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 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

  • Archie appears at Gracefield

    Monday, 22 November 2021 13:15

    Archie Sutter-Watt Collection Bequest

    Gallery 1 to Friday 24 December

    Archie Sutter Watt (1915-2005) was one of Dumfries and Galloway’s best loved artists. Following his death, friends and relatives set up a trust in his name to raise funds to support art education and create a legacy of his life and work.

    First shown in Kirkcudbright Galleries in 2018, the full bequest of more than 40 artworks is being shown again at Gracefield alongside collection items from his friends and peers, such as John Maxwell and Sir William Gillies.

    Gracefield, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries

    Exhibitions open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Café 10am to 3pm

    Craft Shop Tuesday to Friday, 10.30am to 3.30pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm

    Gracefield closed 25 December to 4 January

    Reopening Wednesday 5 January at 10am

  • Printmakers at Gracefield

    Monday, 22 November 2021 13:05

    More than 25 artists are showing a selection of framed and unframed original prints using etching, linocut, screenprint, collagraph and other printmaking techniques in a special Christmas exhibition at Gracefield Gallery 2 in Dumfries.

    Artwork can be bought off the wall and from the print browsers, giving the ideal opportunity to buy a thoughtful original Christmas 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, ideal stocking fillers.

    Much printmaking uses traditional processes like etching on metal plates or carving blocks of lino or wood. Others use more modern processes like screen print or collagraph and some work with a combination of different hand printing techniques to produce images that have unique and exciting qualities.

    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 own original and unusual artworks.

    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.

    Colin Blanchard, founder member of the Printmakers’ group, 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. We held our inaugural show in December last year and this year we’re aiming to include more artists and an even more diverse range of work. In the longer term our aim is to help promote and strengthen printmaking all across the region with printmaking masterclasses, better equipment and training in the Gracefield print studio and more artists seeing the potential in print technics.”

    The group also aims to help new and younger artists to learn the skills required and explore the many and varied possibilities of making prints. Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Gracefield Print Studio and joining SWSP (which has separate membership scheme), can e:

    Gracefield, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries

    Exhibitions open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Café 10am to 3pm

    Craft Shop Tuesday to Friday, 10.30am to 3.30pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm

    Gracefield closed 25 December to 4 January

    Reopening Wednesday 5 January at 10am

  • Move More Gently

    Friday, 19 November 2021 18:17

    The Council is working with Macmillan Cancer Support to deliver Gentle Movement as part of the Move More physical activity programme.

    Macmillan Move More recognises that for people living with and beyond cancer even a small amount of gentle exercise can help reduce fatigue and leave people feeling better.

    Gentle Movement is based on Quigong, an ancient Chinese practice aligning breathing, physical activity, mental and spiritual awareness. Classes are ideal for anyone affected by cancer but are also suitable for those with a long-term condition.

    Until recently, only 2 instructors could deliver this very valuable activity. But, after a recruitment campaign, 10 new volunteers undertook Gentle Movement instructor training in September. Since then, the instructors have received Macmillan Core Volunteering training and some have recently passed first aid training.

    For more information or to sign up for Move More contact your local Health and Wellbeing Team:

    • Annandale and Eskdale, t: 01461 204 741
    • Nithsdale, t: 01387 244 401
    • Stewartry, t: 01556 505 724
    • Wigtownshire, t: 01776 707 731

    Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “It's great to see this new addition to our Move More programme. This will help people affected by cancer to live healthier and more independent lives.”

    Councillor John Martin, vice chair, said: “Gentle Movement will be a welcome addition to the region and, by continuing to offer a range of physical activity opportunities, we're contributing to people's improved health and wellbeing.”

  • Good COP for NWCC

    Friday, 19 November 2021 17:06

    In May, North West Community Campus (NWCC) in Dumfries was selected to represent the South of Scotland at the 1.5 Max Summit in advance of COP26.

    This was a huge opportunity for pupils and staff to be involved with COP26 activities.

    The summit allowed school representatives be represented at a high profile event and have their climate change views listened to.

    A spokesman said: “This has been an ambitious project and a fantastic opportunity for our young people to make a significant difference in initiating a conversation on climate change and embed climate change education into the school curriculum.”

    Some learners participated in the 3-day summit at The Bridge in Dumfries, engaging with participants from other Scottish schools and schools in Nepal, Mozambique and Malawi.

    The first task was to identify a problem statement of climate change that effects Dumfries and Galloway. This was flooding, which was also a problem identified by some of the partners.

    The group then found out more about progress made by different countries towards climate change as discussed at the COP held in Paris Cop 2015.

    The groups also heard from keynote speakers, including:

    • Dr Maarten van Aalst, director of Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
    • Carmen Munhequete, principal consultant at Resource Management based in Maputo, Mozambique

    They gave a first-hand account of how climate change has an effect on communities.

    Video stories showed how our behaviour is impacting others around the world and group members were shocked to see the impact of our behaviour on waste management and single use plastic.

    The main task of the summit was for group members to come up with a product based on the problem of flooding, to help protect the local environment and combat climate change.

    The group developed an action plan of changes that can be taken forward in NWCC to educate members of the community on climate change and encourage behaviour change in school.

    Comments from participants included:

    “I wanted to know more about climate change and I joined to help improve the school and the environment.”

    “I joined to try to make a difference and have my voice heard.”

    “I learned about how badly our actions can affect countries, especially poorer developing countries”

    “I learned how much we can do to change the way we live”

    “I learned about how bigger countries are having a big effect on climate change and the poorer countries are experiencing the consequences of that”

    The schools involved are now (virtually) meeting regularly and are motivated more than ever in giving Learning for Sustainability a high profile in school.

