The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Scottish Government fosters economic links with North America

Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is to travel to Canada and the USA to strengthen business, economic and cultural links, and further promote a dynamic and creative Scotland as a great place to visit and invest.

As well as showcasing all that is great about Scotland during St Andrew’s Day celebrations in Toronto, Ottawa and Washington DC, the Culture and External Affairs Secretary will hold talks with Government Ministers and politicians in Canada and the US. Ms Hyslop will also undertake a series of business, travel trade and cultural engagements.

Ms Hyslop said: “Scotland’s bonds of kinship and friendship with Canada and the USA are deep and strong, and both countries are vitally important to our economy. The USA is our single largest overseas market and Canada is a major tourism market for Scotland.

“There is huge enthusiasm for Scotland all over North America. In a challenging economic environment, we must capitalise on that interest and continue to nurture longer-term relationships and foster real prosperity for our country. St Andrew’s Day is the ideal platform to raise Scotland’s profile internationally as a dynamic and creative nation, not just in cultural but also economic terms.

“Working with Scottish Development International and VisitScotland, I will undertake a series of business, travel trade and cultural engagements aimed at strengthening Scotland’s economic growth and building future prosperity.

“In September, the First Minister and I welcomed the new Canadian High Commissioner Gordon Campbell to Scotland. We committed to working together to promote our common strengths - world-class education systems, internationally-recognised research communities, highly skilled workforces, and thriving creative industries - and I look forward to discussing that further during my visit to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa and meetings with Federal and Provincial Ministers.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop will visit Toronto, Ottawa and Washington DC from 28 November to 3 December 2011.

The Scottish Government’s Canada and USA Plans make it clear that these are priority countries for engagement. The Plans build on the strength of the existing relationship between Scotland and both countries, aim to further strengthen the important historical, cultural and economic links between our countries, to ensure that Scotland maximises the economic opportunities that both markets have to offer for the future.

The promotion of Scotland in the USA and Canada is supported by a multi-agency approach - ‘Team Scotland’ that includes representatives from the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland.

Scotland’s Winter Festivals begin with St Andrew’s Day on 30 November and includes Scotland’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations, culminating with Burns night on 25 January. Events and celebrations will begin on the weekend leading to St Andrew’s Day (26 and 27 November) and run through Christmas and Hogmanay until Burns Night, and will bring together lovers of all things Scottish from across the globe.

South Ayrshire Council launches one-stop service for the bereaved

South Ayrshire Council has officially launched a brand new service to help ease the burden of having to deal with official paperwork and telephone calls after the loss of a loved one.

[Pictured: Pictured at Ayr Registration Office are (left to right standing) Councillor Philip Saxton, Councillor Ian Douglas, Councillor Douglas Campbell, Portfolio Holder for Customer Services, Councillor Bill Grant, Councillor Hugh Hunter, (left to right seated) South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan, Councillor Nan McFarlane and Valerie Andrews, Head of Legal and Administration for South Ayrshire Council.]

The service, Tell Us Once, is now offered to anyone registering a death at Ayr Registration Office and means the Council can notify participating organisations of the death on a customer’s behalf.

Through Tell Us Once, information is passed securely and in confidence to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the first instance, which can then be passed on to other government departments and Council services.

The information is then used to update records, amend service provision accordingly and calculate any changes to finances such as benefits and tax. Services and organisations involved include:

* Council – Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Council Tax, Council Payments, Libraries, Electoral Service, Blue Badges, Adult Services, Children’s Services, Housing

* DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency)

* DWP – Pension, Disability & Carers Service, Jobcentre Plus, Overseas Health Team

* HM Revenue and Customs – Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit & Working Tax Credit, Personal Taxation

* Ministry of Defence – War Pensions Scheme

* Identity and Passport Service.

Councillor Douglas Campbell, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer Services, said: “This is all about providing the best possible service for our customers at a very difficult time, and I’m sure that will be appreciated.

“The average bereaved family has to contact multiple government services when someone dies and, while it’s essential the information is provided, Tell Us Once makes this a far easier process.

“I am pleased we now offer this service at Ayr Registration Office, and I hope it makes a difficult time just that little bit easier.”

Tell Us Once is available at Ayr Registration Office, High Street, Ayr and is expected to be rolled out to Girvan Registration Office in the new year.

Those using the service will need information about the person who has died including date of birth and National Insurance number, details of benefits/services received, death certificate, driving licence (or number) and passport (or passport number and details of place of birth).

For further information, visit or call 01292 617617.

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

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

South Ayrshire Council completes new eco-friendly public housing development

Forty-two delighted tenants have moved in to new homes at Thornyflat – completing the development ahead of schedule and on cost and the first built by South Ayrshire Council in a generation.

The new £4.5million development, funded by the Council in partnership with the Scottish Government, consists of 42 new homes, a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom properties.

[Celebrations all round as Lynne Docherty is presented with the keys to her new home. Pictured are (left to right back row) Councillor Douglas Campbell, Portfolio Holder for House, Councillor Nan McFarlane, Portfolio Holder for Social Services, Lynne Docherty, Laura McQuiston, Housing Officer and local Councillor John Hampton along with two of Lynne’s children Logan and Tyler.]

