The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Ayr Racecourse gets New Year live television boost

AYR Racecourse has been handed a huge boost after Channel 4 announced it will broadcast two races live from the track on 2 January.

This means a minimum of four meetings from Ayr will be broadcast on Channel 4 racing in 2010 with the Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday in April, Scottish Sun Raceday in June and September's William Hill (Ayr) Gold Cup Festival also being featured.

Channel 4 will screen the 2.55pm and 3.30pm races on 2 January, when a crowd of around 4,000 is expected at the track.

Ayr Racecourse PR Iain Ferguson said: “This is great news. It’s the first time Channel 4 Racing has committed to screening races from our January meeting, and we are naturally delighted. We will be sharing billing with Sandown that day, and the fact we are live on television will give the meeting a boost.

“Coming on the back of one of the most successful ever William Hill (Ayr) Gold Cups this has given us a further lift.”

TWO meetings of the 2009 Flat Season at Ayr still remain - the Ghouls and Goblins Raceday on Friday 23 October and the John Smith’s No Nonsense Raceday on Saturday 31 October.

The opening race on 23 October is the EBF Maiden Stakes over a mile at 2.10pm for two-year-olds, and another interesting contest is the Karen Kennedy And Friends Celebration Handicap over one mile two furlongs at 3.55pm.

The last of the seven races is due off at 5.30pm, and there’s superb live music after racing with Coast playing their own interpretations of well known songs for three hours.

The flat finale for 2009 is the John Smith’s No Nonsense Raceday on 31 October with the first of seven races at 12.45pm.

The feature race of the afternoon is the John Smith’s Handicap over a mile at 1.55pm with £15,000 in the prize fund, and the final race is due off at 4.10pm.

But the fun doesn’t end there - top local covers band Sistrum appear in the Horseshoe Bar for three hours after racing. Gates open at 11.00am and the fun goes on until after 7.00pm.

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Thursday, 8 October 2009

Leading economists urge fiscal autonomy for Scotland

Leading economists Professors Ronald MacDonald and Paul Hallwood are calling for an end to the Barnett Formula and a move to Scottish fiscal autonomy.

In their new book, The Political Economy of Financing the Scottish Government: Considering a New Constitutional Settlement for Scotland, they consider a number of alternatives to the current system, including the Calman proposal, and find all systems short of fiscal autonomy lacking.

Professor Ronald MacDonald, Adam Smith Professor at Glasgow University (pictured above) said: “The current fiscal settlement for Scotland is no longer politically tenable, nor is it economically defensible. We consider a number of alternatives to the Barnett formula, and our analysis shows that proposals like those from the Calman Commission are merely tinkering with the current system and will fail.

“What we strongly support is a quite different approach, one that would be seen as legitimate in the eyes of a significant fraction of the Scottish electorate. In such a system decision-makers, meaning the Scottish voters, their representatives - the Members of the Scottish Parliament, as well as the Scottish Government - take financial responsibility for their spending decisions. This financial responsibility can only be achieved by devolving responsibility over taxes to Scotland: what we call ‘tax devolution’.”

Professor Paul Hallwood, Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut, said: “Since the 1970s, Scotland has had a credible threat to leave the ‘command and control’ system currently operating in the UK. Tax devolution has the great advantage of making those at Holyrood who spend taxes also bear the political cost of raising those taxes. This basic idea of fiscal accountability goes back to the works of Adam Smith himself. Whether looked at from the English or Scottish perspective, tax devolution is the logical answer to ongoing debates about budgets and bloc grants.

“There is a ‘democracy argument’ that applies in both Scotland and the rest of the UK, and we think that the Scottish electorate is intelligent enough to know and to vote its preferences. We come down firmly in favour of fiscal autonomy in which essentially most, if not all, revenues raised in Scotland – including North Sea oil revenues – are returned to Scotland.”