  • To the obscura via potions and porridge

    Friday, 19 November 2021 16:49

    Judith Hewitt is the new Museum Curator (East). Judith, previously manager at the Devil’s Porridge Museum, will be responsible for 6 museums in the East of the region: Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, Burns House, Robert Burns Centre, Old Bridge House, Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum, and Annan Museum.

    Judith was born in Edinburgh and moved to Derby aged 8. She studied History at Nottingham University and then for a Masters in Local and Regional History. She was a secondary school History teacher in Lincoln for 7 years then, in 2013, moved to Cornwall to manage the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. Judith managed The Devil’s Porridge Museum from 2018 to 2021.

    She is now Museums Curator for the East of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Museums Service. This includes Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, Burns House, the Robert Burns Centre Museum, The Old Bridge House, Annan Museum and Sanquhar Museum.

    Judith will be holding meet the curator sessionsat sites across the region in the next month, providing an opportunity to speak with her informally, ask questions, make suggestions and discuss what is happening at local museums. There will also be an opportunity to attend digital meetings if preferred.

    To ensure adequate seating and safe occupancy levels during the pandemic, e: or t: 01387 253 374 to book a seat and specify which venue and date you want to attend.


    Museum to be discussed

    Date and time

    Annan Museum

    Annan Museum

    Tue 30 Nov, 6 to 7pm

    A’ The Airts, Sanquhar

    Sanquhar Tollbooth Museum

    Tue 7 Dec, 6 to 7pm

    Dumfries Museum

    Dumfries Museum and the Old Bridge House

    Thu 2Dec, 6 to 7pm

    Robert Burns Centre, Dumfries

    Burns House and the Robert Burns Centre

    Wed 8,

    6 to 7pm

    Online 1

    Teams meeting

    All museums: Dumfries Museum, Annan Museum, Sanquhar Museum, Robert Burns Centre, Burns House, The Old Bridge House

    Fri 3 Dec

    3 to 4pm

    Online 2

    Teams meeting

    All museums: Dumfries Museum, Annan Museum, Sanquhar Museum, Robert Burns Centre, Burns House, The Old Bridge House

    Thu 9 Dec, 10 to 11am

  • Dumfries and Galloway Council help launch new anti-bullying reward programme

    Friday, 19 November 2021 14:17

    respectme, Scotland’s Anti-Bullying Service, joined representatives from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education Services team, for the official launch of the new ‘respectme reward’ national programme for schools and youth services across Scotland.

    Held during Anti-Bullying Week (15-19 November), the event celebrated the success of the piloted project staged during 2020/21 involving six schools; Dumfries Academy, Dalbeattie High School, Penpont Primary, Sandhead Primary, Drummore Primary and North West Community Campus. Featuring a validated self-assessment toolkit, the ‘respectme reward’ programme is designed to help schools review their anti-bullying policy and practice, acknowledge success and plan for future improvements.

    All six schools were presented with their ‘respectme reward’ certificates during the event following involvement with the pilot. The partnership has led to Dumfries and Galloway Council receiving a ‘Highly Commended’ recognition from The Pearson National Teaching Awards 2021 in the category ‘Impact through Partnership’. During the event respectme Director, Katie Ferguson, outlined the next steps for the ambitious programme to involve more schools across Scotland.

    Leading the design of the new reward scheme and school engagement programme, which has this week picked up the Ben Cohen Standup Foundation Champion Award 2021 for Best School Programme, Lorraine Glass, Policy and Improvement Manager from respectme, commented: “I am delighted to see this important new development in our anti-bullying work come to the national stage following the successful pilot with Dumfries and Galloway Council. I owe a huge thank you to the six schools for all their hard work and commitment during the process and for being the first schools to receive their certificate.”

    “Our role is not one of inspection or enforcing, instead we seek to build solid relationships and act as enablers to help guide, uphold, encourage, celebrate, validate and share good practice wherever we can, and to support improvement and change through respectful challenge and thought leadership. This approach helps nurture a culture of growth rather than one of compliance.”

    Chair of the council’s Education and Learning committee, Jeff Leaver, said: "Two of our council’s priorities are providing the best start in life for all our children and protecting our more vulnerable people. Being involved in the pilot process of the new ‘respectme reward’ programme shows how proactive we are being to try and ensure that all our children and young people are safe and happy.”

    Vice Chair of the Education and Learning committee, Ros Surtees, said: “Bullying can have such an impact on children and young people’s lives so it’s encouraging to see schools in Dumfries and Galloway champion this new programme. With the toolkit to hand for our education staff and parents, we can help raise awareness of the issues children and young people face when it comes to bullying and seek to improve them.”

    The self-assessment process strengthens and supports a children’s rights approach by engaging young people in feedback surveys and whole-school anti-bullying conversations and initiatives.During the process adult voices from parents, carers, staff and volunteers are all gathered independently to truly understand and bring further improvement to creating a safe, happy and inclusive space for children and young people to learn, play and grow up in.

    If you want to find out more about the ‘respectme reward’ visit or email

  • Funding to empower local communities in D&G

    Monday, 15 November 2021 15:55

    Community Led Economic Regeneration Fund: 1st Round 2021/22

    Dumfries and Galloway Council is pleased to announce the launch of the first round of the Community Led Economic Regeneration Fund (CLERF). The CLERF aims to provide grant funding to community led organisations so they can plan and develop economic and place-based regeneration projects that are locally led and have a strong fit with local needs and ambitions.

    The purpose of the grants are to provide capital funding to support the development of projects which will drive community led inclusive economic regeneration and growth to transform our region’s towns and neighbourhoods.

    The fund is now open and community groups and organisations with eligible projects are invited to apply for grants. Three streams of grant funding are available to community led groups and organisations:

    • Feasibility Grants
    • Design Development Grants and
    • Construction Readiness Grants.

