Thursday, 13 August 2009
Scottish housing market starts to recover
Scottish house prices have continued to fall in the latest quarter, according to the Scottish House Price Monitor from Lloyds TSB Scotland, but there are indications that the market is beginning a turnaround.
[Lloyds TSB Scotland chief economist Professor Donald MacRae.]
In the three months to 31 July 2009, the quarterly price index for the average domestic property in Scotland fell by 1.4 per cent, substantially less than the 4.3 per cent fall in the previous quarter. Following seasonal and mix adjusting, the average Scottish house price fell from £154,727 to £152,561.
On an annual basis, Scottish house prices have now fallen by 6.2 per cent. The volume of house purchase transactions is down 38 per cent on the levels recorded for the same period last year. The number of transactions reached its lowest point in May 2009 but has since been on an increasing trend with the number of transactions in July 35 per cent higher than in May. Similarly, average house prices have increased in both June and July providing further signs of a slight recovery in the Scottish housing market.
While all parts of the country are now reporting an annual price fall, ranging from -0.5 per cent to -15.8 per cent, both Glasgow and Dundee have reported price rises in the latest quarter.
Lloyds TSB Scotland chief economist Professor Donald MacRae said: “There are positive signs that not only has the bottom been reached but that a recovery is beginning to take root. Consumer confidence has recovered with retail sales increasing at an annual rate of +6.6 per cent in June. The housing market reached its lowest point in May recording the lowest number of sales transactions and saw its lowest average price in March. The cost of borrowing has reduced for many mortgage holders while there is a small but perceptible increase in the level of mortgage availability particularly for first time buyers.
Professor MacRae continued: “The worst of the housing market downturn has been experienced by falling transactions and an easing of prices but no precipitous collapse. The Scottish housing market is on the turn.”
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Ayrshire plans a brand new look
Ayrshire Business Forum will be working alongside representatives and groups from industry on a branding exercise for Ayrshire & Arran.
This is an exciting opportunity to create a unique brand for the area, encapsulating its assets and promoting these to various audiences. This brand will be used to promote Ayrshire not only as a key tourism destination but as a fantastic place to work, live and do business.
The project is supported by the three local authorities, Scottish Enterprise, Visitscotland and Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, after being identified as an issue at the Chamber Open Space event last September and raised during a Tourism Conversation event with Jim Mather MSP, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism.
The intention is to create a toolkit that can be rolled out to businesses, groups and individuals thus creating a unified approach to marketing Ayrshire & Arran both nationally and internationally.
A series of consultations will take place over the coming months to allow input from as wide an audience as possible.
Carolyn Elder, Manager of Largs Yacht Haven and President of Ayrshire Chamber said, “Having identified the need for a brand it’s important that we get this right. We have taken positive steps to set the wheels in motion and are now looking for input from the business community. We look forward to putting Ayrshire and Arran on the road to being recognised as a key destination which it rightly deserves.”
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Kilmarnock travel expert Julie Muldoon tries out
latest cruise ship from Celebrity Cruises
Last weekend Ayrshire-based Travel Counsellor Julie Muldoon was one of the first people to get a look inside Celebrity Equinox, the latest cruise ship from renowned cruising company Celebrity Cruises.
Enjoying an exclusive VIP two night launch event, Julie (pictured above) was one of over 150 consultants from award winning company Travel Counsellors to be invited onboard the impressive ship for a sneak preview.
The 122,000-ton, 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox is the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' innovative Solstice class, and is designed to exude luxury and sophistication. In addition to the features that guests have come to know and love on Celebrity’s sister ship Solstice, including the Lawn Club, a dedicated area on the top deck of the ship that features real, growing grass, where passengers can play croquet or golf; and Cellar Masters, a global wine tour where passenger can discover new wines, receive recommendations and enrich their knowledge of the world of wine, the Equinox introduces extraordinary new entertainment and dining opportunities as well. There is a choice of ten exceptional dining venues and after dinner, guests can take in a concert, comedy show, or film at the exciting and versatile Celebrity Central.
