The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 28 February 2015

New Girvan Harbour works commence

There’s some great news for Girvan and South Carrick this week as work on the much anticipated landside facilities gets underway at Girvan Harbour.


[Pictured: South Ayrshire Councillors Alec Clark, John McDowall and Alec Oattes are with Bob Marr, Contract Manager, 3b Construction, at Girvan harbourside as works on the new facilities begin.]

Scheduled for completion by summer, the exciting development builds on the success of the marina’s pontoons, installed in 2013, which have already been a welcome boost for the town’s tourist potential as a sailing destination.

Representing an investment of just over £465,000, the new landside facilities will further enhance the marina, offering separate rest facilities for pontoon users and fishermen, public toilets and a modern harbourmaster’s office.

It comprises grant assistance of £132,000 from the Argyll & Bute and South Ayrshire Fisheries Local Action Group (this project is being part-financed by Axis 4 of the European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013 Programme) with the balance from South Ayrshire Council.


Welcoming the start of works, Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “This is brilliant news for Girvan and marks another significant step towards making the harbour area a first-class leisure and tourism hotspot.

“Working in partnership with the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, this investment reflects our on-going commitment to support Girvan’s fishing fleet, to promote the town as a port of call for visiting sailors and to help transform the harbour into an attractive area for local residents and visitors.

Michael McBrearty Chief Executive of Hub South West Scotland Limited, who are managing the delivery of the project, added:  “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with South Ayrshire Council delivering improved local facilities for Girvan.

“This project fully supports our commitment to engage local businesses, demonstrated by our partnership with 3B Construction Limited who are committed to supporting sustainable employment in the local area.” 

Councillor Grant concluded: “We’re determined to keep on making waves in Girvan and I look forward his important development being completed in time for the summer sailing season.”

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


Friday, 27 February 2015

A modern workforce for Scotland

First Minister announces campaign to get 
more females into Modern Apprenticeships

A new campaign aimed at promoting Modern Apprenticeships as career options for young women has been announced by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.


The ‘You work, You learn, You earn’ campaign will highlight the range of opportunities open to young people and encourage them to consider MAs in roles traditionally regarded as male dominated.

Last year (2013/14) 41 per cent of the new Modern Apprenticeship starts were female and the new campaign, delivered by Skills Development Scotland, will use three female Modern Apprentice role models to inspire others to use this career path.

Skills Development Scotland works closely with employers, such as GSK, to highlight the benefits of Modern Apprenticeships.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, on her 100th day in office, met six female MAs during a visit to GSK in Irvine where they work in a variety of roles, from laboratory scientists to instrument engineers and manufacturing.


The First Minister said: “Economic growth is crucial to any country and in Scotland we want to see growth that is balanced and involves everyone, which is why we want more women to enter the labour market.

“There are more women in work than ever before but we must continue to ensure they contribute fully to Scotland’s economy by opening up job opportunities across the employment spectrum.

“One way of stimulating that growth is by addressing the gender gap in Modern Apprenticeships. For too long certain industries have been dominated by men, but we want to haul down the barriers, real and perceived, that have restricted women from entering these sectors. 

“As we embark on the expansion of our successful Modern Apprenticeship programme, with our commitment to provide 30,000 new opportunities each year by 2020, we need to ensure that more young women are aware of the tremendous opportunities that a Modern Apprenticeship provides to learn while you earn. It is important that our young people see the full range of options available to them – not just those that are traditionally seen as jobs for men or for women.

“I want young women to be inspired to be mechanics, scientists or look at engineering as an employment option. This campaign will focus on removing those preconceived notions and will encourage young women to follow a career path which excites them.”

Skills Development Scotland chief executive Damien Yeates, said: “Modern Apprenticeships provide great opportunities for young people to work, learn and earn.

“By highlighting the stories of female apprentices we want to inspire young women to consider Modern Apprenticeships and work-based learning as valuable career options.

“We are also encouraging employers in growth sectors to take on apprentices to ensure they have the skills for the future and to provide more opportunities for young people.”


GSK’s Irvine site director Alastair Leighton said: "Over recent years we have taken on an increasing number of apprentices as part of our investment in ensuring we have the skills we need for now and the future. I continue to be impressed by the quality of young people joining our apprenticeship programme from our local area.”