    Only one grant per organisation will be considered during each round of funding.

    Rob Davidson, Chair of Economy and Resources Committee said: “This is great news for community led organisations across our region who are hoping to consolidate and further their activities through projects that will deliver facilities and services to meet community need. This Community Led Economic Regeneration Fund will assist community groups to take their project from an idea to the point of being able to deliver their capital regeneration project on site, which is a welcome development for Dumfries and Galloway.”

    Archie Dryburgh, Vice Chair of E&R Committee said: “We are delighted that the Fund is supporting community groups to further the development of their projects and to assist in attracting funding opportunities to community led projects in our region.”

    Those interested in applying to the 1st Round of funding should first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form. The Fund will be open for EOI submissions from Monday 15th November 2021. The EOI form can be found at Community Led Regeneration Fund ( and these should be submitted to no later than the closing date of 12noon on Monday 13th December 2021. Those who receive a positive response to their EOI will be provided with a full application pack that will enable them to submit a more detailed application for their project to enable a decision to be made in March 2022. Successful applicants will then be issued with an Offer of Grant and will be able to draw down the funding.

    *For all enquiries about the Community Led Economic Regeneration Fund, please

  • Annan selected to feature in new Climate Action Towns Project

    Wednesday, 10 November 2021 10:40

    Sent on behalf ofArchitecture and Design Scotland

    Annan has been selected as one of Scotland’s first Climate Action Towns. The initiative is a Scottish Government funded project delivered by Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS), Scotland’s design agency, and is aimed at supporting towns to tackle the impact of the climate emergency. The announcement was made by Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Just Transition, on 7th November.

    The Climate Action Towns project will work with local people and organisations in small towns across Scotland to empower and support communities to take place-based climate action. They will do this in a way that takes account of the unique challenges and opportunities each town faces.

    Minister for Just Transition Richard Lochhead said:“We all have a part to play in tackling the climate emergency. The Climate Action Towns project aims to support and empower communities to have a say on how their local area should change as part of a fair and just transition to net zero.

    “I look forward to seeing how the towns that are taking part rise to the challenge and find ways that will not only make a difference locally but to Scotland and indeed the world.”

    Jim MacDonald, Chief Executive of A&DS said:“The climate emergency demands urgent action from us all. For Scotland to adapt to the impacts of climate change, we are all going to need to work together to adapt the ways we live, work, play and move in our cities, towns and villages. Considering that half of Scotland’s population live in towns, it is vital towns are a key focus in the fight against climate change.”

    Dougie Campbell, who is the Environment Champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council said:

    “Our local authority made a commitment to be net zero by 2025 so we’re delighted that Annan has been selected to participate on this project. The recent severe weather event which impacted so heavily on the community provides further evidence that we need to adapt to the reality of climate change. Annan has already been selected as one of the key locations for our Citizens Panel ensuring that people in this community are empowered to influence decisions we make as part of our Climate Change plan. The participation of Annan on this project will be invaluable for Annan and all of our region’s communities on our just transition to net zero.“

    Cllr Sean Marshall, Chair of Annan Regeneration Steering Group said: "I welcome the announcement that Annan has been chosen as one of Scotland’s first Climate Action Towns. This gives Annan Regeneration Steering Group an opportunity to review and adjust our current Annan Masterplan, and through potential new funding sources, introduce a range of projects in Annan that will tackle the current climate emergency."

    Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: “South of Scotland Enterprise is delighted to be involved in the Climate Action Towns initiative, and the timely announcement of Annan’s inclusion into this exciting programme.

    “Achieving Net Zero will require all of us to work together to achieve our collective goal, which is exactly the approach the Climate Action Towns partnership allows us all to achieve.

    “By working alongside Architecture and Design Scotland, the local community, Dumfries and Galloway Council, third sector, businesses and other stakeholders, we believe Annan will see tangible changes and subsequent benefits, through this co-ordinated approach which is focussed around climate action.”

    In addition to Annan, the towns involved in the Climate Action Towns project are:

    • Highlands - Invergordon and Alness
    • Argyll & Bute - Campbeltown
    • North Ayrshire - Stevenston
    • North Lanarkshire - Holytown
    • West Lothian - Blackburn

    The Climate Change Committee (CCC) – the UK’s independent adviser on tackling climate change – has estimated that over 60% of the changes needed to reach net zero will be, at least in part, behavioural or societal. For this reason, Climate Action Towns is focusing on the power of ‘place-based’ action, which can include a wide spectrum of approaches: from the creation of resilient food networks; to the adoption of the 20-minute neighbourhood by place planning; to the creation of community renewable energy co-operatives; right down to simple principles like whether we choose to build new buildings or refurbish and adapt existing ones.

    The Climate Action Towns work will build on and be informed by the Eight Principles of a Carbon Conscious Place. Developed by Architecture & Design Scotland, the Eight Principles offer illustrated examples to help guide and inspire people to support a whole-place approach when responding to the climate emergency.

    The project will be driven by collaboration between local people and agencies, and their collective vision of what their Climate Ready Town looks like. The outcome of the work with the towns will be used to outline learning for inclusive climate action at a town scale that can then be applied in places across Scotland and beyond.


  • No one to be left behind in Council’s economic recovery

    Friday, 05 November 2021 17:44

    The Council’s Economy and Resources committee (16 November) will consider a report giving an update of the on developments in the Skills, Employment, and Inclusion workstream of the Economic Recovery Plan 2019/2023, agreed the Council in July 2020

    The report will:

    • Provide an update on the support offered by the council for young person’s employability and skill development through the UK Government Kickstart scheme and the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee.
    • Provide information on new provision through No One Left Behind – Long Term Unemployed Intermediate Labour Market announced as part of the Scottish Government Covid Recovery Strategy: for a fairer future.
    • Outline the joint Scottish and Local Government announcement on the implementation of the second phase of No One Left Behind and the role for local authorities.
    • Provide information on existing activity in the Council’s employability approach with partners through No One Left Behind and the Young Person’s Guarantee support available to young people.