Councillor Douglas Campbell, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First said: “This development was built after listening to local people to find out the kind of homes they wanted to live in. We considered all comments, and I believe that we have met those aspirations, and we already know that people are pleased with the layouts which meet a whole range of needs.”

“Built using modern building techniques, the homes are environmentally friendly and have achieved an excellent eco rating, which means lower fuel bills. South Ayrshire is the only Council so far to meet this standard and we can proudly say they are the best Council houses in Scotland.”

To mark the occasion Lynne Docherty, one of the first tenants to move in was presented with a bouquet of flowers. Lynne said: “We absolutely love our new home. The space, in particular storage space, is excellent throughout the house. Having an ‘office space’ upstairs gives us somewhere to store the kids toys without them falling over them when they climb out of bed in the morning. Our neighbours are also really friendly, and I can't believe how lucky we have been to receive one of these homes.”

After meeting Lynne and others at the Thornyflat development Councillor Nan McFarlane, Portfolio Holder for Social Services said: “This development provides high quality affordable homes for people.

“The homes have been designed to meet the needs of a wide range of people including those who need low level access to enter their home, or wider doors to accommodate a wheelchair or walking frame.

“I am really pleased that we were able to build new houses in South Ayrshire which meet the modern needs of our tenants. I am confident that people will enjoy living here, because they are not just houses, they truly are homes.”

The construction of the new development provided valuable training and employment for Nathan Brown an apprentice bricklayer and Steven McCallum an apprentice joiner.

[Apprentices Nathan Brown and Steven McCallum are pictured at the new Thornyflat development.]

Through Access Construction the apprentices are gaining employment with linked training in the building industry. The programme encourages unemployed people to seek employment with a contractor as an apprentice, trainee labourer or trainee administrator. It targets those who would not otherwise consider applying for a construction job with a training commitment.

Originally focused on its own building contracts, Ayrshire Housing has extended the model across Ayrshire through a consortium of four housing associations. The development and day to day management of the project is handled by the Ayr-based Aspire2gether. This independent social enterprise is also a leading provider of housing support and related services across Ayrshire.

On completion of the work at Thornyflat both apprentices will move on to other construction contracts with their employer CCG.

Access Construction has helped more than 30 individuals to gain employment with linked training in the building industry. An independent evaluation has demonstrated its value both to the individual trainees and to the building contractors themselves. Through the programme, unemployed people are encouraged to seek employment with a contractor as an apprentice, trainee labourer or trainee administrator. Originally focused on its own building contracts, Ayrshire Housing has extended the model across Ayrshire by through a consortium of four housing associations. The development and day to day management of the project is handled by the Ayr-based Aspire2gether. This independent social enterprise is also a leading provider of housing support and related services across Ayrshire.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Strengthening business and education links between Scotland and India

Education Secretary Michael Russell has said that Scotland and India will continue to develop their education and business links and make both countries stronger.

Speaking at the influential Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) higher education summit in Delhi, Mr Russell highlighted the benefits and opportunities presented when Scotland and India work together.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “Scotland and India have historical and enduring bonds, reaching back many years. We also share links that have been forged more recently and our relationship continues to go from strength to strength.

“At the moment there are no fewer than 20 Scottish universities working with partners in India and this week I have opened a new Scottish university campus and witnessed the signing of three new co-operation agreements.

“Of course, the Indian economy is one of the fastest growing in the world and they are experiencing heavy demand in sectors where Scotland has key expertise such as energy, education and banking.

“That's why I have been encouraging Indian business leaders and academics to continue to look towards Scotland. With the Scottish Government investing in research to the tune of £250 million and continuing the SMART:Scotland fund to promote business innovation and knowledge exchange activities, we are in strong place to support international partnerships.

“Scotland is open and willing to build on our existing partnerships with Indian universities and companies and I hope we can progress what has been started, maximise the potential and realise a host of infinite possibilities ahead.”

Mr Russell was speaking at the Higher Education summit of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. This is SDI’s third annual mission to the Summit, which is India’s premier Education sector event. The primary objective of the Mission is to position Scottish higher education institutions as partners of choice for Indian academia and businesses. It is also the largest and most senior delegation from the university sector to visit India.

Mr Russell was in India as part of a wide-ranging seven day programme in India which included engagements in universities and schools, speaking at a conference for influential business leaders and meetings with key Indian companies and academics.

Ayr Renaissance trainees make a difference to Ayr Town Centre

Fresh from the sparkling difference ‘Let Ayr Shine’ made to Ayr town centre during August, the town is all set to benefit again, thanks to four trainees appointed by Ayr Renaissance.

Tasked with regenerating and rejuvenating Ayr Town Centre, the regeneration company, with support from South Ayrshire Council, was successful in sourcing funding for four trainee Environmental Regeneration Operatives for a six month period.

[Pictured: The trainees are already hard at work repainting shabby entrances, removing graffiti and fly posters, litter picking and working to prevent the nuisance of dog fouling.]

