The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 8 August 2008

Kilmarnock College managers confident of new campus go-ahead

By: Murdoch MacDonald

KILMARNOCK COLLEGE managers are confident that plans for a new £40million campus will go ahead, despite a Scottish Funding Council delay to the project.

The SFC’s Capital Investment Committee has told the college that cash is not available under the current spending review covering the period until 2011, despite agreeing to the need for the new building and praising the college’s outline business case.

Chairman of the College’s board of management Stephen Brannagan said: “We would like to correct suggestions in some sections of the media that the plans have come to a halt. Whilst we are disappointed that we will not be eligible for funding under the current review, we are confident that we can work with the SFC to ensure that the project is given the go-ahead at the earliest possible moment. Reports that we have been turned down for funding are well wide of the mark, as we have not yet actually applied for the cash. We have submitted an outline business case, and this has been well received.”

The outline business case included a number of options: for the rebuilding of the college on a new site, the rebuilding of the college on the existing site or a redevelopment of the existing building.

The SFC committee acknowledged that an appropriate plan should be put in place, but has asked the college to delay submission of a final outline business case until a new Principal is in post and planned management development is in place.

Stephen Brannagan said: “We expect to announce the appointment of a new Principal in September, with the successful candidate taking up his or her position by the end of the year. The new management team will be in place by the end of September.

“Whilst we are disappointed at the delay, we believe that the work we have already undertaken on the project will stand us in good stead when the SFC are in a position to make funds available for the further development of our plans. We would expect to resubmit our outline business case in early 2009.

“Our original estimates saw the appointment of a construction company by 2010 and completion by 2012. This latest news would only delay us by an estimated 12 months.

“The new management team at Kilmarnock College is determined to present the strongest possible case over the coming months for a new college designed to fulfil the needs and aspirations of learners in Ayrshire in the 21st century.

“We have made giant strides over the past year to improve both the management procedures and educational opportunities within the college, and we look forward to a bright and successful future at the heart of Kilmarnock’s planned regeneration.

“The Funding Council committee have accepted the need for a new college, and have praised our outline business case, so we are disappointed that funds are not available at this stage. The people of Kilmarnock and the surrounding area need and deserve a modern further educational facility to help revitalise its social and economic development.

“In the interim, the new management team will continue to improve both the college’s administrative performance and its range of classes and courses. We are determined to ensure that the college provides the highest quality and choice of further education and career enhancement opportunities.”

The letter from the SFC committee to the college states: “The committee recognises the work that Acting Principal Dr Gordon Jenkins and Chairman Stephen Brannagan have put in to developing the business case to this stage. Although the timescales envisaged will have to be revised, from our experience with other college capital projects, we have found that additional time spent in the planning and development phases is never wasted and leads to a more robust and better-managed project.”

Speaking on West FM Radio, Scottish Funding Council interim chief executive Lawrence Howells said the delay was “not a big problem” and that projects of this nature would normally take about two years in the planning stages.

Mr Howells said: “The first step is to get an agreed outline business case between us and the college. Once that’s agreed, there are various steps before you actually start building anything. The normal timescale for this scale of project is a minimum of a couple of years to get from where we are now to the stage where we’re actually ready to go on with the project.”

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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Sailing holiday off west coast of Scotland for Ayrshire schoolchildren

FIVE P7 students from South Ayrshire Council’s Muirhead Primary School have just returned from a five-day sailing adventure along the Clyde and up the remote and challenging west coast of Scotland.

Sailing on a Gibsea 43 called ‘Deya’ crewed by the Clyde Sail Training Trust, the students left from Rhu Marina for the first leg of their journey. Due to a lack of wind the yacht had to motor from Rhu, passing the ‘tail of the Bank’ through the Kyles of Bute and across Loch Fyne to Tarbert for the first overnight stay. This gave the students an opportunity to learn more about safety procedures onboard, to helm the Deya and to write up the hourly log for the boat. This was all done while enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Firth of Clyde from their boat.

[Pictured: Morgan Brown at the helm.]

The next part of their journey was from Tarbert to Ardrishaig and into the Crinan Canal, where the Muirhead pupils and staff member were trained to operate the canal’s lock system. An overnight stay near the middle of the canal at Cairn Baan gave the pupils further experience of lock operations.

[Rebecca Fanning takes the wheel.]

