies being carried out, and we have some way to go yet, but we are on the right track and making good progress so far.”

    Vice Chair, Cllr Sean Marshall said: “The Council is taking bold action on climate change.
    Local people, schools, organisations, and businesses will be supported and signposted to
    help by Dumfries and Galloway Council to cut carbon emissions and save money on energy bills. Our goal is to improve energy efficiency in people's houses and local buildings, and to develop low carbon transport solutions and sustainable waste management. By reducing costs, minimising emissions, and protecting the most vulnerable, we can reduce our impact on the environment. We are proud of our many and varied climate achievements in Dumfries and Galloway to date. Now and in the future, we look forward to the vital work and projects with our partners and communities, which will enable us to achieve our critical target of being carbon neutral by 2025.”