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Feb 212017
 
 February 21, 2017

A DRAMATIC fall in income from Nith Fishings is being blamed on the SNP Scottish Government’s catch and release policy

Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell says the Scottish Government need to take urgent action to support fishing in the area following a dramatic fall in income on the Nith.

Between 2015 and 2016, income on the Dumfries river fell by 45% and Mr Mundell believes that the effects of the Scottish Government’s changes to catch and release are having a hugely detrimental effect on fishing in the region and that local rivers are not getting the support and promotion they need.

Mr Mundell has previously raised the issue with Roseanna Cunningham the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform during a question session at Holyrood to no avail.
Mr  Mundell said: “It is clear that more and more people are being put off fishing in Dumfriesshire due to the SNP’s strict policies on catch and release that have come into effect over the last year. The way the policy currently works it has wrongly suggested there are no fish to catch which those on the river say is not the case.
“I have been contacted regularly by many concerned constituents that the longer term future of fishing is in serious danger of being lost if more support is not given. There are also many in the tourism and hospitality sector who have notice a drop in visitors.
“A fall in income of 45% is completely unsustainable and the Scottish Government must recognise the serious issues that we are on the Nith are facing rather than sweeping these concerns under the carpet.
“With season tickets also falling from 52 to 28 over the last year, it is clear that there is a problem.
“The Scottish Government need to outline what plans they have for the future to safeguard fishing on the Nith and I will be continuing to press Ministers on this issue.”
Feb 212017
 
 February 21, 2017

 

 

SNP Councillor Jim McClung has challenged Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson to “stop being economical with the truth” following claims the Labour administration’s flagship anti-poverty strategy is seriously underspent.

Councillor McClung first raised the issue at the Council’s Policy & Resources Committee and today he said: “The Council Leader has been listing in the press what his administration is doing to tackle poverty, such as making progress on the Living Wage, when the Living Wage has been paid to Council staff since October 2011, long before Councillor Nicholson and his party were even in Administration!

 “He also trumpets the paying out of Crisis Loans, Crisis Grants, investing in new housing and providing free school meals as part of this Council tackling poverty, however, as Councillor Nicholson knows full well, the Council only handle the granting of the funds for all of the above measures, the money to actually finance them is supplied to the Council by the Scottish Government, so to claim credit for these measures is being economical with the truth.
“Councillor Nicholson also claims that the dedicated anti-poverty fund has only just ben set up. Again he is being economical with the truth. In 2014/15 this Council held £1 million in funds for Welfare reform/Anti-Poverty.  In 2015/16 had £1.5 million in funds for Welfare Reform/Anti-Poverty and in this current financial year the Council has £1 million in funds for Tackling the Cause and Effects of Poverty. A new title for the same objective.
“In these same three years this administration, led by Councillor Nicholson, has spent less than £500,000 of those £3.5 million funds available for tackling poverty.”
He went on: “Should he dispute these figures then I suggest he reads the Council papers for Policy and Resources Committee entitled Budget Out-turn 2014/15 and 2015/16, the Budget Resource update 2016/17 and the Full Council papers on 17/12/15 and 15/12/16, not forgetting the Labour Budget passed at full Council on 05/02/15, which promised a further £1 million in anti-poverty funding for 2017/18.
“If Councillor Nicholson and his party live up to their promises of another £1 million in anti-poverty funding for next financial year there will be £4 million of unspent funding available. His Administration should stop being economical with the truth and start actually spending this funding on assisting those that are in need, such as the 46% of households that are living in Fuel Poverty and the 1 in 4 children that are living in poverty in the region instead of the two ‘talking shops’ they have planned.
“Spend the £4 million you have on those in the region that are in need and stop just talking about what you are going to do. Action speaks louder than words.”
Feb 212017
 
 February 21, 2017

Drivers are being warned not to use their mobile phones at the wheel ahead of a new law coming into force which will double the penalties for the offence.

Drivers who are stopped while using a mobile phone are currently issued with three penalty points and a £100 fine.

Under the new legislation, which comes into force on 1 March drivers can expect £200 fine and 6 penalty points

Police have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the new law.

They urged motorists not to risk using an internet device or a mobile phone while driving.

Ch Supt Andy Edmonston, head of road policing for Police Scotland, said drivers who were distracted by their mobiles were more likely to cause serious road accidents.

He said: “The risks associated with using a phone while behind the wheel have always been very clear.

“Any driver will be distracted by a phone call or text message as it affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the road ahead, putting the driver and other road users at risk.