James Thomson, Craig Stewart, Stephen McLaughlin and Robert Swann began work a few weeks ago after completing a rigorous induction programme and they’re already making a difference.

Robert has been working with the Council’s litter and dog warden patrol and said: “It’s great to have the chance of work for six months and I’m really pleased to be making a difference to two things that matter most for local people – litter and dog fouling. I intend to make the most of the opportunity and look forward to completing my training and placement.”

James, Craig and Stephen will be based in and around the town centre and their duties will include street cleaning, litter picking, gardening, decorating, the removal of fly posting and graffiti.

The trainees will also received take courses in basic construction skills, such as lime sand pointing and footpath repairs.

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council and Ayr Renaissance Board member said: “The Let Ayr Shine pilot civic pride campaign, which ran from 8-22 August, put some extra sparkle back in to Ayr town centre thanks to the hard work of South Ayrshire Council and Ayr Renaissance, with excellent support from local residents and businesses.

“I’m delighted to welcome the trainees to the town centre and know they will do a fantastic job building on the good work undertaken during Let Ayr Shine.

The Ayr Renaissance Strategy – delivered through the Ayr Renaissance Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – is designed to rejuvenate Ayr town centre over the next 20 years, with a focus on improving the arrival ‘hubs’ of the town, improving connections within the town and developing quality residential, retail and commercial accommodation.

To help achieve this, the LLP received £2.258 million for the regeneration of Ayr town centre in the first tranche of Town Centre Regeneration Funding – the largest amount awarded to a single town centre project – and this included £500,000 towards the refurbishment of the Gaiety Theatre.

In the first phase of the Ayr Renaissance project, has seen a facelift for properties in Ayr’s Sandgate, High Street and Newmarket Street, delivering visible improvements to this part of town. This transformation is making a real difference and will continue as the project moves forward.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Scottish companies encouraged to target Brazil

Scottish Enterprise (SE) is urging companies to explore potential partnerships and business opportunities with Brazil - one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

During a fact-finding mission this week, Lena Wilson (pictured above), chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, will meet with Brazilian government officials, trade and industry leaders and representatives from the Brazilian Development Bank to discuss how to further strengthen trade relationships between the two countries.

The visit will enable SE to help equip Scottish companies with the right tools and expertise to trade more effectively with Brazil. As well as exploring key possibilities within the biofuels industry, the visit aims to gain a better understanding of the political, cultural and economic issues in the country and explore how SE can support Brazilian companies in Scotland.

Lena Wilson said: “As the fifth-largest country in the world with a population of around 185 million people, Brazil is one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies and with a GDP per head greater than either India or China, it offers huge opportunities for Scottish businesses.

“This fact-finding visit will allow us to experience first-hand the size and scale of the potential market prospects for Scotland in Brazil – both in relation to export opportunities for Scottish companies and investment possibilities for Brazilian companies looking to do business in Scotland.

“We know that trading overseas is a key way for companies to realise their ambitious growth plans and in doing so, generate long term sustainable economic growth and recovery for Scotland. This visit is all about establishing strong relationships with Brazil and creating the right paths for Scottish companies to successfully trade here.

“By tapping into lucrative new markets we can ensure our message is clear – Scotland is very much open for business and is ready to compete on an international level.”

Along with the United States, Brazil is the world’s leading ethanol producer and largest exporter of ethanol fuel. Brazil is also making significant progress in next generation biofuel technology such as the hydro processing of natural oils in refineries and the conversion of waste substances into ethanol.

SE and its international arm Scottish Development International, sponsored and worked with the British Embassy to organise a mission to Brazil for Edinburgh Napier University in 2009 to study the country’s success in biofuels and hosted a Brazilian delegation to Scotland a month later to further build relationships.

Other areas that offer the most possibilities for Scottish companies in Brazil include the oil and gas sector, automotive components, electronics, machinery, food and drink and chemicals. In 2009, 41 million bottles of whisky were shipped to Brazil.

Ayr Racecourse presents jockey, owner and trainer of the year awards

By: Iain Ferguson

JOCKEY Paul Hanagan was crowned The Isle of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Ayr Flat Jockey Champion of 2011 at Ayr Racecourse recently.

The champion jockey celebrated by riding a double – bringing his total for the season at Scotland’s premier track to 14 from 61 mounts.

Pictured above: Ayr Clerk of the Course Emma Marley presented Paul with a limited edition Isle of Skye 21 year old bottle of whisky in a royal blue and gold Wade porcelain decanter and Paul commented: “I always enjoy coming to Ayr as its one of my favourite tracks, and I’m delighted to win this title again and this lovely prize.”

The Isle of Skye Owners title for the 2011 flat season at Ayr was won by Ken McGarrity, an owner with Linda Perratt, who also received a bottle of Isle of Skye 21 Year Old from Emma Marley (pictured above).

Ken said: “I have had runners at Ayr for many years, and I am over the moon to be top owner for 2011.”

Richard Fahey won the Trainers title but was unable to attend the meeting.

Enquiries: Telephone: Iain Ferguson on 07795-565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.