    The committee will be asked to:

    • Note that Employability and Skills has worked with Organisational Development and other Council services to exceed the target for Kickstart opportunities, providing an increased number and wider range of opportunities for young people aged 16-24.
    • Note the additional No One Left Behind funding for local Intermediate Labour Market opportunities for those aged 25+ and the requirement for a Delivery Proposition from the Local Employability Partnership.
    • Note the update on the No One Left Behind employability approach, including the joint announcement from the Scottish Government and CoSLA of the Phase 2 implementation in April 2022.
    • Note the update on current activity and the approach being taken by Dumfries and Galloway’s Local Employability and Skills Partnership and the funding available to support this.

    The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges within the labour market, with real rises in unemployment. In September 2021 the Dumfries & Galloway claimant count was 3,530 people and 4.1% of the working aged population (aged 16 to 64). Whilst this has been reducing since early 2021, the figure remains 21% higher than pre-pandemic levels. The number of people receiving Universal Credit in Dumfries and Galloway in September 2021 was 11,885 (13.8% of working aged people), having increased by 69% since the start of the pandemic.

    The employment rate for Dumfries and Galloway was 68.7% between July 2020 and June 2021, down from 73.0% the previous year. The unemployment rate for Dumfries and Galloway between July 2020 and June 2021 was 2,900 and 4.5%, up from 1,800 and 2.7% the previous year. In August/September 2021, there were 1,600 people on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a further 1,600 individuals who were on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

    Councillor Rob Davidson, chair of the Economy and Resources committee, said: “We face significant labour market challenges as we work to recover from the severe economic impact of the Covid pandemic. Inequality has increased during the pandemic, with real hardship experienced by vulnerable groups, including those on lower income, fewer hours and those experiencing poverty. Our Council is working with a range of partners to alleviate the negative impact of Covid.”

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, vice chair, said” A number of groups have been adversely impacted by the Covid pandemic, including older people, ethnic minorities, disabled people, and young people. The challenge has been especially evident for young people entering the labour market. We must address this as we strive to recover post-Covid.”

  • Council heads for Net Zero

    Friday, 05 November 2021 17:38

    The Council’s Economy and Resources committee (16 November) will consider a report on the Council’s mandatory Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Report (CCDR) for the financial year 2020-21, to be submitted to Scottish Government by 30 November 2021.

    The committee will be asked to:

    • Note the progress made towards delivering the public body duties for climate change. This includes a significant reduction in waste emissions as well as a reduction in stationary, transport and buildings emissions. The total shows that Dumfries and Galloway Council again have reduced the carbon footprint of the authority.
    • Note that, by increasing the number of fully electric vehicles, robustly managing waste, disposing of older less efficient buildings and the refurbishing existing buildings, the Council has reduced its carbon emissions.
    • Note that these reductions have been made in a year where Covid-19 had a significant impact on Council activity. In addition, and due to the requirements to ventilate buildings, particularly in the winter, it is anticipated that energy use in Council buildings will increase over the year 2021/22.

    The Climate Change (Duties of Public Bodies: Reporting Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2015 came into force in November 2015 as secondary legislation made under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The Order requires bodies to prepare reports on compliance with climate change duties.

    Information included in the CCDR reports is collated by Scottish Government. A Climate Change Public Sector Report is produced annually. This helps to monitor public sector progress and inform the future direction of climate change policy, legislation, funding and support programmes.

    In June 2019, the Council declared a Climate Change Emergency and now has a new priority linked to climate. Alongside this declaration was a 12-point plan to reduce emissions across the region.

    Councillor Rob Davidson, chair of the Economy and Resources committee, said: “It’s essential that we continue to step up our actions significantly. Measures to tackle climate change must be embedded in everything our Council does. With our leadership and commitment our Council will be in the vanguard of addressing climate change in our region.”

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, vice chair, said: “Our climate emergency declaration states that Dumfries and Galloway will be a net zero region by 2025 as we urgently respond to climate change. We’re developing a citizens’ panel to support and inform our future activity.”

  • Council to set strategy for vacant and derelict land and property

    Friday, 05 November 2021 17:32

    The Council’s Economy and Resources committee (16 November) will consider a report on the Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy.

    The committee will be asked to:

    • Note that an initial working group of Council officers has been established to take forward the development of a Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy.
    • Agree the scope of the Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy.
    • Agree to allocate funding from Council Tax on second homes income to create an officer post to assist with the development and delivery of the Vacant and Derelict Land and Property Strategy

    The Council Plan 2017-22 sets out a commitment to develop a derelict property strategy, in particular to make town centre regeneration a priority. This strategy is intended to link closely to the Regional Economic Strategy (RES), Local Housing Strategy (LHS) and Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP).

    The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 (LDP) also promotes the principle of reusing brownfield, vacant and derelict land and buildings, instead of greenfield land, when identifying sites for development. Vacant and derelict land disproportionately affect communities in more deprived areas.

    By prioritising the reuse of persistent vacant and derelict land, and protecting existing natural capital, the Council can ensure that future investment goes into areas where it is most needed, supporting shared ambitions for place, community regeneration, town centres, and 20-minute neighbourhoods.

    In June 2019, Dumfries and Galloway Council declared a climate emergency with the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. A focus on land reuse could also play a major role in tackling climate change. Reusing brownfield land in preference to greenfield sites can help reduce the impact of development on the climate by reducing the need for residents to travel long distances for work and leisure.

