The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 14 December 2018

Christmas message from Douglas Campbell, Leader of South Ayrshire Council


2018 has been a year of major change for the Council with our priorities to deliver first class public services measured against a continued challenging economic backdrop. It was the year that we made significant changes to the way the Council runs, with our management review streamlining services, to help cut down on bureaucracy and free up our staff to enhance the way they work to deliver improvements to our communities.

Importantly, we now operate with a primary focus on our people and places and there are already clear signs of positive progress.

For the economy, work to secure the £300million Ayrshire Growth Deal with the UK and Scottish Governments is well underway and we’re hoping for a firm commitment will soon be made to unlock Ayrshire’s potential alongside partners at East and North Ayrshire Councils. Watch this space.

We’ve also been working with local companies to help them bid for public sector work, with A1 Ironmongery and Radbury Glazing two recent success stories. This feeds in to our commitment to help companies maximise their impact. We’ve also re-launched our Ambition programme to help up and coming businesses to achieve growth and expand, and worked with a number of businesses to locate to South Ayrshire through Invest South Ayrshire.

We’re also taking forward plans to transform Ayr Town Centre and have been asking you to ‘Ayr Your Views’ on proposals including high-quality and attractive public spaces, a new town centre leisure facility, new housing adjacent to the High Street, and dedicated event and community areas. Further consultations will follow in 2019, providing you with more detail on agreed projects, including designs, costs and timescales.

During the Year of Young People we supported hundreds of young people through employability programmes such as Work Out! and through our partnership with Prince's Trust and Developing Young Workforce, with a new Rugby Coaching Academy the latest project to launch at Kyle Academy. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme also remains very popular and combined with the work of our schools we are helping people from across the area to realise their potential.

We’re also committed to widening opportunities for people of all ages to engage in sport and physical activity to promote healthy lifestyles, through our Access to Leisure card which offers discounts of up to 50% on memberships and admission prices to our activity centres, pools, and golf courses. A pilot at Maybole Golf Course also let people try the sport for free as we look to attract a new generation to take up the sport as part of a much wider campaign.

Looking ahead, the coming year will doubtless bring fresh challenges and we know that balancing the books remains a real and pressing challenge, with more savings to be made. This year thousands of you got involved in a public consultation to highlight the areas you wanted to be treated as priority areas and we listened. Early next year we’ll be launching a new consultation and we need your help as we work to protect vital services while responding to the needs of our communities.

2018 has been a memorable year with lots to celebrate and I hope we can all enjoy the festive break. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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


Sunday, 9 December 2018

Ayr Racecourse one of 8 UK tracks selected as venues for new horse racing championship series next year

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR is one of eight leading racecourses in Scotland, Ireland and England handpicked to stage ‘The Series’ – a dynamic new addition to the flat racing calendar that will see branded teams compete in 48 races with more than £100k of prize money per race.


Championship Horse Racing (www.championshiphorseracing.com) has created The Series, which will debut at racecourses in three countries. The proposed courses are: Ayr, Epsom Downs, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Leopardstown, Newbury, Newmarket July Course and Sandown Park.

Fixtures are proposed to take place on eight consecutive Thursday evenings from 25 July to 12 September 2019. The fixtures that form The Series will be additional to the British Racing Fixture List and require the approval of the BHA.

Ayr is Scotland’s only Grade 1 track and is home to its most prestigious flat race meeting the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup festival. Ayr was crowned Sports Venue of the Year at the 2018 Scottish Hospitality awards and holds the accolade of being one of only six Large Racecourses to be awarded a Gold standard by the Racehorse Owners Association.

CHR chief executive Jeremy Wray said: “Agreeing the likely racecourse schedule is a key milestone for CHR. Over the next few months we’ll be announcing the teams and the media partners who will broadcast The Series across the world. 

“We’re delighted that The Series is due to take place at such a prestigious course as Ayr, and that Scotland is one the three countries we debut in. They are great locations and have superb facilities for summer evening racing that promises fans something they’ve never experienced before. Fans will be encouraged to engage with the teams and our aim is to help tell the stories about the tens of thousands of people involved in the sport.”

