The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 8 March 2018

South Ayrshire Council agrees multi-million pound budget for people and places

A budget “shaped by our people, for our people” has been set by South Ayrshire Council as Councillors agreed spending plans for people and places across South Ayrshire.

[Pictured left to right: Councillors Alec Clark, 
Douglas Campbell, Brian McGinley and Brian Connolly.]

The £186 million revenue budget for 2018/19 and eight-year £237 million capital programme 2018/19-2025/26 will support the delivery of the new Council Plan – also being considered – which sets out the difference the Council wants to make for the people of South Ayrshire.

In agreeing the budget, Councillors approved a Council Tax increase of 3 per cent, which will raise Council Tax for a Band D property in South Ayrshire by £35.66 – or around 69p per week – to £1,224.23.

The £53.8 million this raises will help fund and protect Council services over the next year.

Councillors used feedback from this year’s ‘Balancing the Budget’ consultation to determine funding priorities as well as areas for efficiencies.

A number of savings proposals were removed from consideration ahead of today’s budget meeting as a direct result of the consultation responses and the better than expected grant funding settlement from the Scottish Government, which not only maintained funding levels, but included additional monies for social care.

This has resulted in Councillors agreeing further budget savings of almost £3.7 million, bringing the total to just under £6 million. These are mainly based around reviewing work processes, revising staffing structures and changing financing arrangements – minimising the impact on frontline services, people and communities.

Thanks to the Council’s prudent and effective financial management, the budget also includes additional investment in key areas that support the Council’s vision for Our People, Our Place. This includes: 

*Increasing the school clothing grant by 50 per cent to £75 pounds (£66,000)

£65,000 to support the schools at the heart of the community project and to provide additional holiday activities for schools in the most socially-disadvantaged areas

£20,000 to reinstate a fund to support community galas

£17,000 to cover the letting costs for breakfast clubs in our schools

Supporting the development of place plans for the five towns and villages programme, with £100,000 for improved signage and community engagement

£75,000 to support staff training and retraining initiatives to ensure the Council can deliver the right services in the best possible way.

Councillors agreed the use of £1.5 million of uncommitted reserves for revenue spending, and a further £3 million from uncommitted reserves split evenly between the Repairs and Renewals Fund and the Capital Fund

They also approved funding of £71 million pounds for the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, which is an increase of 2.5 per cent on previous years. Like all other Council services, health and social care will have to meet necessary additional costs, such as funding for pay awards, and that will be reflected in how the Integrated Joint Board (which is responsible for the Partnership) plans to balance its budget. Combined with Scottish Government funding via the NHS, that will come to a total of almost £79 million.

Council Leader Douglas Campbell said: “What we have agreed today is an unprecedented budget for this Council – a budget that has been shaped by our people, for our people.

“It’s the outcome of consultation and engagement with thousands of people across South Ayrshire who took the time to have their say – and to whom we have listened and responded. As a result, this budget genuinely balances the resources we have with the services and facilities people want and need, and I want to thank those people for their participation.

“From the outset last year, we have been clear as an administration about what matters to us, and that is our people and our places. They sit at the heart of everything we do and the ambitions we have, not just for the Council, but for the whole South Ayrshire area.

“We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, through this budget, we are laying the foundations for a strengthened South Ayrshire that works for all, but especially the most in need.

“I’m pleased we have addressed the restrictions of the current financial climate head-on, while taking steps to ensure the impact and burden of balancing the budget doesn’t fall on those least able to pay.

“That’s not been easy, and we’ve had to do this while meeting necessary costs like pay awards for staff and increased contractual costs – all of which impacts on how much we have to spend.

“That’s why we can be proud that we have agreed a balanced budget today that not only bridges the challenging budget gap we’ve had to meet, but also provides an ambitious programme of investment that will improve lives and make a difference where it matters most.

“This budget invests in our vision, in our people, and in our places to create a strong, sustainable South Ayrshire – and that’s something we all want to see.”

Councillor Brian McGinley, Depute Leader of the Council, said: “Our budget for 2018/19 is testament to our commitment to deliver for our people and our places, and targets investment and support where it can have the biggest impact.

“By boosting the monies available for the likes of clothing grants, breakfast clubs and holiday activities, we will make positive progress in tackling poverty, inequality and social injustice in South Ayrshire and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“I’m also pleased that, on the back of the pilot of Our People, Our Place – our schools as community hubs programme – in Newton Primary and Ayr Academy, we’re putting money into making more public services, help and support available on people’s doorsteps. We know from the recent pilot that such an approach really can and will make a difference.