Kirsty Hogg, an Instrument Engineering Apprentice at GSK is studying full time at Forth Valley College, said: “The apprenticeship route was always an option that made sense for me. I get to combine a college education and on-the-job training, while developing practical skills in engineering.”

The latest MA stats can be found HERE

More on Skills Development Scotland’s MAs campaign HERE 

GSK is a global healthcare company that is committed to helping people to do more, feel better and live longer. WEBSITE  


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Happier Mealtimes campaign highlights benefits of local, in-season food

People across Scotland are being encouraged to make the most of fresh and in-season local food with the launch of the Scottish Government’s Food Provenance ‘Happier Mealtimes’ campaign.

Launched by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead, the Food Provenance ‘Happier Mealtimes’ campaign champions the eating and sourcing of fresh, in-season food, which is nutritious, tastes delicious and also has environmental benefits. The four-week campaign also provides advice on how to find and use these foods, including easy to make, tasty recipes from some of Scotland’s leading chefs and food organisations. 


[Pictured launching the campaign at a pop-up kitchen in Edinburgh's Festival Square is Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, with chef Daniela Forbes.]

Mr Lochhead said: “Scotland’s food and drink is among the best to be found anywhere in the world. As we journey towards becoming a Good Food Nation I want us all to make the most of the abundance of fresh, tasty ingredients being produced right on our doorstep.

“The ‘Happier Mealtimes’ campaign will encourage Scots to look for local, in-season food which is fresher, full of flavour and good for the environment. It often works out cheaper too – meaning it’s a great way to keep shopping bills down while supporting your local economy.

“This is our Year of Food and Drink, making it the perfect time for us all to explore the wealth of tasty food from Scotland’s magnificent natural larder.” 

Local and in-season produce is easy to find when you know how; from local supermarkets, greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers and regular farmers’ markets all over Scotland, there is a wide range of produce available to suit all tastes and budgets.

For tips and recipe ideas for local and in-season food, and to find out more about the ‘Happier Mealtimes’ campaign and pop up kitchen roadshow visits, visit www.greenerscotland.org 

The ‘Happier Mealtimes’ pop up food kitchen will be visiting the following Ayrshire locations during the campaign:

Monday 2 March: Asda, Ayr 11.00 - 19.00

Tuesday 3 March: Tesco Extra, Kilmarnock 11.00 - 19.00

Wednesday 4 March: Asda, Ardrossan 11.00 - 19.00


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

CKD Galbraith offers for sale exceptional Ayrshire country house with stables, kennels and grazing land

Leading independent Scottish property consultancy CKD Galbraith is offering for sale Merkland House, by Mauchline, Ayrshire, a contemporary country house with excellent equestrian facilities and approximately four acres of grazing land.  The property was built in 2007 and occupies a beautiful, slightly elevated, rural site with open outlooks and uninterrupted views.


Visually, Merkland is a striking house with the warm hues of the natural stone contrasting against the rural backdrop.

Internally the property is equally impressive. Oak flooring and solid oak doors set the tone and the well-proportioned rooms are planned in a practical layout.

The formal living room has double aspect windows overlooking the surrounding countryside and French doors which open to a paved terrace.


The kitchen is undoubtedly the heart of the home. Modern wall and base units are complemented with granite worktops and a traditional rangemaster stove. The room is open to a dining area with French doors which open out to an elevated terrace – the perfect spot for breakfast in summer.

The utility room lies off the kitchen with a door to the rear. A shower room off the utility room saves muddy feet trailing through the house!

The family room lies adjacent to the kitchen and is accessed from both the hallway and the dining area. A log burning stove makes the room feel cosy.


The conservatory is accessed from the family room.

A study and cloakroom complete the ground floor accommodation.

Three good-sized bedrooms are on the first floor. All the rooms have excellent storage and in addition the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom.


The attention to detail continues outside Merkland House and offers excellent scope for further development. A purpose built portal framed shed is equipped with seven IAE loose boxes all supplied with automatic water and power. There is also a tack room, feed room and WC. An all-weather riding arena lies adjacent to the stabling and is flood lit. A separate outbuilding has planning permission for a cattery and there are kennels equipped with three dog runs and a preparation area. A chicken coop is situated within the garden. The land of Merkland House extends to approximately 4 acres and is well fenced.

Merkland House offers the complete rural package and, if there is any time left to work, it is just under a one hour drive to Glasgow city centre.