The authors conclude that irrespective of political questions about the constitution, fiscal autonomy, which can be designed for Scotland within the UK political union or for an independent Scotland, offers a much sharper and clearer incentive mechanism – for both the private sector and the elected representatives in Edinburgh – than either the status quo or lesser forms of fiscal federalism.

Paul Hallwood is Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut where his research interests include the fields of economic integration – from both historical and policy orientated perspectives, the economics of business organisation, and ocean policy. He acted for several years as a consultant to a major oil exporting country and previously worked at the University of Aberdeen. He and MacDonald are joint authors of a leading advanced textbook on international finance.

Ronald MacDonald is the Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy University of Glasgow. He has published widely in the areas of Macroeconomics and International Finance. He has been a consultant to a number of central banks, financial institutions and the International Monetary Fund and has advised governments on macroeconomic policy. Since the creation of the Research papers in Economics (REPEC) world ranking of Economists, he has consistently appeared in the top five per cent of this poll, one of only three economists based in Scotland to achieve this ranking.

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Ayr gets behind the Great Tartan Turnoot!

Ayr United and West FM stars encourage people to
Come Back to Ayrshire for the St. Andrews Homecoming Finale

Ayr licensed traders are pulling together to kickstart the St. Andrews Homecoming Finale weekend with a special evening event on Friday 27 November 2009 entitled ‘The Great Tartan Turnoot’.

Four guid Scottish pubs, Wellingtons Bar, Bridges Bar, The Tam O’ Shanter Inn and The Twa Dugs aim to do their bit to support Ayr’s Homecoming Finale by hosting ‘The Great Tartan Turnoot’ a fun event where visitors and locals alike will be encouraged to don their kilts and enjoy an entertaining tour led by kilted musical warriors Clan Wallace whilst collecting a range of St. Andrews memorabilia on their way.

The tour will make their way past an illuminated Town Hall, Wallace Tower and conclude in a specially lit up Burns Statue Square where 250 biodegradable balloons will be released to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Burns before enjoying a live ceilidh band and haggis buffet (free to all those wearing a kilt!)

Keen to get started modelling the St. Andrews merchandise are Ayr United manager Brian Reid, players Dean Keenan, Ryan Stevenson, Mark Roberts and Billy Gibson, Westsound Presenters Fiona Shields, Jen McGinlay, John Scott and James Pllu and representatives from the four bars Bob Shields (Twa Dugs), Gordon Wardrop (Bridges Bar) and Mick O’Brien (Wellingtons Bar).

The Great Tartan Turnoot is just one part of Ayrshire’s celebrations for the St. Andrews Homecoming Finale which will take place from Friday 27 – Monday 30 November and will also include:

* ‘Wave the Saltire Weekend’ decorated streets and retail outlets supporting the St. Andrews finale in Ayr, Prestwick and Girvan.

* A nostalgia weekend in Troon celebrating the 1940s and 50s with music, dance, history and entertainment.

* ‘Scotch Corner’ at Ayr Central shopping centre featuring the unique Ayrshire Innovations on street exhibition, free haggis and entertainment.

* A special Scottish Christmas Light Switch-on making a popular return to Ayr High Street on Sunday 29 November with a River Street fairground.

* An exclusive sneak preview of Burns Cottage on St. Andrews Day, Monday 30 November.

* A special Haggis and Hoolie evening at Ayr Racecourse, Folk music at West of the Moon, Ayr and at The McKechnie Institute, Girvan plus lots of other events and attractions throughout the weekend. Full details of the weekend can be found on

St. Andrews events will take place throughout Scotland as part of Scotland’s Year of Homecoming Finale.

Jakki Ross (South Ayrshire Council Homecoming Tourism and Marketing) said: “The Great Tartan Turnoot is an excellent example of local business working together to create a fun and memorable event. As Ayrshire is home of Robert Burns we began the year in celebratory style in Alloway and it is only fitting that our St. Andrews Homecoming Finale encourages people to come back to Ayrshire to conclude the Homecoming year in Rabbie’s town.”