    Councillor Rob Davidson, chair of the Economy and Resources committee, said: “Derelict and vacant land can blight our communities and create eyesores for residents. It’s also incredibly wasteful when we have real demand for more housing and know that repopulating our town centres in particular will bring significant economic benefits. We will draw up a Vacant and Derelict Property Strategy to tackle this problem and bring unused sites back into productive use.”

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, vice chair, said: “In order to make progress in delivering our housing priorities, it is essential that we identify suitable contractors, strive to minimise escalating costs and work in an environmentally sustainable way so that we can meet our climate objectives.”

  • Council plans to reinvigorate economy in Stranraer and the West

    Friday, 05 November 2021 17:22

    The Council’s Economy and Resources committee (16 November) will consider a report updating members on the 2018 strategic programme on Reshaping Stranraer and the West Region.

    The report will outline activity since the strategic programme was agreed, including the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and local community developments and events, and identify opportunities to strengthen local partnerships.

    The report also includes information on the future of the George Hotel site and seeks committee agreement to delegate officers to work with potential development partners.

    The committee will be asked to:

    • Consider the update on the 2018 strategic outline programme for Reshaping Stranraer and the West of the Region.
    • Note the UK and Scottish Governments’ commitment to investment in aspects of the programme secured through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, and other funding streams.
    • Agree that the Council should adopt the concept of a One Waterfront approach to the future development of Stranraer seafront and continue to work closely with communities, strategic partners, and local businesses, focused on opportunities to realise local community ambitions and the supporting capacity to achieve this.
    • Note the outline opportunity for the redevelopment of the former George Hotel, working with a strategic development partner.
    • Delegate to the Head of Economy and Development to work with potential strategic developers to support them to address site constraints, with a view to secure development of the site, which positively contributes to the local community and town heritage.

    Councillor Rob Davidson, chair of the Economy and Resources committee, said: “We must ensure there is a focus on supporting the west of the region so that it can contribute to the economy, locally and nationally.Our strategic programme brings together a series of Council activities and projects in the area to provide clearer links to local and community initiatives and events. It coordinates and aligns economic development support with the Priorities and Commitments in our Council Plan. ”

    Councillor Archie Dryburgh, vice chair, said: “Our strategic approach demonstrates the need for investment and support in the west of our region, where indicators of deprivation and its effects are clear. By working with a range of appropriate partners and initiatives we can reinvigorate the local economy and deliver long-lasting positive impacts”

  • Annandale & Eskdale Sports Awards

    Wednesday, 03 November 2021 13:55

    The award winners for the Annandale and Eskdale Sports Awards for 2019 have recently been announced during the month of October, 18 months after the scheduled event.

    The awards that are organised by Active Schools and Community Sport for Dumfries and Galloway Council, were due to be held at the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm on Friday 27th March 2020 just days after the country went into lockdown.

    The awards for 2019 received an excellent standard of nomination and the ceremony would normally recognise other outstanding achievements in school and community sport for that year. It was always hoped the ceremony would take place as planned however, with restrictions still in place it was decided to present the winners locally during the month of October.

    The Small School Sports Initiative of the Year Award which was sponsored by the Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee was won by the partnership school of Carrutherstown and Cummertrees Primary School. All children had the opportunity to take part in at least one activity ranging from swimming, netball, football, rugby, multi-sports, tennis and gymnastics, winning many local and regional competitions. The school also participated in a wide variety of well-being and inclusive sporting activities, including piloting a 'Shelf the Sugar' initiative in partnership with the NHS which led to a 63% reduction in sugar consumption across the partnership.

    The Large School Sports Initiative of the Year Award was sponsored by The Dumfries and Galloway Standard. Runners up were Langholm Primary School for their growth in extracurricular activity and sporting success due to the contributions of external individuals and organisations. This has raised levels of physical activity, helped inspire younger children and led to sporting success at regional and Scottish level including medals at national level in sportshall athletics, gymnastics and sprint relay.

    The winning school was Newington Primary School from Annan who maintained their sportscotland Gold School Sport Award status and achieved success at local, regional and national level. The school encourages a healthy lifestyle and life choices. It keeps sport at the heart of the school’s aims, directing finance to support children taking part in and enjoying sport.

    Annan Travel were sponsors of the Volunteer of the Year Award which received inspiring nominations of people doing excellent work in our communities. The winner was a group of four ladies from Langholm Rugby Club for their dedication and hard work in providing hospitality at the club for over 20 years. They keep their diaries clear until fixtures are announced and make sure that visiting teams are well fed for their journey home. They also cater for club functions including the biennial dinner, pensioners day, pre-match meals and ladies day.

    Runner-Up was Barry Henderson for his devotion to Langholm Legion Football Club. Following an illustrious playing career with over 500 matches for the club, Barry became manager for several years as well as undertaking secretarial duties for the club. Known locally as Mr Langholm Legion, with a family devoted to the club, his leadership has helped secure two trophies and two promotions.

    Sponsored by Magnox Limited and to recognise the contribution of young people in sport was the Year of Young People Award. The runner up was Ava Hume from Moffat for her volunteering, organisation, and promotion of sporting opportunities at Moffat Academy. Ava is an extremely committed, dedicated and self-motivated young individual. She leads and supports several activities in the school, raising levels of participation, none more so than in the sport of Netball.

    The winner was 17-year-old Emily Richardson from Eastriggs who has been coaching gymnastics voluntarily with Dumfries Y Gymnastics Club for over three years, regularly committing twenty hours per week. In 2019, her efforts in gymnastics were recognised when she was made a member of the Scottish Gymnastics Youth Forum and shortlisted for Scottish Gymnastics Volunteer of the Year.

