The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Monday, 21 July 2014

Stage is set for a bandstand bonanza!

Last summer, thousands of local residents and visitors to Ayr were able to enjoy much more than just sun, sea and sand as a series of hugely popular and impromptu live music ‘pop-up’ concerts kept people entertained on the shorefront.

The concerts were piloted by the Safe Ayr Shore Initiative and the public feedback was so positive it led to calls from some to revamp the old concrete bandstand on the seafront to make the concerts a more permanent attraction – and that’s exactly what has happened for this summer!

[Pictured with Councillors Rita Miller (centre), Bill Grant (right) and Allan Dorans (left) are artists Nicole Sharp, Tyler McCluskie, Alexandra Thomson, Lauren Smith, Chelsea MacPherson and Community Safety Officer Paul Scully.]

The project was supported by partners including South Ayrshire Arts Partnership, Community Safety Partnership, and Community Payback team.    

A number of young people from the Council’s Skills Towards Employment Project (STEP) worked up designs, building on the superb mural artworks that had been undertaken at Rozelle House in Ayr

Once the surface had been prepared thanks to the hard work from the Community Payback Scheme, the young artists spent three days working with artist Merlin Currie to complete the mural.  

[Pictured: Artists Nicole Sharp, Tyler McCluskie, Alexandra Thomson, Lauren Smith and Chelsea MacPherson.]

The results are stunning and commenting on the new look bandstand, Councillor Rita Miller, Chair of the Community Safety Partnership said: “What a transformation! The designs are fresh and the art amazing – the young people have done a brilliant job in turning the old bandstand into a bright, cheery and attractive focal point at the shore and I’m delighted with it – well done!”

Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure added: “The bandstand looks great and the superb design and artwork really bring it to life.

“The pop-up concerts were popular last year and it’s fantastic that we now have a permanent, vibrant venue for vocalists and musicians to really strut their stuff!

“Full marks to the young people from STEP – who can take centre stage and blow their own trumpet for this magical musical make-over!”

Like the pop-up concerts last year, the refreshed bandstand will also host concerts at short notice, offering a condensed festival experience and bringing more live musical entertainment to Ayr's shorefront.

A bank of registered performers are in place and, when the weather and numbers on the beach are right, a call is made to them – the first six to respond end up on the bill with a slot of 30 minutes and the full concert line-up can be up and running in as little as an hour! 

Last year, performers included: Little Fire, Scott Nicol, Marsail Hood, The Busking Sharks, Alan Frew, Aileen Campbell, Nic Morgan, Gemma Kate, Experience and Kate Cassidy and with the ‘first come, first on stage’ concept, it’s proved extremely popular with the performers too!

For the latest news and an up to date note on who’s performing, follow the Council on Twitter @southayrshire or keep an eye out next time you're visiting the beach!

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 18 July 2014

South Ayrshire Council welcomes Ayr Renaissance report and progress

South Ayrshire Council has agreed a new three-year business plan submitted by Ayr Renaissance LLP – the partnership that delivers regeneration services to the Council.

[Pictured: James Knox, Chair of Ayr Renaissance.]

Under the terms of the agreement, Ayr Renaissance produces a rolling plan every year, detailing how it will drive town centre regeneration for three years.

Ayr Renaissance has overseen the refurbishment of the iconic ‘pink buildings’ which form the northern gateway to Ayr.

Acquired a number of key buildings central to the redevelopment of the Sandgate end of town

Appointed the Princes Foundation for Built Community to advise and consult on the redevelopment of the area.

Launched the MiAyr app, with sponsorship from Ayr Central, the Gaiety Theatre, Stagecoach and Safe Ayr – with some 2,700 people registering to download the app and 650 registered businesses

Launched a small grants scheme for all properties in the Ayr Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) area 

Run a series of town centre summits  in partnership with the Council offering residents and businesses a platform to voice their opinions and ideas on the future development of Ayr.

And undertaken a range of other initiatives such as installing electronic footfall counters, running a lecture series on architecture and heritage conservation, appointing  town centre officer responsible for managing the town centre through the development of a town centre zoning system to increase retailer involvement in town centre management.

The Council has now agreed the latest business plan which will focus on the regeneration and development work in the Ayr North/Riverside area – with a number of options being developed to transform this part of the town through a comprehensive masterplan for the area.

In addition, the ideas and suggestions generated by the town centre summits in 2013 will be progressed, with a refreshed framework to deliver significant improvements in the town over the next five years.