The Series will feature high profile teams and the biggest names in racing. Each team will comprise a racing manager, four jockeys and a squad of 30 horses. 

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.


Sunday, 25 November 2018

Update on works at former Station Hotel in Ayr

The works to complete the installation of the roof structure and appropriate protective measures around the dangerous building adjacent to Ayr train station were scheduled to get underway this weekend.


This will involve an extended period of overnight working, due to the need for trackside access outside of train services’ operating hours.

The overnight working got underway on Saturday 24 November and will continue until the conclusion of the works, which is expected to be around Friday 21 December – subject to suitable weather conditions.

Due to the use of a crane and additional lighting, as well as the works involved, there may be some overnight noise and disturbance from the construction site.

South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Douglas Campbell, said: “While our contractors will do everything they can to minimise any noise or disruption from the site, we do appreciate the impact this may have and we’re very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

“We know that having to work overnight is far from ideal, but hope people understand that it’s necessary to address the public safety concerns at this dangerous building – in line with our statutory responsibilities – while working with our rail transport partners to maintain the current rail service.

“We have written out to residents and businesses in the vicinity of the train station to advise them of these necessary works and to ask them, in advance for their patience and co-operation. I would hope that would be forthcoming.”

7Updates regarding the dangerous building adjacent to Ayr train station can be found at www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/station-building

Enquiries from local residents and businesses regarding the works and the impact on them can be directed to 0300 123 0900.

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


Sunday, 18 November 2018

Town centre regeneration - Ayr Your Views!

Local people are set to have their say on exciting Council proposals that will help transform Ayr town centre for many years to come.


The Council want the public to have their say on ideas which include high-quality and attractive public spaces, a new town centre leisure facility, new housing adjacent to the High Street, and dedicated event and community areas.

The Council is holding two consultation events in Ayr Town Hall on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 November between 2:00pm and 7:30pm.

The proposals on show will complement the consultation work which has taken place so far and people will be able to discuss their views with Council Officers and have their say.

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council, said: "We have some exciting ideas which will help boost the local economy and put Ayr and South Ayrshire on the map. Improving social, cultural and economic activities is key to this ambition.

“We need to know if we are moving in the right direction, which is why these ideas need to be discussed with the local community.

“If we all work together then we will have the right projects in place which will not only bring more people into Ayr town centre, but will give them a reason to stay and come back time and time again.”

As well as the consultation events, a short survey can be completed at south-ayrshire.gov.uk/ayr-your-views 

The deadline to complete the online survey is Friday 14 December at 5:00pm 

Information gathered from the consultation events and the online survey will be used to inform the decision-making process. The intention would be to hold further consultation events in the future providing more detail on agreed projects including designs, costs and timescales.

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


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Ayr voted one of six best racecourses by ROA for fourth year in a row

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse has been voted as one of the top six large racecourses in the country for racehorse owners for the fourth year in a row.


The accolade comes from the Racehorse Owners Association, the body that has represented racehorse owners for more than 70 years.

Joining Scotland’s premier track in the top six large racecourses to receive the ROA Gold Standard Award for 2018 are Ascot, Cheltenham, Chester, Haydock Park and York.

Ayr has now been awarded the Gold Standard every year since the inception of the new Award format in 2015.

ROA representatives visited every track in Britain at least once to assess all aspects of the raceday experience for owners. In addition, feedback was provided by hundreds of ROA members following their racecourse visits.

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown said: “On behalf of the team at Ayr Racecourse I am both proud and delighted we have retained the ROA Gold Standard and remain one of only six large racecourses to be awarded given the accolade.

“To be given the Gold Standard for the fourth successive year is particularly pleasing, and reflects all the hard work and dedication and attention to detail we pride ourselves on reflecting the importance in which we hold racehorse owners.

“We are continually monitoring our raceday experience so we can continue to deliver the best experience possible for owners.”