“Distraction reduces hazard perception and increases reaction times in a similar way to drink-driving, making drivers much more likely to cause deaths and injuries.

“Drivers who think they can multi-task are fooling themselves: research shows 98% are unable to divide their time without it affecting performance.”

He added: “Talking on a phone hand-held or hands free, texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking are all proven to increase crash risk.

“The law says a driver must at all times be in proper control of their vehicle. If at any time they are not they may be guilty of an offence. Police Scotland consistently targets these offences on a daily basis to reduce road casualties and will deal with offences detected in an appropriate manner.

“We are using this change in the law to, once again, remind drivers that using a mobile phone while driving has always been unacceptable and even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a serious or fatal collision.”

Feb 212017
 
 February 21, 2017

A bid by fans for a seat on the board of Queen of the South has been rejected at the club’s annual general meeting.

Supporters group the Queens Trust secured the backing of Dumfries and Galloway Council in order to get the issue discussed.

About 100 shareholders attended the meeting and the outcome was about two to one against the move.

Director Mark Blount said it was important the issue had been discussed and brought “out into the open”.

“There are no winners this evening, we put forward our case that we work in a streamlined way and due to confidentiality we felt that it wasn’t right to have a supporters representative on the board,” he said.

“As the chairman outlined in his speech, we are half way through a vision that we have to make the club sustainable and we want to see that through.

“But we won’t be around forever and, who knows, the next board may see things differently.

“We always have and always will operate an open-door policy. We are approachable, if anyone has any gripes then come and speak to us.”

Queens Trust spokesman John Johnstone said they were pleased to have put the issue on the agenda even if they were a “bit disappointed” by the outcome.

“We are very happy that it got discussed at the AGM and we were able to have a vote on it,” he said.

“I thought it would have been closer on the show of hands but it was still a good support – we weren’t embarrassed in any way, there was a good level of support for what the trust are trying to do.

“Maybe one day we will see what we want at Palmerston but we will keep supporting the team and carry on supporting them every way we can.”

Feb 142017
 
 February 14, 2017

AN MSP has written to the Council and Swstrans to request the removal of planters which recently appeared on Queen Street.

Joan McAlpine also raised concerns about the lack of community engagement on the issue.

The MSP was approached by constituents who are very unhappy with the large planters that have been installed.

The SNP member has been very supportive of the efforts to improve the amenity of the area, however, expressed concern that the community had not been consulted in this instance.

In a letter to the Council and Sustrans, who are responsible for regenerating the area, the MSP said:

“I am aware a great deal of work has been undertaken to regenerate the Queen Street area – most of which has been positively received by the local community.

“However, having been to see the planters myself, I am inclined to agree that larger planters are unnecessarily large and the colour combination is garish and upsets the ambience of the area.

“It is clear that a significant number of my constituents perceive that their views have not been taken on board during the consultation process – it seems to me that for some reason any exercise in community engagement has fallen short of what is required.

“More specifically, I would request you take efforts to remove the red planters in line with my constituent’s request.”

Feb 142017
 
 February 14, 2017

£3 million is being made available to train an extra 371 teachers in Scotland next year.

This increase in places at Scotland’s teacher education universities will bring the total intake in 2017/18 to 3,861, a rise for the sixth consecutive year.

It comes less than a week after the launch of the Scottish Government’s new teacher recruitment campaign which focuses on attracting teachers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the announcement at the Aberdeen Learning Festival. He said: “To give all our young people the best opportunity of success, we need to have the right number of skilled teachers in our schools.

“That is why we worked with local authorities to increase teacher numbers this year, with an additional 253 teachers in Scottish classrooms, and are upping student places for the sixth consecutive year.

“We know our student teacher targets are stretching which is why we are supporting universities to meet them through our new teacher recruitment campaign and £1 million from the Scottish Attainment Fund to develop new routes into the profession.

“I recognise that some councils have faced challenges with teacher recruitment. Today’s announcement is a further demonstration of the action this Government is taking to help them attract more people into teaching and widen the pool of available talent.”

Mr Swinney also urged former oil and gas workers to consider a career in teaching. He continued: “Our focus on STEM subjects means applications from people with skills and experience in the oil and gas industry will be welcomed. We have already supported 12 oil and gas workers retrain for a new career in teaching through our Transition Training Fund (TTF) and we are considering how this support might continue in future.”

The annual teacher workforce planning exercise leads to setting student teacher intake targets, based on projected pupil rolls. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including the teacher education universities, local authorities, teacher unions and the Scottish Funding Council.