James Knox, Chair of Ayr Renaissance, said “I am delighted that South Ayrshire Council have backed our plans and share our vision for the town. Their generous support is very welcome and we will ensure that the resources put at our disposal are invested to the maximum benefit of the town. On behalf of the Board of Ayr Renaissance, I would like to thank both the administration and the opposition for their support.”

Welcoming the achievements and refreshed business plan, Councillor Bill Grant (pictured above), Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “Ayr Renaissance has done a fantastic job in helping transform the pink buildings and drive regeneration in the town in the last three years.

“Development of the MiAyr app is a superb way to take advantage of modern technology to promote and connect local businesses with customers.

“The town centre summits have been invaluable in helping develop ideas and opinions on what we need to address next to support and maximise retail and business opportunities for the area.

“We can now build on these successes and look forward to a new phase in the development of the Riverside area thanks to an exciting and far reaching masterplan for the town, which will benefit all residents, businesses and retailers in and around Ayr.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Private sector continues to provide forward momentum in Scottish construction market

RICS UK Construction Market Survey, Q2 2014

Private housing, commercial and industrial sectors are driving growth within the construction industry across Scotland, according to RICS Q2 2014 Construction Market Survey.

[Pictured: Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland.]

A net balance of 29% of chartered surveyors stated an increase in private house building as the property market in Scotland continues to recover. With a net balance of 26% of respondents reporting an increase in construction workloads during the last three months, positive signs were also reported in the private commercial sector (a net balance of 26%).

Additionally, investment in infrastructure within Scotland continues to have a positive impact, with a net balance of 37% reporting a growth in infrastructure construction in the second half of 2014.

However, a reported shortage of construction professionals in Scotland (a net balance of 37%) is likely to present a challenge to further strong growth in the sector.

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “The UK construction market is mirroring the natural consequence of a rise in demand after five subdued years. The upsurge in housing demand is creating pressure across an industry which failed to invest in attracting new talent or in the training of existing employees at the height of the economic downturn and this in turn is creating similar effects among material supply.

“The good news is that there is reason for optimism, with workloads, profits and employment all forecast to deliver growth over the next 12 months and it is now the responsibility of industry to invest in training and technology to ensure it capitalises on these opportunities.”

Employment prospects for the sector remain firm as the industry gets to grips with meeting rapidly rising demands from a historically low base. Across Scotland a net balance of 52% of respondents expect employment to rise over the next 12 months. Teamed with 58% of chartered surveyors predicting an increase in workloads during the next year, the recovery of the construction sector looks set to continue.

Schools of the future nearing current reality

Two superb new school developments are a step closer to reality after South Ayrshire Council agreed plans for the development of a new Ayr Academy and a comprehensive refurbishment of Marr College in Troon.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Councillor Margaret Toner commented: "The new developments at Ayr Academy and Marr College mark a truly exciting moment for both schools."]

The proposal to build a state-of the art Ayr Academy learning campus next door to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) was agreed earlier this year and negotiations with UWS for the site to be finalised are well advanced.

Central to the new arrangement will be the opportunity to develop close educational links with UWS and Ayrshire College, particularly for senior Ayr Academy pupils, offering them exceptional opportunities to benefit from a wider range of subjects and experiences through the Curriculum for Excellence.

In addition, the new campus will involve the wider community with a range of sporting and social facilities being made available for public use.

The Council will now enter into a long-term contract to agree terms for the maintenance and management of the new school.

Proposed designs for the renovation and modernisation of Marr College will also see the 1975 extension demolished and the removal of all remote classrooms. Refurbishments will also be carried out on the entrance and boundary security.

Agreements on how to deliver the modernisation programme and manage the school are well advanced and works are likely to begin in May 2015, to finish in March 2018, subject to funding conditions required by the Scottish Government being met.

Addressing the lack of sports facilities, the Council has also agreed the development of all-weather pitches for football/rugby, with an additional £300,000 being secured from the Sport Scotland for the provision of a further pitch.

Deciding where the pitches should be located was agreed after significant public consultation, particularly with the community and local community sports hub and a planning application has now been submitted, with work to begin in late 2014.

Councillor Margaret Toner, Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said: “The new developments at Ayr Academy and Marr College mark a truly exciting moment for both schools.

“Once we have finalised the management and contractual details for both developments, work can begin to deliver two stunning and dynamic learning environments, offering first class facilities and outstanding opportunities for our pupils to succeed now and well into the future.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Scotland’s economy grows to record level

Pre-recession peak surpassed with record levels of employment

By: Murdoch MacDonald
Economics Correspondent

National Statistics published today by the Scottish Government and covering the first quarter of 2014 show that Scotland’s economy has now grown past its pre-recession peak to a new record level.