Racecourses are divided into two categories – large and small – with their classification decided by a range of factors, including the quality of racing and attendance figures. The six tracks in each category that were considered to provide owners with the best raceday experience will hold the Award for the next 12 months.

One racecourse from each section will be named as their respective category’s ‘Racecourse of the Year’ at the annual ROA Horseracing Awards to be held in London on Thursday 6 December.

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.


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors and Christie Financial Planning jointly sponsor annual Ayr Art Exhibition in aid of Save the Children

Leading Ayrshire legal firm Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors has teamed up with Glasgow-based Christie Financial Planning to become joint sponsors of the annual Ayr Art Exhibition 2018.

The 25th Ayrshire Art Exhibition in aid of Save The Children opened again this year on Sunday 15 October after a preview day for invited guests on Saturday 14 October. The exhibition is held in the Maclaurin Galleries in the grounds of beautiful Rozelle House on the road out of Ayr to Alloway and will continue until 11 November.


Some 250 artists are exhibiting one or two of their paintings, and the ensemble makes for one of Scotland’s most attractive art exhibitions, with works of art for sale at over such a wide range of prices that there is always something to suit anyone’s pocket.

For a second year there are also Cameo Cards for sale. These unframed postcard-sized paintings proved very popular last year, and the entire proceeds go to support aid to children in Scotland. Very many of the artists donate these works entirely for charity, and devote many hours to create an extraordinary range of images that sell at a flat price of £50 each and, unlike the framed paintings on the wall, buyers can take these cards away with them. There are small frames to fit at only £10 each.

The exhibition runs for four weeks, and will be constantly attended by friendly and helpful members of the local Save The Children Committee who look after visitors and process sales.

A spokesperson for Save the Children said: “The exhibition has continued to grow every year and we’re excited to be celebrating our 25th anniversary.

“It’s become a really popular event and people travel from all over the country to attend and buy original art at an affordable price.

“We’re extremely grateful to the artists who have been so generous by donating pieces from their collections over the years.

“We would also like to thank The Maclaurin Galleries for their continued support and assistance, without which the exhibition would not be the successful event it is today.”

The money raised from the exhibition goes towards helping vulnerable children around the world as well as in Scotland and across the UK.

Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors' Managing Partner, Norman Geddes commented: “We are delighted to take this opportunity to support such a worthy cause as Save the Children, and to be involved in such a memorable and enjoyable event.”

Christie Financial Planning Ltd’s Director Paul Christie commented: “I cannot think of a more worthwhile charity to support. Save the Children Ayr and District Branch have an outstanding record of raising funds and everyone in our team is thrilled to assist them with their fundraising efforts. I am confident that the 2018 exhibition will be an outstanding success.”

The Save the Children Ayr Art Exhibition
The Maclaurin Galleries, Rozelle Park, Monument Road, Ayr.
Dates: 15 October – 11 November 2018
Time: Mon – Sat 10:00am – 4:30pm Sun 12:00pm – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Warm welcome for soldiers back to Ayr

Around 400 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, also known as 2 SCOTS, took to the streets of Ayr for a parade to mark their homecoming.


Many of the solders are local, so people were out in force to welcome them home after a six-month tour of Iraq, South Sudan and Cyprus.

The pipes and drums were accompanied by loud applause and cheering from an appreciative public as the troops marched through the heart of Ayr led by Corporal Cruachan IV – the Regimental Mascot. The Shetland pony was unruffled by the crowds as he led the way to the town hall for a special ceremony.

It’s been a long but rewarding six months for 2 SCOTS as they took part in operations to provide peace and stability in some of the most dangerous parts of the  world.

In Iraq the soldiers were based in the Kurdistan region providing training to local security forces. Working just outside Baghdad, soldiers from the battalion also linked up with an Australian and Spanish-led coalition to help stabilise the region.

Overseas tours ensure the soldiers from 2 SCOTS gain valuable experience and, at the Town Hall, Lieutenant Toomey, Corporal Morrison, Fusilier Brady, Fusilier Gillespie and Fusilier McGuffie all received Operational Service Medals for their distinguished service in Iraq.