Offers Over of £475,000 are being sought.

CKD Galbraith
7 Killoch Place
Ayr KA7 2EA
Ayrshire, Scotland

Tel: 01292 268181
Fax: 01292 292300
E-mail: ayr@ckdgalbraith.co.uk

Web: www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Scotland is world-leading skills hub

New international research outlines opportunities 
for Scotland’s oil and gas sector

New international research confirms Scotland’s global position as a world leading training ground for the oil and gas sector.

The Scottish Enterprise survey of senior global industry figures shows that 74 per cent believed Scotland was one of the world’s leading training grounds for the industry, with 71 per cent agreeing that Scottish employees are some of the most dependable in the sector.

The research looked at the views of more than 260 senior industry leaders from businesses employing approximately 2.2 million people across the globe.


Welcoming the findings, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This poll comes at a time of change for the global energy sector. Turbulence in the oil markets is leading to some uncertainty about future work flows, but these results reinforce the value that Scottish businesses deliver to partners, particularly in deepwater and offshore exploration areas.

“More than two thirds go further, endorsing Scotland as a provider of training and development opportunities. And a similar number also commend Scottish expertise as either important on a day-to-day basis, or essential in achieving a company’s overarching objectives.

“Decades of innovation, cultivated in the North Sea, are being deployed globally and transferred to new and emerging exploration and production locations around the world, including West Africa.

“Our objective is to make clear that Scotland’s oil and gas wealth is not just in the resources that we extract, but the expertise that we have built up. We are working with the industry to continue to strengthen Scotland’s position as a global leader in the sector and these figures mark further growth in this important part of our economy.”


David Rennie, Head of the International Oil & Gas Sector at Scottish Enterprise said: “This research quantifies what we’ve long known and heard – that Scotland has a world-leading reputation when it comes to developing skills and experience in the oil & gas industry.

“The opportunity is therefore for Scotland to further build on the strengths we know we have when it comes to career development and progression, and use them to tap into more opportunities for both our people and our oil & gas supply chain at a global level.”


Commenting on the findings, Melfort Campbell, Chairman & CEO of IMES Group and Chair of the Independent Expert Commission on Oil & Gas, said: “It is essential that Scotland maintains its competitive edge in oil and gas and these new figures highlight, reassuringly, the value that our supply chain continues to create, as well as identify a number of strategic opportunities and challenges that can be developed further. Scotland’s role in the global oil and gas industry has long been characterised by constant evolution and development, but ultimately, this continued role relies on its ability to maintain its position within the global exploration and production market.

“To have the quality and capability of our industry endorsed by such a high percentage of our international partners is encouraging and enables us to identify new opportunities to enhance our position further. And while market conditions remain challenging, our capacity for innovation becomes ever more important. It will be our ability to adapt to these changing conditions – while supporting customers and partners elsewhere in the world to do the same – that will ensure a lasting legacy well into the future.”


First weekend racing of 2015 at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

WEEKEND racing comes to Ayr Racecourse for the first time this year with the Fab Friday Raceday on Friday 6 March, followed by Saturday Jumps Raceday on 7 March. 

On Friday the highlight is Coral Scottish Grand National Festival 17/18 April Handicap Chase over two and a half miles with £12,000 in the prize-pot and the main support is the two mile hurdle for the coveted James Barclay Challenge Trophy.  

Saturday’s meeting features the First Class Hospitality At Ayr Racecourse Handicap Chase for the Hugh Barclay Trophy as well as the two mile four furlong Handicap Hurdle for the Ayrshire Yeomanry Cup. 

It’s the last meeting at Ayr before the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival on 17 April and 18 April. 

Meanwhile at Ayr last Monday 23 February, Lucinda Russell continued her fine run of form saddling Nod Deal to win the Play Casino At BetVictor.com Handicap Chase for jockey Peter Buchanan. 

Lucinda, Scotland’s leading jumps trainer, is hitting form at the right time and is aiming to beat last season’s record total of 66 winners. 


The biggest shock of the afternoon came when Just Cameron (4/1) (pictured above nearest the camera), trained by Micky Hammond and ridden by Joe Colliver beat 1/3 shot Duke of Navan to win the two mile novices chase – a huge shock with only the bookmakers cheering on the winner.