“We’ve also done all we can to keep the impact of the budget cuts we’ve had to make away from our frontline services – and that will continue for future years with further savings focused around our organisational structure, our properties and our ways of working.

“Given what we were facing, this budget is not only the best possible outcome; it’s a positive outcome that will make life better for our people and our places.”

At the Council meeting, a new eight-year capital investment programme – which sets out total investment of almost £237 million until 2025/26 – was also agreed.

Key features of the programme include: 

More than £43 million strategic investment in ICT

An additional £12 million for a new ‘all-through’ campus at Carrick Academy, taking the budget to more than £19 million as part of a total investment package of more than £74 million in the education estate

£3 million more in 2018/19 for road reconstruction and improvement

£1 million to support Maybole town centre regeneration

£750,000 to support the implementation of 20 mile per hour speed limits in towns and villages

£855,000 to improve public toilet provision.

Independent Councillors, Alec Clark and Brian Connolly added: “Through this budget, we’re delivering investment that will make a significant difference for communities right across South Ayrshire, including those in our rural areas, and that is great to see.

“Our spending programme highlights the ambitions we have for South Ayrshire and backs up what we want to achieve through our Council Plan to give people the best possible opportunities, a sense of value and a real pride in their communities.

“That’s particularly clear in our capital programme which will have a positive impact, in one way or another, on every single person in South Ayrshire. It will deliver investment that benefits children and families, adults and older people, visitors and businesses, and our wider communities, as part of a record-breaking package worth – on average – around £30 million per year. This is something that will create a legacy for years to come, whether it’s investment in schools, roads, sport and leisure, or public spaces.

“And by putting the monies needed into our ICT and infrastructure, we can really start to transform how we deliver services on the ground, so there really is something for everyone. 

“We have worked tirelessly to get to this place and – crucially – we have listened to what people want. That’s not something that has ever happened in such a meaningful way before and well and truly confirms this budget as one for our people and our places.”

Full details of the budget agreed by Councillors today can be found HERE.

Council Tax notices confirming the increased Council Tax charges for 2018/19 will issue to households later this month.

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

Friday, 2 March 2018

Jockey Ross Chapman bags a four timer at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

JOCKEY Ross Chapman stole the show at Ayr Racecourse last Monday, riding his first ever four timer and finishing second on his only other mount.

[Pictured: Instingtive gives Ross Chapman 
his fourth winner at Ayr last Monday.]

And after steering Instingtive to victory in the Biggest Jumps Season on Racing UK Handicap Hurdle for win number four, Ross joked: “It should have been five.”

As a result of the wins, Ross had his 5lb allowance reduced to 3lb and added: “Unfortunately that’s me down to 3Ib now, so I’m chuffed in a way but I know it’s going to get harder now. Hopefully I can keep riding winners and trainers will continue to support me.”

The Chapman quartet came courtesy of Presented in the three mile two furlong handicap chase for trainer Lisa Harrison who also saddled the aforementioned Instingtive, The Delray Munky for his guv’nor Iain Jardine in the three mile handicap hurdle and Bulls Head in the two mile four furlong handicap hurdle.

The one that got away was Bobbie’s Diamond in the two mile four furlongs novices’ chase who finished threequarters of a length second to Looksnowtlikebrian. The latter was ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson who was riding his 150th winner of the season – the 12th time he had achieved that landmark.

Richard said: “He made hard work of that and didn’t jump great today. He jumped nicely on his first two starts over fences, but he never really got into a rhythm on the ground and that was probably the main problem. He’s got a good engine, though, and is getting the hang of it slowly.”

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, 1 March 2018

Triple celebration as South Ayrshire libraries go from strength to strength

The quality and performance of services people receive at South Ayrshire Council's libraries is being highlighted as staff come together to mark their recent success.

[Pictured: Staff were joined at the Carnegie Library in Ayr by Councillor Brian McGinley, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism & Leisure to toast the success of staff.]

South Ayrshire Libraries came first in Scotland in the Local Government Benchmarking Figures for the cost of delivering their service; and were ranked as fourth in Scotland for customer satisfaction in the National Household Survey. Meanwhile the Council’s online library services were used two million times in 2016/17 as more people make use of the internet to access services and information.

Staff were joined at the Carnegie Library in Ayr by Councillor Brian McGinley, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism & Leisure to toast the success of staff.

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

Friday, 16 February 2018

Richest ever Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

THIS year’s Coral Scottish Grand National Festival will be the richest ever in history with a massive £714,000 in prize-money – a near £100,000 increase on last year.

[Pictured: Sam Twiston-Davies celebrates winning last year’s 
Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse.]