    The Coach of the Year Award, sponsored by sportscotland, was presented to Terry Bruton from Spartans Boxing Club in Annan for his hard work, commitment and enthusiasm developing the sport of boxing in Lower Annandale. He has secured facilities and affiliation to Boxing Scotland allowing promising young boxers the opportunity to progress. Without the avenue of structured boxing sessions, these young people could be at risk of offending but instead channels their energies and helps develop many life skills through the sport.

    Runner-up was athletics coach John Little for his work with young athletes. John’s coaching experience helped four young athletes from Annan to win medals at the Scottish Schools and Scottish Athletics Age Group Championships. Two were subsequently selected to represent Scotland in the Schools International Athletics meeting.

    The Young Sports Personality of the Year Award was again sponsored by Gretna Gateway and included thirteen nominations of the highest calibre. Receiving a Rising Star Award for someone who had made significant progress in 2019 was 15-year-old athlete Molly Reville. Molly won the Indoor and Outdoor National Long Jump events where she set new championship records. She also secured the Scottish Schools 75m hurdles title and represented Edinburgh Athletics Club who won the UK Youth Development League.

    Runner-up was Finlay Waugh from Annan who had an outstanding year winning all U17 Scottish and Scottish Schools titles at 100m and 200m. He broke an U17 Championship Record and won bronze medals for Scotland at the Schools International and another bronze medal at the World Youth Games.

    The winner in 2019 was 17-year-old Ava Simpson who became the 50m Backstroke Scottish Age Group Champion and won bronze in the 200m. At the British Summer Championships, Ava swam times that qualified her to race at the Olympic Trials in London in April 2020.

    There were four nominations in the Team of the Year Award which was sponsored by Rostrum Sportswear Ltd of Lochmaben. Runners up were St Mungo’s Disability Tennis Team who after joining the Scottish Learning Disability Tennis League in 2018 competed successfully all over Scotland winning several competitions. In November 2019 they won 7 medals including 5 gold at the Great Britain National Learning Disabilities Tennis Championships in Sunderland.

    Winners were the young SUPERteam from Annan and District Athletics Club. Freya Blaikie, Matilda Brockley, Lyvie Bryson and Neve McGoldrick, four primary school children who in 2019 competed as a team in sprint, throw, jump and as a relay team. They overcome 71 teams indoors and 75 teams outdoors to be crowned Scottish Athletics double SUPERteam winners.

    Sponsored by Ashleybank Investments, the Lifetime Achievement Award was won by Andrew Armstrong from Beechgrove Bowling Club in Moffat. Andrew has been involved in bowling for over 27 years as president of Beechgrove Bowling Club and is a member of the Dumfriesshire Bowling Committee. He has been umpiring for over 15 years with nearly 10 of those as an International Technical Official. Despite travelling widely on bowling duty, he always has time to coach children at the local club and schools.

    Runner up was Maitland Pollock from Lochmaben Golf Club who for over 20 years has made a huge impact by coaching and promoting junior golf in the region. He has been a member of Lochmaben Golf Club for over 30 years, holding many positions on the committee. He is one of four level 3 coaches in Scotland who volunteers, encouraging hundreds of young people into the sport.

    The awards also recognised some special achievements in 2019 including Langholm Rugby Club who were presented with a Special Recognition Award for being shortlisted at the Sunday Mail and Sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards in 2019.

    The Sports Personality of the Year Award was sponsored by Anderson’s Joinery and went to a young man who had a fantastic year in 2019. Ryan McCormack from Lockerbie started the curling year winning a silver medal with Team Kinnear at the Scottish Junior Curling Championships in Aberdeen. With his team, he went on to win the Asham Under 21 Slam and trained twice weekly at the Scottish Curling Academy in Stirling. The pinnacle of 2019 was being selected for Team Whyte in February to represent Scotland at the World Junior Curling Championships in Canada where they won a bronze medal. He was then selected for Team GB at the World University Games in Russia competing against some of the best curlers in the world and managed to return home with another bronze medal.

    Runner-up was Lewis Bell from Langholm, who after many years of drive, dedication and determination had his best year on the athletics circuit to date. He won the Scottish National Athletics U20 200m title at Grangemouth and followed this up with a silver medal in the men’s national final over the same distance. He won two bronze medals over 200m and 400m at the Scottish University and College Championships which won him the ‘Most Improved Athlete’ title from the University of Abertay. He was selected for the Kingdom Athletics team that competed in the UK Youth Development League Finals and was awarded Hawkshill Harriers ‘Best Male Performance’ of the year. This was for his performance in the National 200m and was joined in good company with Laura Muir the female recipient.

    Chair of Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee, Councillor Stephen Thompson said “Although late due to Covid-19, these awards are a great opportunity to recognise the sporting talents in Annandale and Eskdale. However, the back-story is just as important. The amount of time and effort put in by all the teachers, coaches, volunteers and parents is what enables the opportunities for our talent to participate and progress. We are very lucky that sport in Annandale and Eskdale is in such good hands and long may it continue.”

    Vice Chair of Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee, Councillor Adam Wilson said, “The Awards are always an excellent opportunity to celebrate the enormous effort and talents of the sporting stars of Annandale and Eskdale. The quality and quantity of nominations again highlights the strength and depth of sporting talent. It also highlights the fantastic work behind the scenes and every nominee would have been a worthy winner”.

    Calum Graham from Active Schools and Community Sport added “These awards should have been presented four days after the country went into lockdown in March 2020. It was always hoped to still stage the celebratory event, but significant time had passed and restrictions hadn’t reduced enough to let that happen. However, it has been worthwhile presenting these awards locally in the winner’s own localities where their work is hugely appreciated.