[Pictured: Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney (centre) during a visit today to Edinburgh-based website design and bespoke cloud software development company Lyles-Sutherland. On the left, Fraser Sutherland, Managing Director of Lyles-Sutherland, and on the right, Robin Lyles, Technical Director.]

Scotland’s GDP grew 1.0 per cent over the quarter, faster than the UK as a whole. Output in Scotland is now 0.4 per cent above its pre-recession level. The UK figure for quarter one was still 0.6 per cent below pre-recession levels.

Alongside these GDP figures, ONS labour market data published today and covering the period March-May 2014 show that employment in Scotland increased by 76,000 over the year to reach a record 2,587,000. 

Employment in Scotland has now increased over the quarter for 17 consecutive monthly releases, the longest ever unbroken run of increasing quarterly employment. Scotland’s employment rate (73.3 per cent) remains higher than for the UK as a whole (73.1 per cent).

The female employment level also reached a record high of 1,249,000. Scotland has a higher female employment rate (69.7 per cent vs 68.1 per cent) than the UK as a whole.

The size of the (16+) labour force increased by 25,000 over the quarter, indicating an increasing number of people entering the jobs market to look for work. Whilst the employment level increased by 12,000, this also explains in part the increase in unemployment over the quarter of 13,000. 

Overall, the unemployment rate has fallen by 0.6 percentage points over the year and by 1.0 percentage points over the last 2 years. In addition the claimant count figures for June 2014 fell by 4,000 to under 100,000 for the first time since 2008, indicating continued improvement in labour markets.

Across the EU, the average economic activity rate (15-64) was 72.1 per cent in Jan-Mar 2014. Today’s ONS data for Scotland show that the economic activity rate (16-64) in Scotland is now 78.8 per cent.

[To view video, click on image above.]

Responding to the latest labour market and GDP figures Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Today’s figures mark an important stage in our recovery. 

“These positive output figures show that Scotland’s economy continues to go from strength to strength with growth of 1.0 per cent over the quarter and 2.6 per cent over the year – the fastest annual growth in over three years. 

“Nearly six years on from the start of the financial crisis, our economy is now larger than before the downturn. Output in Scotland is at record levels and we have exceeded our pre-recession peak at least one quarter ahead of the UK. 

“Over the last quarter the improvement in our economy has been broad-based with welcome signs of growth in manufacturing which was up 3.4 per cent and services which account for over 70 per cent of our economy up 0.9 per cent. 

“Today’s output figures are supported by new labour market data which show employment has reached a new record in Scotland with our economic activity rate also hitting a record high. 

“As the economy recovers more people are moving from inactivity into the labour market to look for employment. With this boost to economic activity it is not surprising that both employment and unemployment have risen over the quarter – albeit unemployment is still down over the year. 

“These figures support the emerging body of evidence which all point to the recovery in Scotland continuing to gather momentum. 

“Monday’s Bank of Scotland’s PMI survey indicated that private sector activity in Scotland expanded for the 21st consecutive month in June whilst the Fraser of Allander, ITEM Club and PWC have all revised up their forecasts for growth this year. 

“There can be no doubt that Scotland has the economic potential to be an independent country. With the full powers of independence we could do more to get people into work, ensure everyone in Scotland is able to benefit from our national wealth and give employers access to the skills they need to grow their business strengthening our economy and creating jobs.”

Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women's Employment Angela Constance said: “While today’s figures show growth in Scotland’s economy, our ambition is to do better than to simply return to pre-recession levels of economic performance.

“It is encouraging that female employment continues to increase markedly with a higher employment rate than the rest of the UK.

"Although we continue to do better than the UK in terms of employment rates amongst young people and 90 per cent of school leavers are in positive destinations, our youth unemployment rate remains too high. 

“This is why we support the principle outlined in the report last month by the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, that links between schools, colleges and employers can be strengthened, to be more aligned to student and business needs.”

Posted on behalf of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Visit of note as South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie welcomes American school choir

Provost Helen Moonie recently welcomed to South Ayrshire a community children’s choir for talented and gifted singers aged 10-14 from Newnan, Georgia USA.

[Pictured: Provost Moonie welcomes delegates from the Centre Masterworks Chorale, with Leader of the Council Councillor Bill McIntosh and South Ayrshire Council’s Chief Executive, Eileen Howat.]

The Centre Masterworks Youth Chorale was in Ayrshire as guests of the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, to play a number of concerts and develop cultural and musical links between Georgia and the local area.

The chorale party was headed by Mayor Keith Brady and his wife Katie, who exchanged gifts with Provost Moonie. Also in the American delegation were Newnan council members Rhodes Schell, mayor Pro-Tem Cynthia Jenkins and members of the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission, led by Bette Hickman.