The University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Stirling, University of Strathclyde, University of the West of Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands are the eight providers of teacher training places.

Feb 142017
 
 February 14, 2017

 

The impact in Dumfries and Galloway of the Scottish Government’s recent decision to increase Council Tax by adjusting the level of Council Tax for “high band” properties has been revealed.

The Scottish Government recently introduced legislation to change the Council Tax which will mean properties in Bands E to H will pay higher Council Tax from 1 April.

There is no local discretion to change these multipliers so councillors have no say on the proposals. The change will raise £2.4m in Dumfries and Galloway which can be offset against the Council’s £16m funding gap as a result of recent Government cuts in funding.

Increases of 1.6% in domestic Water and Wastewater charges for 2017/18 have already been set by the Scottish Government, which again local councils have no say over and the income goes to Scottish Water not the council, even although they are shown on Council Tax bills.

In addition the Scottish Government has provided councils with local discretion to apply up to a maximum 3% increase on the Council Tax base, following a freeze in Council Tax which has been in place since April 2008.

A decision on the percentage increase will be made when Dumfries and Galloway Council approves the 2017/18 budget on 28 February 2017.  The Dumfries and Galloway region has had the lowest Council Tax rate in mainland Scotland since 2008, with Council Tax 10% lower than the Scottish average.

Commenting on the change in law, the leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said: “The change in law made by the Scottish Government will mean a rise in Council Tax for people living in Band E to H houses.

“Although it is a Council Tax rise the Council actually has no say on it as it is being brought in by the Government. What I think will annoy some people is the fact that despite this rise, there will still have to be cuts made to balance the books because of a massive reduction in Government funding.

“This change will raise £2.4m for the council but the funding gap we need to fill due to cuts is £16million.  It is ironic that the Scottish Government won’t use their own new tax raising powers in the Scottish Parliament to increase income tax but they impose a tax rise through Councils, presumably because they want the Council rather the Government to be blamed.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Nicholson has also warned that a business rates review by the Scottish Government could see business rates rise for some local companies in the area, in particular those involved in tourism.

A rates revaluation instigated by the Scottish Government is currently being undertaken which will re-asses how much organisations will pay in non-domestic rates to take effect from 1 April 2017.

The revaluation is carried out by independent assessors. The Scottish Assessors Association has published provisional values, with the finalised figures to be sent out in March before they take effect in the new financial year. The last revaluation in Scotland was carried out in 2010, so as property rents have increased since then in many areas, it is likely it will lead to an increase in rates.

Councillor Nicholson added: “The Government normally carry out a revaluation on a regular basis but the current Government delayed the present review and it’s now seven years since the last one was conducted. That means if the rent value on a property has increased since 2010 then the rates are likely to increase.

“In some cases, such as town centre properties, it may be their value has actually fallen so you could see a cut in rates which would be good news for those businesses. However, we have seen in other parts of Scotland some businesses, in particular hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts, face steep increases and that is a worry.

“Again the rules are set by the Government and the revaluation is carried out by independent assessors so the council don’t have any say on the rateable values set but we will be watching the outcome carefully and if we can assist either through lobbying the Government or looking at our local rates relief scheme we will definitely do that.”

The table below outlines the revised charges in Dumfries and Galloway based on the aforementioned ‘multiplier’ and Scottish Water increases.  As the decision has not yet been made it does not include any percentage increase agreed by Dumfries and Galloway Council when they set their budget on 28 February.

Based on the current Band D Charge in Dumfries & Galloway of £1,049 the reformed charges for Council Tax in Dumfries and Galloway are as follows:

 

Band A

£

Band B

£

Band C

£

Band D

£

Band E

£

Band F

£

Band G

£

Band H

£

Current 2016/17 Council Tax charge 699.33 815.89 932.44 1,049.00 1,282.11 1,515.22 1,748.33 2,098.00
Following Scottish Government multiplier change in 2017/18 699.33 815.89 932.44 1,049.00 1,378.27 1,704.63 2,054.29 2,570.05
*Multiplier increase 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 96.16 189.40 305.96 472.05
2017 Confirmed Domestic Water Charges from Scottish Water  (included in your bill)
Water 132.84 154.98 177.12 199.26 243.54 287.82 332.10 398.52
Wastewater 154.20 179.90 205.60 231.30 282.70 334.10 385.50 462.60
Combined 287.04 334.88 382.72 430.56 526.24 621.92 717.60 861.12
Total Scottish Water Increase for 2017/18 4.44 5.18 5.92 6.66 8.18 9.62 11.10 13.32

 

Feb 142017
 
 February 14, 2017

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GALLOWAY and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has joined a rally outside the Scottish Parliament today to encourage fathers to talk more about their love for their children.