  • 1/3 of Council procurement spent with local businesses

    Tuesday, 02 November 2021 14:25

    The Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation committee (9 November 2021) will consider a report on the Council’s procurement performance and activities.

    The Report that will be considered by the Committee shows that during quarter 1 of this financial year a total of £16,334,575 of Council procurement spend has been spent with local businesses which operate in Dumfries and Galloway. This was the equivalent of 33% of all Council procurement spend.

    The Report also highlights that 78% of all suppliers awarded a contract during quarter 1 have committed to paying the Living Wage. The Council can not legally take salary and wages in to account but can ask for recording purposes as part of the Council’s own commitment as a Living Wage Employer.

    Councillor Adam Wilson, Chair of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation committee, said: “We know that spending public money locally helps support our local economy and communities to thrive. Our Council has made significant progress in working with local businesses to support their involvement in procurement processes which in turn supports and creates local jobs.”

    Councillor Katie Hagmann, vice chair, said: “I’m delighted that our Council is positively influencing local employers to pay the Living Wage. This is key to ensuring people’s financial wellbeing following the impact of the Covid pandemic.”
  • Significant improvement in Council Procurement Compliance

    Tuesday, 02 November 2021 14:23

    The Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee (9 November) will consider a report on the Council’s procurement compliance.

    The Report that will be considered by Elected Members shows that the Council’s overall procurement compliance currently stands at 85.4% of all spend. This is a significant improvement on the 51% rate of compliance spend which was reported during financial year 2015/16.

    Where spend is deemed non compliant this means it has not been procured and spent in line with the Council’s agreed Procurement Standing orders.

    In December 2020, the Council agreed to implement the recommendations from the Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee’s Review of financial procedures and procurement standing orders. The Recommendations included an action to carry out an amnesty for any non-compliant spend to be reported to Elected Members. This would then allow for full analysis of all non-compliant to be carried out and for a comprehensive and transparent Contracts Register to be collated and published.

    Councillor Adam Wilson, Chair of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee said, “The Report being considered by Elected Members shows the significant improvement that has taken place across our Council to ensure that the Procurement Standing Orders agreed by Full Council are followed in spending public money.

    "The leadership shown by Elected Members through our recent Review on financial procedures and procurement standing orders and previous reviews through the Scrutiny Committee has helped to drive this continuous improvement. We have seen a significant turn around over the last 5 years which can give communities and local businesses confidence that Dumfries and Galloway Council is ensuring value for money and supporting the local economy with every pound of public money that is being spent.”

    Councillor Katie Hagmann, Vice Chair of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee said, “The significant improvement in procurement compliance will help to restore local confidence in how our Council spends public money. However, there is still work to be done. A number of actions are still being progressed from our Committee’s Review to ensure the rate of compliance increases further.

    "Our Council will also use this Review to create a comprehensive and transparent Contracts Register which will be published on our website and so available for easy public consumption.”

  • Addressing climate change through forestry and biodiversity

    Tuesday, 02 November 2021 14:19

    The Council’s Climate Emergency committed the Council to an ambitious aspiration of becoming a carbon neutral region by 2025.

    The Adoption of the Climate Emergency Declaration and the supporting 12-point plan by in June 2019 created a starting point to focus the management and reduction of the Council’s carbon footprint and to lead by example when encouraging partners and stakeholders to do likewise.

    The Council Budget agreed by elected members on 4 March this year made a commitment to update and refresh the Local Biodiversity Action Plan and the Forestry and Woodland Strategy. At the meeting of the Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee (9 November) members will be asked to agree to allocating resources of £60,000 to update the documents over the next 18 months to fulfil this commitment.

    The wealth of unique and diverse natural capital assets in Dumfries and Galloway provides a wide range of economic, social, and environmental benefits for the region. The fundamental role of the natural environment and biodiversity in providing essential natural services and benefits for our economy, health and well-being is widely understood. The Council can play a key and central role in supporting positive biodiversity action through their leadership at the local level and through engagement with communities.

    Nature-based Solutions have a critical role to play in responding to climate change, with a role in removing carbon, preventing emissions and helping us adapt to the impacts of climate change and there have been significant changes in forestry since the FWS was first produced.

    The existing Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) was published in 2009 and the Forestry and Woodland Strategy (FWS) in 2014. The documents need to be updated to reflect legislative changes, regional priorities, and community aspirations, and to help respond to the dual challenge of climate change and biodiversity loss. These documents were previously prepared inhouse, but to reflect the complex, everchanging and complex nature of the subject, additional external resources will need to be commissioned.

    Scotland’s Land Use Strategy is a strategic document that sets out the Scottish Government vision for sustainable land use in Scotland. The Scottish Government has committed to the establishment of Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) and the South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Council) were selected as one of five areas to be regional pilots in 2021.

    Chair of FPT Committee, Adam Wilson, said: “Our Council is clear that we have a leadership role here in Dumfries and Galloway to ensure we protect and enhance biodiversity. A number of community groups and local organisations are doing fantastic work in protecting local wildlife and I hope our new Strategies will reflect this already vital work and go further.

    Our Administration budget agreed by elected members earlier this year committed to taking action to tackle climate change. Protecting and enhancing our local biodiversity and natural environment is essential to tackle climate change.”

    Vice Chair, Katie Hagman said: “We are in a period of national policy change as the Scottish Government responds to the twin challenges of the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. The Scottish Government has now committed to publish a new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy within 12 months of UN Biodiversity Conference (COP26) which is being held in November. Dumfries and Galloway Council will do all it can to help with this and address climate issues from a local perspective and our biodiversity strategy will support our partners, including the Southern Uplands Partnership and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.”

  • NWCC Represents Region at 1.5 Max Summit before COP26

    Monday, 01 November 2021 12:01

    In May of this year NWCC was selected to represent the South of Scotland at the 1.5 Max Summit in advance of Cop 26.