The soldiers also took the opportunity to add hundreds of crochet and knitted poppies to a remembrance banner in the town hall. The poppies have been made by members of the public to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and the banner will feature at Remembrance Day events. 

Major General Euan Loudon CBE also accepted a cheque for £34,000 on behalf of former soldier Corporal Ronnie ‘Annie’ Oakley who unfortunately passed away recently. It was Annie’s wish that the money be left to the Royal Highland Fusilier (RHF) Museum in Glasgow.

Helen Moonie, South Ayrshire Provost said: “I would like to thank the people of South Ayrshire for welcoming the soldiers’ home. I know how much it means to those that took part in the parade to see and hear people young and old cheering them on, it’s something that will stay with the men and women of 2 SCOTS for many years to come.

“It was a particularly poignant moment to see serving soldiers attach crochet and knitted poppies to the First World War memorial banner in the town hall and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed so far.”

Lieutenant Colonel D C Close, Commanding Officer 2 SCOTS said: “After 6 months of performing operations 2 SCOTS are back to say thank you to our communities, to our recruiting areas, to our families and friends who have supported us throughout the last year.

“It is a joy to be in amongst our Scottish community who play a major role in supporting us and have done for many years.”

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


Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle NEXT MEETING

The next business breakfast networking meeting of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle will take place at 8am on Friday 2 November at the new Ayr Academy.

Our hosts are South Ayrshire Council.

As well as the usual excellent opportunity to network with other leading Ayrshire business people, the meeting will also provide a forum to hear from councillors and officials and discuss with them such topical issues as the Station Hotel and the regeneration of Ayr town centre. And of course to see round the new Ayr Academy.


Tea, coffee and rolls will be provided.

In order to facilitate seating and catering arrangements, please e-mail murdochmacdonald@hotmail.com to advise how many from your company will be attending, plus the number of any guests you may care to invite.

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


Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Regeneration of Ayr continues as Ayr Renaissance is wound down

The Administration of South Ayrshire Council has taken the decision to disband Ayr Renaissance.

Staff from the organisation had previously transferred to the Council, and the Ayr Renaissance Board will now be discontinued.

Projects being delivered by Ayr Renaissance will be picked up by the Council, and will continue to support the ongoing regeneration of Ayr Town Centre.


Leader of South Ayrshire Council, Douglas Campbell (pictured above) said: “I would like to thank the Board of Ayr Renaissance for all their hard work and dedication. Since 2009 they have worked alongside the Council, making a big difference to the establishment of an exciting vision for the Ayr.

“We are now at the stage where we can set aside the funds for projects to continue the regeneration of the Town Centre, and we want to know what the wider public think in advance of setting the Council budget in March of next year.

“We’re committed to making the most of the local economy, and having welcoming towns and villages are a big part of that ambition. Town centres which are lived in are much more attractive places to be, so we are looking at changing planning regulations to allow empty shops and businesses to become residential properties.

“Bringing people back into the heart of Ayr Town Centre is vital. and we know that large numbers of people use our swimming pools. The Citadel is nearing the end of its useful life, and we believe there is an opportunity to increase footfall if a new swimming pool were built in the Town Centre.

“We need a new plan for the riverside, as the Council is no longer building an office block. We have taken the decision to disperse staff into buildings we currently own, most of which are in Ayr. In our new plan we propose a small housing development on the riverside following the clearance of land previously earmarked for new Council offices. Our preferred option is to retain much of the land as a public square with prominent views of the Town Hall and the High St.

“The High St could also benefit from new public spaces, and we would also look at making the Fish Cross and the square beside the former Clydesdale Bank much more attractive places to be.

“We are also looking at making more of our streets, are the bus stops in the right places? Should there be more or less street furniture?

“We cannot ignore Burns Statue Square and the need to improve the access to the top of the town. Our intention is to demolish Burns House by 2020, and, should there be a new cinema in the centre of the town, the current cinema may close and this could be the start of a new street design. We are also concerned about the future of the Station Hotel and any new developments at the railway. We keenly await proposals from the owners about the future intentions once the Station Hotel is made safe.

