Monday, 10 December 2012
It seems hard to believe that Christmas has come around again and it really does seem that time has flown by this year!
As we enter the festive season, it’s worth remembering that this is a time to be with people you care about – a time for goodwill, sharing and listening to each other as we review the successes, consider the difficult times and look ahead to the future.
From a Council perspective, just as children will be listening keenly for sleigh bells in the snow, we’ve been listening closely to you and we will continue to do so.
This can be as simple as asking for your views on dog fouling or the nuisance caused by seagulls.
Or it can be more complex and far reaching such as considering your opinions on the strategic priorities for South Ayrshire and how best we can plan ahead to safeguard (and create) new jobs and business opportunities and deliver long term growth and prosperity locally.
During 2012, we’ve taken on board your views on topics from planning to building repair, children’s services to economic development, regeneration to empty homes, as well as community safety, waste disposal, older people’s services, nursery school provision, taxi services, road maintenance and repair.
We’ve welcomed your thoughts and suggestions on how we can refine the way we deliver our services to you and this level of feedback, constructive comments and excellent suggestions have driven us during 2012 – and will continue to spur us on in 2013 and beyond.
Your input has helped South Ayrshire Council achieve great successes and that is a credit to how you have engaged with us, especially as we face some difficult and challenging decisions and times ahead.
I’m proud of the work we do together and, through your involvement we’ve really been making things happen.
Across the Council services, we’ve been working hard to deliver the quality of service you rightly expect from us.
On the ground, we’ve seen the completion of an £8 million housing development at Somerset Road and Thornyflats in Ayr. That’s a significant investment in the local area, delivering much needed, high-quality homes to residents.
Our pupils and teachers have done us proud too, with exam results the best on record – and we’ve even had one of our Head Teachers, Lorraine Stobie, scoop a national lifetime achievement award.
But the good news did not stop there in 2012!
We’ve also been making good headway in the Carrick area, with ambitious plans to transform and regenerate the local area in and around Girvan, including the harbour area – and we’re still working hard to deliver a new leisure and sporting facility for the town.
And, speaking of community involvement, who could forget the amazing spectacle of the iconic Olympic Torch making its way through South Ayrshire – showcasing the very best of our towns and villages to a truly global audience?
Even as I write, the Gaiety Theatre will soon be entertaining audiences, young and old alike, with the pantomime Cinderella – a great example of how working together with the community can help deliver results that benefit everyone.
Behind the scenes, we’ve worked hard to streamline and improve our business model, giving the Council a firm financial footing and a robust structure of management, helping us to deliver services efficiently and effectively.
Financially, commercially, operationally, we’re stronger and fitter than ever before – but we also know much more has still to be done.
As your Council, we’ve come a long way to being the most improved local authority in Scotland - but we want to go further and really raise our ambitions on how we deliver for the whole of South Ayrshire, for every resident.
Just as we have come a long way together and achieved so much in 2012, I’d like to ask that this Christmas, we all spare a thought for those members of our society who may need a bit of extra support, a helping hand, or a shoulder to lean on.
For some, there will be loved ones who are no longer with us and, for others Christmas can be a time of loneliness.
By looking out for one another and by actively working together, I have no doubt we can enter 2013 more determined, prepared and ready to face the journey that lies ahead.
I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very happy New Year.
This is my first Christmas message to you as Provost.
Upon becoming Civic Head of the Council I was reminded by a close relative of mine of an old saying, “To him (or her) whom much is given, much is expected”.
Not a bad yardstick for me to keep mindful of!
If it’s a wonderful world, then South Ayrshire is a wonderful place, and I have had a truly eventful first six months in office, with diverse and varied activities ranging from welcoming the Olympic torch to welcoming our newest citizens.
From paying tribute to outstanding people, welcoming foreign guests and dignitaries, supporting and promoting history and heritage, outstanding scenery, the economy, golf, amazing countryside and wildlife, acknowledging special anniversaries, watching young people and graduates take their first steps into adult life, to chairing full Council, and from Armed Forces Day to Remembrance Day our brave veterans and service personnel have never been far from my thoughts.
But now it’s time for Christmas.
Predating Christianity, the winter solstice was, for millions of people an important time for beating the winter blues with celebrations, ceremonies and festivities, and at least one thing in common with Christmas as we know it today, the short grey days and long dark nights, and a longing for the better things to come.