    This was a huge opportunity for the staff and young people to become involved in some way with COP 26 activities. The summit allowed some of our young people to be represented at a high profile event and to have their views listened to regarding climate change. This has been an ambitious project from start to finish and has been a fantastic opportunity for our young people to make a significant difference in initiating a conversation on climate change and long term to embed climate change education into the curriculum at North West Community Campus.

    Some of our learners participated in the three day summit at the bridge in Dumfries. Other participants from other Scottish schools as well as schools in Nepal, Mozambique and Malawi. Their first task was to identify a problem statement of climate change that effects Dumfries and Galloway. Flooding was identified and this was also a problem identified by some of the partners we were working with. The group then found out more about progress made by different countries towards climate change as discussed at the Paris Cop in 2015.

    During the 3 days the group members also listened to keynote speakers including:

    Dr Maarten van Aalst – Director of Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

    Carmen Munhequete principal consultant at Resource Management based in Maputo, Mozambique

    The keynote speakers gave a first-hand account of how climate change has an effect on communities.

    There were also video stories to watch and discuss on how our behaviour is again impacting others around the world. The group members were shocked to see the impact of our behaviour regarding waste management and using single use plastic has on communities around the world. They saw first-hand what our global neighbours are experiencing; and this provided lots of food for thought about how we move forward as a school and a community.

    The main task of the summit was for our group members to come up with a product based on our problem statement of flooding to help protect the local environment and combat climate change. The group developed an action plan of changes that can be taken forward in NWCC to help educate members of our community about climate change and to encourage us to change our behaviour in school in order to protect the planet.

    It was a very busy, exciting and challenging 3 days and some of the pupils commented on why they joined the group and wanted to be involved in the summit and what they have taken from the summit:

    “I wanted to know more about climate change and I joined to help better school and the environment”

    “I joined to try to make a difference and have my voice heard”

    “I learned about how badly our actions can affect countries especially poorer developing countries”

    “I learned how much we can do to change the way we live”

    “I learned about how bigger countries are having a big effect on climate change and the poorer countries are experiencing the consequences of that”

    The schools involved with 1.5 Max are still meeting regularly and are motivated more than ever in giving Learning for Sustainability a high profile in school. The group has also been promoted to HRH the Prince of Wales and he is now aware of the existence and the activities of the group.

    NWCC is now moving forward with their 1.5 Max group and will be hoping to use their action plan from the summit to educate the school community on climate change and how we can change our behaviour and actions in order to protect the planet. This is an exciting and ambitious project that the group members are keen to take forward.

  • Statement from Dumfries and Galloway Council re: Cuthbertson Memorial Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge, Annan

    Friday, 29 October 2021 18:45

    Following the extreme weather over the past few days Officers from Dumfries and Galloway Council have held a briefing with Members of Ward 10 (Annandale South) to discuss the impact of the flooding from the River Annan.

    Particular focus was placed on the two bridges: the Cuthbertson Memorial Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge, which have washed away as a result of the significant volume of flood water overtopping the bridge decks.

    The Council Structures Management System, which holds a register of our bridges and their details, contains over 1,200 bridges and the importance of these both in recreational and economic terms is greatly acknowledged.

    Our Council’s work around this time continues to focus on the safety of people. Thorough inspections of all the bridges at flood locations across the region is being carried out by our engineers and will continue, as weather and safety precautions allows.

    The Council welcomes the enthusiasm of the Annan community and will work with them to assist in exploring all options to address their local issue to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

    We would like to thank all our communities for their help in managing and alerting us to incidents over the past couple of days.

  • Food and drinks firms invited to satisfy their hunger for success with new business accelerator

    Wednesday, 27 October 2021 09:04

    An exciting new accelerator programme aimed at helping food and drinks businesses across Dumfries and Galloway find the recipe to long-term success and sustainability, is due to get underway early next year.

    Interested businesses are invited to an online Information Session to find out more about the Food and Drink Accelerator Programme, which is a partnership initiative of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Dumfries & Galloway Council, delivered by Elevator. The project forms part of the key strategic objectives agreed by both councils under the North Channel Partnership.

    Established food and drinks operators, who have a hunger to grow professionally and personally, will be given the opportunity to gain the skills, capability and plans to scale their businesses rapidly and sustainably. Following an initial information session on Friday 29 October, businesses will then be invited to participate in a ‘bootcamp’ session planned for 23 November. This session is where participants will undertake tasks to assess their commitment, suitability and desire to learn.

    A final selection of just six businesses per council area will go through to the main programme commencing 11 January to 31 March 2021.

    The 10-week programme features three phases - Discover: Develop: Deliver. Each week, core sessions will introduce participants to key elements to support the growth of their business. Topics will include value proposition, scaling, marketing, business planning, circular economy and next steps, along with tailored sessions for food and drink companies. Industry experts and experienced mentors will challenge successful candidates on their goals, plans and business ideas, fine-tuning them until they are investor-ready.

    Interested businesses are invited to a special Information Session on Friday 29 October from 1pm to 2.30pm, where they will have the chance to hear about what’s on offer during the Food and Drink Accelerator Programme.

    Depute Leader Rob Davidson said “This programme will have mutual benefits to both councils, and highlights the significance of the work of the North Channel Partnership. The programme will also further enhance and complement the suite of supports that are delivered by our Economic Development Department and Business Gateway.”

    Archie Dryburgh Vice Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee commented “We have such a rich network of talent and creativity when it comes to agri-food in our borough, and through collaboration with our partners in Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, we will be able to support those businesses on their journey to long-term success and sustainability.”

    To register for the Food and Drink Accelerator Programme information session, please visit