“There is lots going on and it’s an exciting time to be involved in the regeneration of Ayr, but we want more engagement from the public over the coming months, so everyone is involved in building a lasting legacy for Ayr Town Centre.”

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


Sunday, 9 September 2018

Airshow wows the crowds with record numbers attending the two-day event

With 60,000 people descending on Ayr's Low Green on Saturday and 45,000 on Sunday this was the best attended airshow yet, with thousands more estimated to have enjoyed the displays along the South Ayrshire coastline and beyond.


Highlights for this year included intricate formation flying from the Red Arrows, which closed both days. Other memorable displays came from the thunderous Typhoons, the Catalina flying boat, the Swiss Classic Formation of 1940s transport, the Global Stars aerobatic team, and a jaw dropping aerobatic display from Lauren Wilson's Pitts Special biplane.

The family event also included a funfair with a giant Ferris Wheel ride; the STEM future technology Pavilion (sponsored by Spirit AeroSystems and UTC Aerospace Systems) promoting careers to young people; vintage vehicles, world food, stalls, and an RAF 100 concert at Ayr Town Hall featuring the Swing Cats and a 20 piece big band.


Councillor Brian McGinley, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism & Leisure said the event had been a resounding success, "We're proud to have hosted the Scottish International Airshow for the fifth time, with tens of thousands of people enjoying South Ayrshire at its best, with a fantastic weekend of amazing aerial displays and lots to do for families.

"The airshow has enjoyed unprecedented support thanks to record-breaking Council investment for 2018 and 2020, and it's great to see the event continue to grow from strength-to-strength against the backdrop of a spectacular coastline.


"With £5 million generated for the local economy last year, we expect similar benefits this year with retailers, restaurants and other businesses reaping the rewards of increased visitor numbers and tourism spend."

The Airshow was also supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland's Events Directorate.

"Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's Director of Events, said: "Scotland is the perfect stage for events and EventScotland is proud to have supported this year's Scottish International Airshow through our Beacon Fund Programme.

"It's great to see record crowds headed out to enjoy the thrills of the air displays alongside the entertainment and exhibitions on the ground over the two days, making for a great weekend out for all the family."


Doug Maclean, a Director of the Scottish International Airshow, added: "We enjoyed a fantastic airshow over the whole weekend, with people turning out in numbers to see our exciting programme.

"The fact that we attracted the Swiss Airforce and the Swiss Classic Formation this year shows the growing appeal of the event across Europe.

"We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to build on our success to date."

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


Saturday, 8 September 2018

Johnny Murtagh could go for Ayr Gold Cup glory

By: Iain Ferguson

FORMER jockey turned trainer Johnny Murtagh is hoping to make history by training the first Irish-based horse of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.


His three year-old colt Urban Beat (pictured nearest the camera) was highly impressive when winning the John Sisk & Son New Stand Handicap at the Curragh last Saturday, and has been installed as 10-1 clear favourite with sponsors William Hill.

After only seeing a racecourse once as a two year-old, Urban Beat was reintroduced at Navan in April, winning his maiden impressively before taking a Premier Handicap at the Curragh a month later by three and a half lengths.

Last Saturday’s win brought his tally to three from four and, providing the ground doesn’t quicken up, he could line up for Scotland’s riches race – the £200,000 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup at Ayr Racecourse.

Another horse to catch the eye recently was Global Applause who, having his first run for Robert Cowell, came from behind to win the 188Bet Extra Place Races Handicap at Sandown on Saturday. His odds have been slashed from 33s to as low as 14s.

Growl, trained by Richard Fahey, who was second in the race in 2016 to Brando, is available at 12s and has been running consistently this season while Gunmetal, winner of the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last month, is on 14-1

There is a total of £720,000 in prize-money on offer at the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival which runs from Thursday 20 September – Saturday 22 September.

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.