The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Scotland economy grew faster than the UK’s in last quarter

By: Murdoch MacDonald

SCOTTISH GDP growth exceeded the UK growth rate in the last quarter of 2007 but still lags behind over the year, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney has announced.

Latest GDP figures, published this week, show that:

* Scottish GDP rose by 2.2 per cent in 2007 and by 0.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007.

* In comparison, UK GDP rose by 2.9 per cent in 2007 and by 0.6 per cent over the final quarter of 2007.

John Swinney (pictured above) said: “The Scottish economy grew at a faster rate than the UK in the last quarter of 2007, a welcome and positive piece of news in the current climate. The financial services sector was buoyed by the highest ever quarterly growth in banking.

“But overall growth over the year lags behind the UK growth rate, highlighting the important focus of the Scottish Government on increasing sustainable economic growth.

“Scotland is not isolated from global conditions. Looking ahead, we know the labour market in Scotland remains resilient and performs better than the UK, with a lower unemployment and higher employment rate. Business survey evidence suggests GDP growth may slow in the first quarter of 2008.

“It brings into sharp relief the urgent need to make Scotland a more competitive environment to put us on the course for long-term success and achieve our target of matching the UK growth rate.

“We are already delivering - we have saved millions of pounds for 150,000 small businesses by reducing business rates at a time when costs are rising. The is money that can be reinvested in improving small business.

“We have refocused enterprise networks and our Government Economic Strategy puts increasing sustainable economic growth at the heart of everything we do. We must push ahead with these reforms and make Scotland better able to withstand the pressures the future may bring.”

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Friday, 25 April 2008

Ayr Racecourse attracts record crowds
for Scottish Grand National Festival

By: Our Own Correspondent

ALMOST 22,000 people flocked to Ayr Racecourse over last weekend for the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival.


The two-day crowd was the largest for more than 25 years, with 5,500 in attendance on Friday and more than 17,200 on Saturday.

And a staggering 1.1 million viewers watched the race live on Channel 4 – a significant increase on last year.

The new £4.5 million Grandstand Bar opened for the first time, and was voted a great success. One racegoer, Alan Clarke from Ayr said: “The facilities here have improved greatly. The new bar is a tremendous asset, and there was very little queuing over the two days.”

More than 1,500 people stayed on to watch The Saw Doctors on Friday night and the Irish rockers played a set that lasted almost two hours.

It certainly was thirsty work over the weekend, and almost 50,000 pints of beer were sold and bar taking were up on the same weekend last year.

Tote turnover at their on course betting outlets was also appreciably up year on year, and the 18 new bookmakers pitches in the Paddock Lawn area and in the Grandstand also reported brisk business.

A total of 800 staff were on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly, and a huge fleet of taxis ferried punters into Ayr and Prestwick and other surrounding towns and villages after racing, ensuring a huge spin-off for the local community.

Racecourse spokesman Iain Ferguson said: “The weekend was a great success, and my phone has been red-hot with people congratulating the team at Ayr on a job well done.

“In addition to the great crowd, we also had increased media interest, and had the Channel 4 racing team here, two BBC Television crews, a team from Scottish Television, BBC radio news and sports reporters, local radio journalists and an army of writers and photographers from all the leading newspapers in the UK and Ireland.

”The Ayrshire economy will have had a huge spin-off running well into seven figures, with local hotels, bars, restaurants, taxi operators and shops all benefiting.”

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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Glasgow Prestwick Airport reports increasing
passenger numbers and freight figures

By: Neil Richardson

Glasgow Prestwick Airport’s performance in March signalled a strong end to the 2007/08 financial year.

The Ayrshire airport handled 192,142 passengers in March against 180,978 during the same month in 2007 - a year on year rise of 6%, and a 16% improvement on February’s performance.

Glasgow Prestwick handled 2,426,630 passengers from April 2007 to March 2008 – a marginal improvement on last year’s total.

New destinations that have started operating from the airport in the last year include Katowice, Belfast, Budapest, Cork and Poznan, with several of the new links exclusive to Scotland.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive Mark Rodwell said the results once again demonstrate the importance of the airport to the Ayrshire and Scottish economies, particularly in terms of tourism and employment.

It is only weeks since Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond attended the launch of an economic study which found that inbound visitors using Glasgow Prestwick generate £173 million of expenditure, while the airport’s presence accounts for 3,000 jobs in Scotland.

Mark Rodwell (pictured above) commented: “It is pleasing to see growth in the passenger sector, particularly after we discovered how important foreign visitors are to the Ayrshire and Scottish economies.

“Several new services have been introduced over the last 12 months and are performing well, which is encouraging as we move towards the peak summer season.”

A strong focus on developing the freight business is also starting to pay off, with the airport now breaking the 3,000 tonne barrier on a more regular basis.

The March total of 3,260 tonnes marks a 5% improvement on March 2007 and a 34% increase on February’s total.

Freight has also increased year on year with the 31,735 tonnes handled between April 2007 and March 2008 representing a 4% increase on the previous 12 months.

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