Provost Moonie said: “I had heard so much about the brilliant vocal talent of The Centre Masterworks Youth Chorale and had waited with much anticipation to meet and hear them sing.

[Pictured: Provost Moonie receives a painting, showing a scene from Newnan, Georgia, USA, from Mayor Keith Brady.]

“An undertaking such as this is no mean feat and I want to thank Mayor Brady and Wallace Galbraith of the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra – and the teams behind them – for working so hard to make this visit happen and for bringing these talented young people to South Ayrshire.

“It took real determination, organising and planning to put the tour together and I’d like to congratulate everyone in playing their part in setting the itinerary for this visit and I hope it marks the start of a regular musical and cultural exchange between us all.”


South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Fashion Show boost for QTS Ladies Night at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

THE most glamorous night of the year at Ayr Racecourse - QTS Ladies Night on Saturday 9 August 2014 - is raising the stakes this year with a first for the evening - a glitzy Fashion Show.

Models will take to the Cat Walk in the Paddock Lawn Marquee at 5.00pm, and former Miss Scotland Jennifer Reoch, now co-host of the Riverside Show on STV, will be the star compere, joined for the night by a Gary Lamont, who plays the role of hairdresser Robbie Fraser in River City. 

Clothes are by Wish and this ground-breaking event is being co-ordinated by Janis Sue Smith, Fashion Editor of the Scottish Sun. The Fashion Show will add to what already is a terrific night.

Ayr Racecourse Sales and Marketing Manager Lindsey Smith explained: “Our QTS Ladies Night is already a real social occasion full of glamour, and is one of the most anticipated nights of the year in the west of Scotland.

“This year we are adding even more by staging a Fashion Show that will take place before racing, and I am delighted we have secured Jennifer as a host.”

QTS Ladies Night also features the fabulous Boyband Legends playing all the hits from legendary boy bands including Take That, the Wanted  and Westlife after racing in the Ayrshire Suite, and another live band – to be confirmed – in the Horseshoe Bar.

Best dressed ladies will have the opportunity to win a coin and a place in William Hill Ladies Day Final on 19 September.

The star prize this year is a Vauxhall Adam Glam 1.4, courtesy of Kerr & Smith, runner-up prize is a fabulous holiday for two to Dubai from Stewart Travel, and third prize is cosmetic treatments from Coast Clinic. 

Tickets can be booked online at or by calling 01292 264179 and discounts are available up until seven days before the event.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Scottish Government gives green light to Corton development

The Scottish Government has given the green light for the next stages of the Corton development planning process. This will focus on progressing the detailed planning proposals approved by South Ayrshire Council in June 2014.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure.] 

The development, from applicant LXB RP (Ayr 1) Ltd, will provide an attractive and distinctive place for people to live, work and enjoy their leisure time as part of a sustainable new community.

It  will see the building of  750 new homes – 188 of which will be affordable housing – a business park with offices, business space and workshops; a Sainsbury's supermarket; a neighbourhood shopping centre; a new hotel; a petrol station; a primary school; community facilities and parkland; walking, cycling and safe vehicle routes; and a park and ride facility.

In addition to boosting the local economy by around £40 million, 2,700 construction jobs during the 10-year development of the site will be created, with around 1,000 new jobs for the local area once completed.

Welcoming the Scottish Government’s approval, Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “This is great news and we can now look ahead to delivering the Corton development in the right way within the south-east Ayr area and create a dynamic, inclusive and accessible community, maximising the potential it offers for the local economy and beyond.

“This corner of the town will be significantly enhanced by the development, with hundreds of new jobs and new homes welcoming new residents and families, a superb new school, landscaped green spaces and community facilities.

“These are exciting times for Ayr and South Ayrshire and I warmly welcome the progress being made.”

The planning application is available. CLICK HERE

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Sizzling racing action at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse stages the third of five July fixtures on Monday 14 July, with the seven-race Summer Sizzler Raceday due off at 2.30pm.

[Pictured: Silver Rime wins at Ayr Racecourse last Monday.]

The feature race, the Instabet App Only At BetVictor Handicap over seven furlongs is scheduled for 5.00pm, and should attract a big number of runners competing for the £8500 prize fund.

The opening race at 2.30pm is the Ebf Stallions Maiden, again over seven furlongs for two year-olds, and there will be some interesting types in this.

Meanwhile there was some top racing action at the track last Sunday and Monday, and Linda Perratt and Ruth Carr were the trainers in form with three winners each.