From Crinan the students sailed into the Sound of Jura, up the rugged west coast of Argyle, passing the Gulf of Corryvreckan and into the Firth of Lorne. The young sailors saw the spectacular mountains of Jura and the Isle of Mull, with Duart Castle sitting prominently guarding the approaches to the Sound of Mull. The final port of call on the five-day journey of discovery was Dunstaffnage Marina by Oban.

[Pictured: Abigail Mair sketches the scenery.]

Speaking about the sailing adventure Councillor Hywel Davies, the Council’s Portfolio Carrier for Learning and Prosperity said: “The onboard educational experience with the Clyde Sail Training Trust provides an opportunity for students to develop their confidence, self-esteem and teamwork skills. The skills that they learned during their journey will be of use to them when they transfer to their secondary schools at the beginning of the new academic year and as they progress through life.

“This exciting project has been made possible through team work and support from many people including Clyde Sail Training Trust, Troon Round Table and the Dodds Trust. I would like to thank them on behalf of the Council for their involvement in the project.”

During the week the pupils also completed the John Muir Award at Discovery Level, a National Environmental Award Scheme focusing on wild places. The Award encourages the discovery and conservation of wild places, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

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South Ayrshire Council Trading Standards Strike Gold

SOUTH AYRSHIRE COUNCIL’S Trading Standards and Environmental Health Services have received a Gold Award from the International Federation of Spirit Producers (IFSP) in recognition of the work carried out to ensure unscrupulous bar staff or owners don’t dupe the public with substituted spirits. Members of the IFSP UK include major producers such as Diageo, Bacardi-Martini, Edrington, Pernod Ricard and Jim Beam Global.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Council senior trading standards officer Hamid Gazem (left) accepting the award from Fraser Morrison of the Edrington Group.]

The Gold Award was presented to South Ayrshire Trading Standards and Environmental Health Services at the annual Trading Standards Conference in Bournemouth, where 5 Gold certificates, 11 Silver and 10 Bronze were awarded to local authorities throughout the UK along with training vouchers. South Ayrshire Council was the only authority in Scotland to be awarded Gold.

The award was in recognition of their efforts in ensuring that spirits on sale are genuine. Spirit substitution is the refilling of premium branded spirit bottles with cheaper alternatives for resale in on-licensed premises, pubs, restaurants, hotels, clubs etc.

The alternative spirits used can vary; they can be cheaper own-label spirits purchased from a supermarket or cash and carry, bootlegged brands or illicit spirits. Spirits substitution is not a new phenomenon as the first recorded incidence of substituting spirits dates back to 1872 when 30 pubs in Glasgow were surveyed, it was found that only two of them were serving genuine Scotch whisky!

In the last year one complaint dealt with by Trading Standards Officers involved the sale of counterfeit vodka from off-licenses. This led to 3 seizures of fake vodka from separate premises in South Ayrshire. This has resulted in two formal warnings being issued and two reports to the Procurator Fiscal. In addition by circulating these findings further seizures of the offending product were made by Trading Standards Officers in North and East Ayrshire.

South Ayrshire has also adopted new methods in detecting substituted sprits. The new method involves the use of the IFSP brand authenticator device, which simplifies the detection of substitution on the premises and reduces the need for submitting samples to the public analyst.

IFSP UK director Philip Scatchard said: “South Ayrshire Council has done a tremendous job to ensure that customers are served what they ask and pay for. Serving an alternative spirit is illegal and, in a small number of cases, potentially dangerous. We are determined to ensure that licensees do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by ripping off their customers. We will continue to be extremely active to weed out the small but significant minority of licensees that persist in refilling bottles with cheaper alternatives.”

The awards were presented by Fraser Morrison of the Edrington Group, who said: “We put a lot of effort into producing the best quality products and it is imperative that the customers are served what they ask for and are not fobbed off with a cheap alternative.”

Councillor Peter Convery, responsible for Trading Standards issues, stated: “This is a welcome encouragement to our staff. This shows that South Ayrshire Council is committed to maintaining the reputation of the area as one of the best tourist areas in Scotland, where local residents, tourists and visitors alike can enjoy their visit to South Ayrshire with the confidence that the goods and services they pay for are legal and genuine.”

A spokesperson for Trading Standards added: “Apart from our sampling visits we rely on complaints from members of the public. Indeed the case reported to the Procurator Fiscal came to our attention as a result of information received.”

If anyone has any suspicions about drinks in this respect they should contact Trading Standards in confidence Monday to Friday on 01292 616403 or by visiting the Trading Standards Advice Centre at 5-7 River Terrace, Ayr or the website at

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