The rally, organised by campaign group Fathers4Justice, aimed to break the wall of silence surrounding the suicides of separated fathers in Scotland, after the group found themselves increasingly dealing with suicide reports.

The rally comes after a survey found almost a quarter of people believe mothers love their children more than fathers. A survey of more than 1,000 people found that 23% believe mothers love their children more than fathers do.

Fathers from across Scotland gathered to sign a large Valentine’s Card to all children in Scotland as a reminder of the important role a father can play in a child’s life.

Fathers for Justice founder Matt O’Conner said: “Nine men die every week from suicide in Scotland and 71% of all suicides are men.

“Not only is suicide the biggest killer of men under 45 across the UK, but dads are three times more likely to die after separation than mothers.

“While it is encouraging that 77% of Scots believe that parents love their children equally, we want that number to be 100%. Men must become more comfortable talking about their feelings about their children and push to play an active part in their lives following a break-up”

Commenting at the event, Finlay said: “This event is all about fathers showing their love for their children. Many men feel uncomfortable expressing their emotions which causes us to be in this peculiar situation where some people believe that mothers love their children more than fathers. This is just not the case.

“We need to change the culture around how parents are treated after separation. I am in support of equal parenting, where both mothers and fathers are given equal rights by the courts.

“I hope that this campaign will encourage father’s to be more open about their feelings for their children, and help to highlight the vital role many fathers play in their children’s lives.”

Feb 142017
 
 February 14, 2017

 

 

**MISSING 4 YEAR OLD CHILD**

Police  are currently searching for a missing 4 year old boy in Birchwood area of Dumfries.

Child described as 3ft tall, slim build, short brow hair wearing a spider man jacket.

Feb 082017
 
 February 8, 2017

Scotland’s second largest music festival of 2017 will be returning to the Raehill Meadows of Dumfries and Galloway on June 8th -11th, hosting twelve different stages with 300 performers, this festival caters for all. Eden hosts an eclectic mix of sounds and environments; whether you want to relax in the hammocks and dip your toe in the water, hang out in auld Celtic drinking dens, take part in dance or art sessions, and dance till the sun comes up whilst meeting amazing like minded individuals, then Eden Festival is for you.

World renowned disco act Boney M will be coming to Eden Festival this summer, performing their chart topping hits like Ma Baker, Rasputin and Oh My Lord. They were one of the most successful bands of the late 1970s, and one of their biggest crowd pleasers Daddy Cool is still the 7th biggest- selling single of all time in Britain.

QUOTE: Co- Director Meredith Langley Vine “We are really excited to have Boney M as the Sunday headliner, they are sure to add a bit of fun, sparkle and disco to festivals finale”

Also in the mix is Jungle, after big hits ‘Busy Earning’ and ‘Time’ plus a Mercury prize nomination they have become a truly iconic band. And after sell out DJ tours around the UK Jungle will be joining Eden festival to play a DJ set, expect great old school music, Nu-funk and tribal pop sounds.

For the garage and grime lovers, So Solid Crew will be making an appearance. They had huge success in the early 2000’s with chart topping tracks like ‘21 Seconds’ and ‘Ride wid us’.

Other confirmed acts performing at Eden Festival 2017
GOGOL BORDELLO / ALABAMA 3 / ALICE RUSSELL / DUB PHIZIX & STRATEGY / MALA
/ HORSEMEAT DISCO / BORN ON ROAD (Ft Benny Page, Kelvin 373, Aries, Selecta Jman) / GAVIN MARWICKS JOURNEY PROJECT / TALISK / EVA LAZARUS SOUNDSYSTEM / ASBO DISCO

Eden Festival’s playlist includes; hip hop, dance, RnB, acoustic, soul, funk, dubstep, disco, dancehall, electronica, ska, pop, African dance, jungle, balkan beat,  drum & bass and Celtic music, playing together side by side. More acts will be announced shortly!

Tier two tickets have now sold out. Tier 3 tickets cost £109 for an adult, £85 for a teenager and under 12’s get in free! (Must be accompanied by an adult) For more information visit their website www.edenfestival.co.uk

For all the latest updates visit:
Twitter @TheEdenFestival
www.facebook.com/theedenfestival
www.theedenfestival.co.uk