Marie Christie, Project Director, Homecoming Scotland 2009 adds: “All over Scotland individuals and organisations are working hard to make sure that this Homecoming year presents the most diverse and exciting programme of events ever co-ordinated to mark St. Andrews Day. Throughout the year Ayrshire has hosted a fantastic Homecoming programme and we are looking forward to this exciting line-up of events for the finale.”

The Ayrshire St. Andrews Homecoming Finale is part of the Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations: Scotland’s Biggest Ever St Andrew’s Do. Running from 26th - 30th November, with more than 40 events and opportunities to visit some of Scotland’s major attractions for free across Scotland, a full programme of activity is available at

St Andrew’s Day, 30 November, is Scotland’s national day. It is a time for everyone at home and friends across the globe to celebrate Scotland and its people - our history and culture but also our diverse and vibrant contemporary society. Full information on St Andrew’s Day, including its history, local and international events, Visit for Free visitor attractions across Scotland, and ideas for hosting your own event, can be found on

The Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations herald the start of the winter festival season in Scotland, inviting visitors to extend their stay beyond the St Andrew’s weekend to sample the sights and sounds in a range of towns and cities.

Homecoming Scotland 2009 is an inspirational programme of events running from Burns Night to St Andrew’s Day which motivates people with Scottish ancestry, as well as those who simply love Scotland, to “Come Home” in 2009.

Homecoming Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and is managed by EventScotland the national events agency in partnership with VisitScotland, the country’s national tourism agency. Homecoming is part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund.

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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Scottish Enterprise appoints Lena Wilson as new chief executive

Lena Wilson has been appointed chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, it was announced this week.

Ms Wilson (pictured below), who is currently chief operating officer of Scottish Enterprise and chief executive of Scottish Development International, will take up the post on 4 November.

Scottish Enterprise chairman Crawford Gillies said: “This is an excellent appointment – both for the organisation and for the Scottish economy.

“When we embarked on our search for the new chief executive, we wanted to cast the net as wide as possible to ensure we found the right person for the job. Lena shone through in the interview process, and has been appointed against an exceptionally strong field of internal and external candidates.”

He added: “Lena’s experience of the organisation and her proven track record in delivering fantastic results will ensure Scottish Enterprise continues to make a real difference to the companies we work with, and help grow Scotland’s economy as we prepare to move out of the current recession.

“As chief operating officer, Lena played a key role in helping to transform the organisation in recent years, and has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and a motivation to get the job done. I am looking forward to continuing to work with her as we move forward into the next stage of our development.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Lena has vast experience of what it takes to help support and grow Scottish businesses and of selling Scotland around the world. She has an excellent track record in delivering results. I know she will make an outstanding chief executive of Scottish Enterprise as the organisation continues to play a key role in carrying through our economic strategy and ensuring we emerge from recession stronger than ever.”

In her new role, Ms Wilson will be responsible for the organisation’s 1,100 staff and £250 million budget, which is focused on supporting Scotland’s most ambitious companies and helping to create a positive business environment for those companies to thrive.

Talking about her appointment, Lena Wilson said: “Scotland has such an abundance of strengths in areas as diverse as financial services, life sciences, food and drink and energy. One of my priorities will be to identify new ways to unlock that potential so we can deliver more for Scotland’s economy and contribute to the delivery of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy.

“I also know that trading conditions are likely to be tough for many months to come, and Scottish Enterprise has a vital role to play in supporting companies to respond to the challenges they are facing. I am looking forward to continuing to work with colleagues across the organisation, and with our partners to ensure companies can access the right type of support to strengthen and grow their business.”

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s main enterprise, innovation and investment agency, and is focused on supporting business growth and developing a competitive business environment. Working in partnership with industry, academia and the public sector, SE aims to play its part in delivering the Scottish Government’s new economic strategy to increase productivity in Scotland by helping businesses grow, encouraging greater innovation and creating the right conditions for companies to access property, markets and finance. Further information can be found at

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