Linda's successes came with Jinky (9/1), ridden by Joe Fanning, winning Sunday’s  six furlong handicap and Silver Rime (6/1)  landing Monday’s seven furlong handicap for jockey Connor Beasley before Dark Crystal produced a 20/1 shock in the apprentice handicap with Megan Carberry doing the steering.

Ruth Carr’s successes came with were Chosen One (7/2) winner of the amateur riders handicap under Serena Brotherton on Sunday, and Mutafaakir (9/2) and Cono Zur (4/1 jt fav) both winning for jockey James Sullivan on Monday.

Sunday’s meeting was dominated by Scottish trained winners. Keith Dalgleish sent out Hanalei Bay (5/1), with Phil Makin riding, to win The FSB Card Payment Processing Handicap and landed the feature race, the mile handicap, with Sound Advice  (13/8 fav) with Jason Hart in the plate.

Jim Goldie saddled Testa Rossa (5/1) to win the one mile two furlong handicap with Graham Lee riding, and Borders-based Alistair Whillans was successful with Opt Out at 18/1 with PJ McDonald on board.

For more information on racing at Ayr go online at or call 01292 264179.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Safe Ayr Shore making waves again in 2014

The annual SafeAyr Shore safety campaign is now underway and lasts until late August and builds on some very positive results from 2013.

Led by the South Ayrshire Community Safety Partnership, the campaign aims to improve community safety and reduce antisocial behaviour in and around Ayr Esplanade over the summer period.

It builds on 2013 initiative which saw seaside and shorefront complaints, antisocial behaviour and disturbances falling by 78% from 2012 – and the aim is to better this in 2014.

In addition to the regular high visibility patrols and increased vigilance on the Esplanade, Police Scotland and the British Transport Police will maintain their zero tolerance approach to drinking alcohol in public and fixed penalty notices will be issued to those caught drinking alcohol in public.

Councillor Rita Miller, chair of the South Ayrshire Community Safety Partnership said: "Ayr Esplanade is a brilliant place for local people and visitors to spend their leisure time, have fun, and enjoy the beach with family and friends marvelling at our outstanding scenery.

“Every summer, we welcome thousands of people who come down to the area to enjoy some early summer sun and spend time on the beach. The vast majority have a great time!

“By working together and taking a zero-tolerance
approach to antisocial behaviour, we’re sending out a clear message that we won’t let the actions of a few inconsiderate people spoil the fun for all the others.”

This year will also see a mobile police unit situated in front of the bandstand and additional portable CCTV cameras have also been installed in the area. The Esplanade has again been divided into clearly defined zones, allowing for an efficient and rapid response to each zone, if required.

Police Scotland’s Local Area Commander, Chief Inspector Willie Ramsay added: "SafeAyr Shore is a successful partnership approach to ensure local residents, and visitors to Ayr, enjoy their visit to the beach and Esplanade. 

“Keeping people safe is our priority and we will continue to robustly target the small minority of individuals who commit crime, carry out acts of antisocial behaviour and spoil the experiences of other law abiding families. 

“The partnership approach towards the initiative is critical as the benefits are clear for all to see and with the continued support from all involved we will build on the successes achieved over recent years"

The Council’s Community Safety team will be delivering street sport activities on the Low Green on Friday afternoons as well as live music at the pop up band stand on occasional Saturdays throughout the summer.

Councillor Miller concluded: “The message is clear. We want people to come to Ayr to enjoy a fantastic time on the beach, in the shops and businesses in our town and be confident that no matter what the weather, you can do so in safety and in comfort.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Work starts at North Ayrshire’s new community hospital

Construction of the new Acute Mental Health and Community development will start at Ayrshire Central Hospital on Monday 14 July.

Balfour Beatty will begin building the new 206-ensuite bedroom mental health and community facility which is expected to open in spring 2016. Work will take place on the grounds of the former Pavilions 4-9, which were situated in the centre of the hospital site.

Both entrances to the hospital will remain open throughout the duration of the works, however occasional restrictions may be in place when deliveries are being received. A number of internal roads will be changed and this will affect access to Pavilions 1, 2 and 3. Signs will be in place to show the alternative routes that should be followed.

Temporary car parking spaces have been provided to make up for parking areas lost during the construction period. Patients, staff and visitors to the site are asked to comply with all permanent and temporary traffic restrictions for the duration of the works.

John Wright, Director for Corporate Services, said: “We are looking forward to getting started and providing the people of Ayrshire and Arran with the very best facility possible. During construction some short-term disruption is inevitable but we will work hard to keep this to a minimum and would appreciate everyone’s patience during this time.”