Julie commented; “The Equinox is an absolutely fantastic ship and I feel very privileged to have been one of the first people to see it and try its facilities for myself. The whole experience was wonderful and I can’t wait to tell my customers all about this amazing ship which really has something for everyone including families, couples, people looking for peace and quiet or those who want to be entertained and inspired.”
The company prides itself on the knowledge and level of service offered by its agents. Travel Counsellors are encouraged to take advantage of relevant trips to really develop their understanding of a range of destinations and holiday choices and pass on their experience to their clients.
Equinox will sail its maiden voyage roundtrip from Southampton on July 31, 2009, cruising an eight-night Norwegian Fjords itinerary, calling in Stavanger, Flam, Geiranger and Oslo. The first cruise will be followed by a 10-night “Best of Europe” itinerary, calling in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Gibraltar en route to Rome. The ship will then sail a series of 13 and 14 night “Ancient Empires” cruises from Rome, featuring two new ports of call: Haifa and Ashdod, Israel. These voyages also include an overnight stay in Egypt's Alexandria.
To speak to Julie to find out more about Celebrity Equinox or for any other travel requirements telephone 0845 058 7221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Saltcoats and Ardrossan win £1.5 million
for town centre regeneration
By: Kirsty Innes
THE regeneration of Saltcoats and Ardrossan has taken a major step forward this week after funding of almost £1.5 million was secured from a Scottish Government fund.
The funds, £1.45 million in total, have been secured by a “delighted” Irvine Bay Regeneration Company from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund, and will go to refurbish key town centre buildings in the two towns.
The Government fund is making £60m available to projects across Scotland this year.
[Pictured: Irvine Bay chairman Baroness Margaret Ford with Kenneth Gibson MSP in front of the former Jack Miller Hotel in Ardrossan.]
The money makes it possible to develop the former Jack Miller Hotel and the Harbour Bar in Ardrossan as well as the former station building in Saltcoats.
The former Jack Miller Hotel building in Ardrossan will provide office accommodation for businesses in the area. Irvine Bay hopes to provide financial support, as part of a larger private investment, to refurbish the Harbour Bar and bring it back into use as a restaurant and bar to support the developments at the marina.
In Saltcoats, the former station building will be redeveloped to provide retail space or a restaurant and offices.
The new funding signals an important step forward in the regeneration of Ardrossan and Saltcoats town centres. Project teams have been set up, and development on all three projects will begin as soon as possible. The funding must be spent by March 2010.
Commenting on the successful funding application, Irvine Bay chairman Baroness Margaret Ford said: “I am delighted to have the support of the Scottish Government to refurbish the Jack Miller building. We promised two years ago that we would deal with this eyesore, and we can now crack on and do exactly that. Bringing this building back to life will make a tremendous difference to the look and feel of Princes Street. And, as a Saltcoats girl, I am as equally excited about the renovation of the old station building.”
Irvine Bay chief executive Patrick Wiggins added: “The additional grant funding from this new fund demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the regeneration of our town centres, and provides a very significant boost for the area. We are delighted to be able to move ahead with these projects so quickly. We will continue to press ahead with other developments in the town centres which will help to attract and grow business activity in the area. There is currently a shortage of good quality office accommodation around Irvine Bay, and we are actively seeking to deal with that issue.”
Irvine Bay Regeneration Company
Irvine Bay Regeneration Company seeks to develop and revitalise the five towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Kilwinning and Irvine in North Ayrshire through a £100 million, ten year programme to boost the local economy and make the area an attractive and prosperous place to live, work and to visit. Partners are North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government.
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Monday, 10 August 2009
Ayrshire local councils win gold medal at Ayr Flower Show
The three local councils in Ayrshire were awarded a Large Gold Medal at the 49th Ayr Flower Show for their ‘Evolution of Waste’ garden. This is the highest level of award given by the judging panel. They were also awarded the Provost Gibson T Macdonald Trophy for best municipal display.