The BetVictor.com Handicap Chase was won by the Rebecca Menzies trained, Tony Kelly ridden Chavoy, the 3/1 favourite. 

Scimon Templar landed the BetVictor Handicap Hurdle over two miles for trainer Pauline Robson and jockey James Reveley. 

For more information on racing at Ayr call 01292 264179 or go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk 

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.


Monday, 23 February 2015

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is coming to Ayr Town Hall

People from all over the west of Scotland and beyond will soon be able to see The Great Tapestry of Scotland when it comes to Ayr Town Hall. One of the UK’s largest ever community arts projects, and the longest embroidered tapestry in the world, it is a spectacle not to be missed at the free exhibition from Easter Saturday on 4 April to 31 May 2015.


[Pictured left to right: Councillor Allan Dorans, Councillor Bill Grant and Stuart Cresswell, Director Ayr Renaissance are getting ready for the arrival of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.]

The brainchild of acclaimed author Alexander McCall Smith, the tapestry traces the history of Scotland from the formation of our landscape millions of years ago, across every peak of Scotland’s history, into the 21st century. Naturally three of Ayrshire’s greatest heroes, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns, have their own dedicated panels of the tapestry.

James Knox, Chairman of Ayr Renaissance, who was responsible for bringing the tapestry to Ayr said: “This is a great moment in the regeneration of the heart of the town. It is a real coup to get the tapestry to the town hall, where it will attract hordes of visitors keen to see one of the most amazing artworks ever created in Scotland by Scots of Scots for Scots.” 

Councillor Bill Grant, Economic Development Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for the Council said: “The Council and Ayr Renaissance are working closely to make this an outstanding event and to ensure as many people as possible see it.  

“If you are handy with a needle and thread, interested in Scottish history, or simply want to visit a unique free exhibition, then make sure you visit The Great Tapestry of Scotland while it’s in Ayr Town Hall.

“With 160 historical panels each depicting a moment from Scotland’s past up to the 21st century, and created by skilled needlework enthusiasts, it will be a stunning sight. I know that I will be visiting more than once.”

The Great Tapestry of Scotland, reflects 420 million years of Scottish history. It took 1,000 stitchers, 50,000 sewing hours, 300 miles of yarn and took 160 panels to complete it. 

Best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith, together with historian Alistair Moffat, artist Andrew Crummy, and stitch coordinator Dorie Wilkie, created the design for the tapestry. Stitchers then translated the artwork into a colourful, skilful and textural depiction of the history of Scotland. 

There were some unforeseen challenges such as how to embroider a severed hand and deciding what colour an Indian elephant’s eye is. 

Alexander McCall Smith said: “The creation of this wonderful tapestry has been an experience of sheer joy. Not only has the team of artist and stitchers created a stunning record of Scotland’s history, but the project has brought together hundreds of people in all parts of Scotland in joint artistic endeavour.”

Councillor Grant concluded: “I am delighted that we will be hosting The Great Tapestry of Scotland at Ayr Town Hall. It took skill, imagination, determination, vision and millions of stitches to create and I congratulate everyone involved in the project.”

There will be a number of community and art activities organised to coincide with the exhibition, with details currently being finalised. 

So far over 210,000 people, with over 10,000 viewing it in the first two weeks have visited the exhibition at Stirling castle and when it comes to Ayr visitor numbers are expected to continue to be high.

To keep up to date with the progress of the Great Tapestry of Scotland visit www.scotlandstapestry.com or follow them through Facebook and Twitter.

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


Thursday, 19 February 2015

58 new South Ayrshire Council homes

58 ideal homes for South Ayrshire Council tenants are being created at Lochside in Ayr. Modern, bright, energy efficient and set in carefully landscaped areas, homes and a community to be proud of.

The Lochside homes costing £6 million will be the Council’s fifth new affordable housing development and is supported by Scottish Government funding. 


[Pictured: Councillor Philip Saxton, Housing and Customer First Portfolio Holder is pictured with Jane Armstrong and Andy McClung from the Lochside Neighbourhood Group as others involved in the project celebrate the start of the work.] 

This marks the start of a £15 million investment in new affordable housing across South Ayrshire over the next two years where the Council will work in partnership with the Scottish Government. 

Councillor Philip Saxton, Housing and Customer First Portfolio Holder for the Council said: “The result is a multi-million pound housing development that tenants can be proud of. These new houses reflect exactly what the people of Lochside want and we know that because we asked them.”