Run on Friday 20 April and Saturday 21 April, the Festival features a brand new £100,000 race to be staged on the Saturday.

A three mile open novices’ handicap chase over three miles, it will be the second race on the card and becomes the third six-figure-plus race on the day alongside the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National and the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle.

The race will be a championship final for novice chasers who, to qualify. must have finished in the first eight in at least one weight for age novices’ or beginners chase during the 2017-2018 season, and will be supported by the BHA’s Development Fund as part of the Fund’s 2018 expenditure.

There are 15 races across the two days, including two Grade 2s, a Grade 3 and two Listed Races.

Most of the leading trainers in the UK and Ireland are likely to have runners, and the top jockeys riding should include Richard Johnson, Sam Twiston-Davies, Brian Hughes, Tom Scudamore and Ruby Walsh.

The principal race on the Friday is the £50,000 Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase, a Listed Race over two miles four furlongs.

Another race to have received a financial boost is Friday’s Mares’ Handicap Hurdle which increases in value from £25,000 to £30,000.

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown said : “We are excited by the addition of the new race on the Saturday, and with other significant increases in prize-money throughout the two days it is by some way the richest ever jumps Festival in Scotland.”

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, 15 February 2018

Work underway to deliver new arrival hub for Belleisle visitors

Work to transform the derelict stables at Ayr's Belleisle Estate into a vibrant visitor hub is now underway. Once completed, the new project will provide the tens of thousands of people using the park every year with a central base from which to explore the park.

[Pictured: Work is now well underway on the project.]

The £1.4million project will create a brand new ‘Arrival hub’ that will include a flexible community space, a cafĂ©, facilities for Park Rangers, and visitor toilets. The building will use reclaimed stone and glass to provide a visual transition between Belleisle House, Belleisle Golf Course, and the outstanding environment of the wider estate.

The building will be powered by a biomass boiler, one of the cleanest, greenest renewable energy sources and an example of the Council’s commitment to help protect the environment.

[Pictured: Artist’s Impression of how the new visitor hub will look.]

Prestwick-based contractor Ashleigh Construction has been appointed to construct the facility, which is expected to complete by November 2018.

The work is part of a wider programme at Belleisle Estate, which has benefited from investment of around £5 million in the last three years, which has seen visitor numbers double to 200,000 as a result.

Councillor Ian Cochrane, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment said he was looking forward to seeing the end results. “We’ve seen fantastic improvements at Belleisle in recent years and the new visitor centre will create a focal point for the huge number of people that are already coming to enjoy the estate.

“With major projects already completed including the Conservatory, walled Garden, play area, and major improvements to the footpaths and wildlife and fauna within the park. we’re looking forward to seeing the stables rise to become a much loved community asset.

"In the next few months we’ll see the visitor centre take shape, with people able to enjoy the new facility by the end of the year. After that the last major piece of work involves restoration to the entrance after which we’ll be left with an estate which is well and truly back to its best.”

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

Monday, 5 February 2018

Ayr Racecourse retains VisitScotland 5-Star status

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse, Scotland’s premier racecourse and only Grade One track, has once again been awarded the highest accolade in Scottish tourism - VisitScotland’s 5-Star Visitor Attraction status.

The Racecourse retained the coveted top grading following an incognito visit by one of VisitScotland’s Quality and Tourism Advisors to experience and assess aspects ranging from the standards of its visitor information, signage and car parking, exterior and interior presentation and cleanliness, to the hospitality and friendliness of staff, and quality of the catering.

The scores each area achieved combined to ensure we once again were awarded 5 Star Visitor Attraction Status which was first bestowed on Ayr Racecourse in 2015 and has been retained each year since.

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown said: “I am delighted on behalf of all of the team at Ayr that we have once again been awarded 5-Star Visitor Attraction status.

“The standards set to achieve this award are incredibly high and we have set a high bar for customer service not just to originally be originally awarded 5 stars but to maintain these standards since 2015 and to keep this status.”

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, 4 February 2018

New Invergarven School reaches major milestone with timber frame in place

Ambitious plans to transform the education of children and young people with additional support needs in Girvan and South Carrick are now well advanced. The South Ayrshire Council project to build a new Invergarven School has reached a major milestone, with the timber frame exterior now complete.

[Pictured: With the timber frame in place, work 
continues on the new Invergarven School.]

Built in 1870, Invergarven is a special school for primary and secondary children and young people with complex additional support needs. The new £3.7m facility, which will replace the current building on Henrietta Street, is being built by CBC in the grounds of Girvan Academy, delivering spaces for learning and teaching including a sensory room, life skills kitchen, multi-use hall, hydrotherapy pool and external areas that support outdoor learning.