[Pictured at the award winning display are (left to right): South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan, North Ayrshire Council Provost Robert Rae, John Walker, Chairman of Ayr Flower Show and East Ayrshire Provost Stephanie Young.]
The ‘Evolution of Waste’ garden was a collaboration between North, East and South Ayrshire Councils, and was developed in partnership with the Scottish Waste Awareness Group (SWAG).
The Ayrshire Councils have been working together on a joint sustainable waste management project since 2004. This good example of partnership working between local authorities will ensure that the Councils meet their future landfill diversion and recycling targets. The Councils are working together towards achieving a Zero Waste community within Ayrshire.
The garden created for Ayr Flower Show was specially designed to demonstrate that suitable material collected by the local authorities in Ayrshire is recycled to form new products, working toward a Zero Waste Scotland.
South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in creating the ‘Evolution of Waste’ garden that was awarded a prestigious Large Gold Medal and the Provost Gibson T Macdonald trophy.
“The ‘Evolution of Waste’ garden is educational It will help many people to understand that all the recyclable material collected is reused and recycled. This is important to ensure that businesses and residents continue to participate in waste segregation collections.
“The joint display garden and stand is another way of demonstrating the Councils’ commitment to working with others, and to encourage the public to reduce, reuse and recycle waste wherever possible. The Medal and Trophy the garden won are a real bonus to the recycling endeavour.”
Fiona Ross, an Environment Strategy Officer in South Ayrshire Council’s Sustainable Development section designed the display garden on behalf of the three Ayrshire Councils. Assisting with the construction of the garden gave the Neighbourhood Services team the opportunity to develop and demonstrate the talents of some of their gardeners who are working towards attaining an SVQ in Amenity Horticulture.
The ‘Evolution of Waste’ display had a number of waste receptacles in a jungle feel garden which showed a range of new products formed either in total from recycled materials or which had a high recycled content. The jungle equatorial concept was used to give the feeling of regeneration and rebirth. Nowhere on the planet do plants grow and re-grow as quickly as they do in the equatorial rainforests. This feature was mirrored in the garden in terms of demonstrating the reuse and recycle of waste materials into new products.
The variety of products in the garden demonstrates that products made from recycled material can be high end goods from cutlery, pots and pans in the kitchen to duvets and bedding in the bedroom or clothing and bags in the wardrobe.
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Sunday, 9 August 2009
Irvine Harbour redevelopment - further public consultation to be held
Award-winning property company Urban Splash, in partnership with Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, will be holding further public consultation about the redevelopment of Irvine Harbour.
The exhibition is being held at the Ship Inn, Harbour Street, Irvine, on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 August, 10.30am until 5.00pm each day. It will be attended by representatives from Urban Splash and Irvine Bay Regeneration Company. There will also be the opportunity for visitors to provide written feedback.
The consultation comes following a busy 12 months in which the two organisations have worked closely progressing and developing proposals for the harbour, which include the development of 350 homes, new public spaces, an improved quayside space, shops, offices and a hotel, inspired by the traditional influences of Scottish harbour towns.
Patrick Sheridan of Urban Splash said: “Since the spring, when we held a public exhibition we have been working hard to incorporate the feedback of local people and organisations into our plans. We have now reached a point where we can present this to the public in order to submit the application to the local authority towards the end of the summer.”
Irvine Bay Regeneration Company commercial director Omar Elmi concluded: “We would encourage people to attend, as we really do want as much feedback as possible to ensure that this scheme is a sustainable transformation for the area.”
For further details visit www.urbansplash.co.uk
Irvine Bay Regeneration Company
Irvine Bay Regeneration Company seeks to develop and revitalise the five towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Kilwinning and Irvine in North Ayrshire through a £100 million, ten-year programme to boost the local economy and make the area an attractive and prosperous place to live, work and to visit. Partners are North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government.
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