The new housing development comprises a mixture of flats, bungalows and cottages to meet the needs of different tenants. All the homes will be built to ‘Housing for Varying Needs’ standard and will be adaptable to accommodate the changing needs of tenants over the course of their lifetime. All the units will be modern and of a high quality and all will be highly energy efficient, making them affordable for tenants to heat and maintain.

The new development will be set within a bright and spacious streetscape with newly landscaped areas and connecting roads, which will improve the appearance of the area for local residents.

Jane Armstrong, Lochside Neighbourhood said: “This is a great thing for the people in the area and a great opportunity for local people. We have had our say on the overall design of this new housing development and have been delighted to work alongside services working in the area.” 

Councillor Saxton concluded: “The Council is committed to building new homes that meet the housing needs and aspirations of our tenants and these high quality modern energy efficient homes will do that.

“These new homes are a direct result of us working in partnership with the local community to bring about this ambitious housing development.  For the new tenants, whether returning to Lochside when the houses are complete, or relocating there the future is bright.” 

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


Scottish employment level at record high

Unemployment level falls to below 150,000 for first time since 2009

The number of people in employment in Scotland has reached a record high of 2,625,000, according to Labour Market Statistics published by the ONS covering the period October – December 2014. These figures also show the level of unemployment fell by 15,000 over the quarter and has now reached below 150,000 for the first time since 2009.


Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed the latest figures that show:

• Scotland is outperforming the UK with higher employment, lower unemployment and higher participation rates
• Youth unemployment fell to its lowest level and rate in five years, whilst youth employment increased over the year
• Inactivity rates are at the lowest on record at 21.3%
• Female employment increased by 20,000 over the quarter to 1,301,000 - the highest female employment level on record
• The female participation rate is also at a record high of 75.5 per cent, above the UK rate of 72.5 per cent


The Deputy First Minister said: “Today’s figures are hugely encouraging and demonstrate a robust, more inclusive and active Scottish workforce supporting our economy which in itself is going from strength to strength. We must remain absolutely focused on continuing to deliver those better economic prospects and vigilant about challenges within different sectors of the economy.

“Scotland is outperforming the UK on all three headline labour market indicators with employment continuing to increase and unemployment down. We have moved up two places in European youth unemployment rate comparisons at a time when we strive to create not just more, but better, jobs for those living in Scotland.

“Unemployment is now back to levels not seen since 2009 as the Scottish economy continues to recover.

“Female employment and participation are both at a record high, and above UK rates. The gap between male and female employment rates in Scotland has shrunk to a record low of 4.0 percentage points – compared to 9.5 percentage points in the UK. Not only is the employment rate in Scotland higher, we are also seeing more women in employment.

“This clearly demonstrates that the Scottish Government can do much to secure economic growth, tackle inequality and protect public services within the limited powers we have, but we want to – and can – do more.

“UK Government proposals for the devolution of support to the unemployed fall well short of what was promised, hampering efforts to address joblessness by devolving only a section of the current support network and leaving important levers to support people as soon as they become unemployed in the hands of UK ministers.

“We will be working closely with stakeholders to ensure these proposals are improved for Scotland and that they reflect the views of ordinary people.”

The Deputy First Minister continued: “The Scottish Government is committed to working with a range of partners to support all of Scotland’s young people towards and into employment. And it’s encouraging to see the youth unemployment level and rate fell to their lowest in five years, whilst the youth employment level increased. While we are approaching the pre-recession level of youth unemployment - a good benchmark - we have ambition to see this go much further.

“I strongly believe the public sector should lead by example and take forward the recruitment and training of young people by engaging with the education system to provide development opportunities for young people. Organisations such as Scottish Enterprise who are achieving the status of Investors in Young People set a good example and I hope to see more public sector bodies following their lead.”


Second February meeting at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse holds its second meeting of the month with February Jumps Raceday on Monday 23 February.


The six race card kicks off with a two mile maiden hurdle at 2.20pm and runs through to the two mile four furlong handicap chase at 4.20pm.

The feature race, is the Best Odds Guaranteed at BetVictor.com Handicap hurdle over two miles with a prize fund of £10,000 with the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase over three miles three furlongs the main supporting race.

For more information on racing at Ayr call 01292 264179 or go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk

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.