The new school will increase capacity by around a third with 20 children and young people able to be taught at any one time (up from 15 at the old school).

[Artist’s impression of how the new Invergarven School will look.]

Councillor Peter Henderson, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance said the project had now reached an important stage, “With the timber frame shell now in place, the new school’s reached its first major milestone, with the contractor now concentrating on making the building wind and watertight.

“There’s still a lot of work to do before the school opens later this year but children, young people and families are already looking forward to using a modern building that will enjoy close ties with neighbouring Girvan Academy.

“We’re committed to making life better for people in South Ayrshire and delivering the best possible education to children and young people. This project is a great example of investing in a rural community and allowing Invergarven to build on its enviable reputation for excellence.”

The new Invergarven School is expected to open in August 2018.

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

Friday, 2 February 2018

Ayr Racecourse and Western House announce Ayrshire Cancer Support as nominated charity partner

By: Iain Ferguson

AYRSHIRE Cancer Support has been announced as the nominated charity partner for Ayr Racecourse and Western House.

The partnership will run for two years, and during that time, in addition to assisting in fund-raising events, the Racecourse and Western House will aim to heighten the public profile of the Ayrshire-wide charity.

[Pictured left to right: Laura Brown, Income and Marketing Manager at Ayrshire Cancer Support, Mark Ellwood, travelling head lad with the Lucinda Russell yard and Behindthelines, and Colette Swain, Operations Manager, Ayr Racecourse at the launch of the partnership between Ayr Racecourse and the charity.]

Sandra McCall, CEO of Ayrshire Cancer Support said: “I am thrilled to have Ayr Racecourse as our latest charity partner. Ayrshire Cancer Support relies on partnerships like this to fund our life-saving work in Ayrshire. It's an honour to work alongside such prestigious businesses like Ayr Racecourse, and our team is looking forward to engaging in this really exciting partnership.”

David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse and Western House added: “I am delighted to announce this partnership, which I am sure will help Ayrshire Cancer Support with fundraising and also raise the profile of what is a much valued life-saving charity.

“Right across Ayrshire they carry out endless work helping cancer sufferers and their families and I am honoured the team at Ayr Racecourse and Western House will be working alongside this invaluable charity.”

Ayrshire Cancer Support offer a range of services throughout the district, and has grown considerably since being founded in 1982.

The charity now has 45 volunteer drivers operating out of the two centres in Ayr and Kilmarnock.

This second to none patient transport service provides free transport to people undergoing cancer treatment and attending hospital appointments, with the high percentage of the journeys being made to the Beatson Hospital in Glasgow.

An incredible 600,000 miles a year are driven by Ayrshire Cancer Support volunteers in carrying out this service. The charity employs 15 members of staff as well in addition to a team of more than 320 volunteers.

The vast amount of work carried out by the charity also includes providing face to face free counselling for cancer patients and their families at both the Ayr and Kilmarnock centres, and Ayrshire Cancer Support also provide a range of complementary therapies which help to relieve the symptoms of cancer.

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 January 2018

British woman who has improved lives for millions in India receives Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2018

A British woman who has transformed millions of lives in India was named winner of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award (RBHA) 2018 last week at a special ceremony hosted by South Ayrshire Council in the very house where the Scots Bard was born 259 years ago.

Anna Ferrer – who was born in Essex and has worked in India since the mid-1960s – was recognised for her decades of dedication and devotion to women’s rights and tackling poverty in her adopted homeland. 

Her fight for equality was considered by award judges to echo Burn’s well-known saying, “a man’s a man for a’ that, which is based on the premise that we all deserve the same opportunities and same chances in life as everyone else. Judges were struck by her unwavering commitment to improving people’s lives and the far-reaching impact she has had. They also praised her efforts to ensure her organisation stayed relevant by evolving to meet new needs.

Along with her husband, Vicente, Anna set up the Rural Development Trust (RDT) – with a particular focus on women’s rights – in 1969. Focusing on the promotion, and provision, of education, health and homes, RDT now impacts the lives of 3.6 million people in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 

Over almost 50 years, RDT has established four major hospitals, six rural clinics, two mobile clinics and other special-care centres that administer treatment for basic to advanced ailments and infectious diseases. It has also launched its own supplementary schools, built housing and accommodation, and created access to water – all of which has transformed lives.

Chair of the RBHA Judging Panel, South Ayrshire Council Leader Douglas Campbell said: “We were all blown away by Anna’s story, which is really remarkable. At a very young age, she travelled thousands of miles overseas and found her purpose in life, which was all about helping others. It’s a purpose that has stayed with her for almost 50 years and absolutely resonates with Robert Burns’ humanitarian values.

“It was an honour and a privilege to share in her story and to say thank you and show our appreciation for all that she has done.”

Anna’s award was accepted on her behalf by Dr Raj Koppada from the UK-based charity, Friends of Rural Development Trust. 

Speaking from India, Anna said: “This award comes as a wonderful surprise. I really admire the efforts of my fellow finalists and I did not expect to win. It's a great recognition that the eradication of extreme poverty is not a dream but a reality, and that with commitment, constancy and belief in people, nothing is impossible.

“I accept this award in the name of all our team and people – men, women and children – who have fought bravely and peacefully to come out of extreme poverty and bondage. I also acknowledge the great motivation of my late husband, Vincent Ferrer, who convinced us that people's dreams of a better future were achievable. My thanks to all.”

Anna intends to use the RBHA prize money – the equivalent of 1759 guineas, approximately £1,800, which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage then in circulation – for RDT’s Women and Girls Shelter Home. This supports women and girls – many as young as 14 and 16 years old – who are pregnant and abandoned, escaping failed early marriages or victims of sexual assault. The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award will help support them to start new lives.

Also recognised at the unique award ceremony were RBHA finalists and runners-up, Sandra Brown OBE and 12-year-old Mason Kidd – the youngest ever Robert Burns Humanitarian Award finalist.

Sandra – founder of the Moira Anderson Foundation – was recognised for her bravery and courage of conviction to put others first, right the wrongs of the past and to become not only a beacon of hope, but a means of practical support, to those who have experienced horrific abuse so that they can enjoy a positive future. Speaking at the award ceremony, she said it had been a memorable evening especially as Burns’ own words had kept her going at times when speaking out against great injustice or speaking out about things people don’t want to hear: ‘There's nane ever fear'd that the truth should be heard, But they whom the truth would indite’.

Mason was recognised for a wide variety of small acts of what he calls ‘Kidd kindness’ as well as impressive fundraising efforts to honour his brother’s memory. His selflessness and generosity of spirit has had a ripple effect and left smiles on faces everywhere he went.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Mason said he just wanted to make everyone smile and was excited that he had been able to do that at the award ceremony.

Douglas Campbell concluded: “Anna, Sandra and Mason are great humanitarians and make us all want to be better people. Their experiences and efforts are truly humbling a perfect tribute to the Bard as we celebrate his birthday and the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2018.”

Part of the annual Alloway 1759 celebrations, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award – supported by South Ayrshire Council and Scotland's Winter Festivals – recognises courage, commitment, inspiration and hands-on humanitarian efforts from people of any nationality, race, age or gender.

Friday, 26 January 2018

The HALO Kilmarnock receives planning permission in principle

The HALO, Kilmarnock’s £65 million urban regeneration on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant, reached a significant milestone today (26 January 2018) when it received the green light from East Ayrshire Council.

At a special meeting of East Ayrshire Council’s Planning Committee, Councillors agreed to grant planning permission in principle for The HALO, allowing the developers, HALO Kilmarnock Limited, to proceed to the submission of detailed plans for the development to East Ayrshire Council over the coming weeks.

Marie Macklin, The HALO’s founder, said: “This important community-led project has been eight years in the making and I am thrilled that we have reached this landmark today. We can now push forward with the development of The HALO, creating enterprise opportunities, not just for Kilmarnock, but for East Ayrshire and Scotland as a whole.”

About The HALO Kilmarnock

The HALO is an imaginative, innovative and inspirational regeneration initiative to revitalise the centre of Kilmarnock and support the growth and resilience of the Ayrshire economy.

It will create a dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter of the town, including an unique Enterprise and Innovation Centre - all fuelled by renewable energy.

This multi-faceted regeneration of a 23-acre site, formerly the home of Johnnie Walker, the world’s leading Scotch whisky, will generate over £53million in GDP for Kilmarnock and £65million for Scotland. The development will stimulate over 1800 jobs.

The HALO has evolved through significant community and key partner consultation and engagement. A multi-disciplinary project team has developed proposals that address a range of design, technical, commercial and economic factors aligned to the overall objectives of delivering sustainable, long-term economic and social benefits for the town of Kilmarnock and the wider Ayrshire community.

The Halo Kilmarnock Limited (THKL) is a development company formed by Macklin Enterprise Partnerships, The Klin Group and Ross Developments & Renewables to bring together a highly experienced property development team with the skills, resources and capacity to deliver a unique project that will add real value to the Scottish economy.