So what better time to have a magical festival, and hopefully some snow for snowmen and sledging, Santa, feasting and presents, family and friends and for giving and getting.
Mr Scrooge, of course in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ learned the lesson that giving is better than getting and, in our communities, there is much that is given, from the carers young and old who care every day for others, the folk who volunteer their time on Christmas Day to help those in need, the emergency service workers, the Armed Forces Personnel, to simply buying gifts that are fairly traded or support a Charity, to just keeping an eye out for an elderly neighbour.
Christmas is also a time for reflection, for some on Christmas past, or of happier times, for others it is about Christmas present, enjoying the moment, and for others thinking about the future (and perhaps some New Year resolutions!).
On Christmas 2012 here is my message to you – as we struggle through dark days, remember this, it is darkest before dawn. Hope lives in all of us but let us not just hope for a better year ahead, or a better future, let us resolve to work for it.
A very peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
Buyer interest grew across Scotland last month, says the latest RICS housing market survey.
Enquiries from would-be buyers saw a rise in most parts of Scotland last month (net balance +22 percent). Although demand is still at a historically low level, it would appear that those who are in a position to do so are gradually looking to test the market. Meanwhile, the amount of homes coming up for sale also increased during November (net balance +32 percent).
Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland
Modest drops were visible in relation to house prices, albeit at a slower pace than was seen earlier in the year. A net balance of 16 percent more Scottish chartered surveyors reported falling prices during November. While slightly up in October’s reading, this still suggests that the market is now beginning to stabilise.
Looking ahead, Scottish chartered surveyors are optimistic that activity levels should continue their gentle rise with 20 percent more respondents expecting sales to increase rather than decrease over the coming three months. The price picture is, however, likely remain rather flatter in contrast.
Across the UK, London was once again the only part of the country to see prices increase, with surveyors in the capital reporting a net balance of +40 percent. Northern Ireland and Wales experienced the most significant drops with respondents in those areas reporting net balances of -49 and -36 percent respectively.
Craig Henderson, Graham & Sibbald, Glasgow, Glasgow and West Scotland, commented: “We have seen the typical flurry of activity during the first few weeks of November, with sellers new to the market keen to get the property on the market and exposed to buyers before the traditional festive slowdown.
“During the last month, sales appear to have been achieved where sellers are prepared to be realistic with their price expectations. I expect the market will start the traditional slowdown which will continue into January, as we have seen over the last several years.
“I would however highlight to would-be sellers, that as most buyers wish to ensure there current property is sold before committing to a new purchase, that anyone currently on the market who finds a buyer will immediately become a buyer themselves, so will be looking for suitable purchase options.”
Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “There is certainly some optimism creeping back into the housing market in Scotland, and it is encouraging to see an increase in potential buyers across parts of the country where the market has particularly suffered in recent years.
“That said, there is still a long way to go and the long standing barriers to home ownership are still very much a problem for the likes of first time buyers. Additionally, the macro-economic picture continues to weigh heavy on the market and continues prevent any really significant boost in activity.”
RICS housing market survey is the longest running monthly survey of house prices in the UK, collecting data since January 1978. The survey is cited by the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee at its monthly interest rate setting meetings.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire is celebrating Hogmanay with a full programme of entertainment and a novel buffet consisting of its delicious Bangladeshi starters and curries as well as a Scottish carvery, the latter presented by Mafiz Ali’s new local chef, Barry Cornes.
The event will take place on New Year’s Eve in the beautiful function suite upstairs from 7pm until 1am, and will be fully licensed throughout. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Stephanie Zikmann (pictured above) and the “Wishbones”.
The “Wishbones” (pictured above and below) are a two-piece acoustic duo with Jennifer Leitch on guitar and vocals and Jodie Campbell on lead vocals. The girls pride themselves on tight harmonies and an eclectic range of songs to suit any audience. They will happily take requests before the Hogmanay event..
Prior booking for this Hogmanay event is strongly advised and tickets (£19.95) will be available at the restaurant.
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
Ayr Spice Indian Cuisine can be found in the fine old red sandstone Memorial church at the entrance to the picturesque village of Minishant, 5 miles south of Ayr on the A77. The church was erected by the thread magnate Sir Peter Coats of nearby Auchendrane, in loving memory of his wife Glorianna, who died in 1877.
Indian food can be simple or elaborate, humble or opulent, within a culinary tradition that is centuries old. The unique gift of Indian cuisine is its inspired use of exotic spices and the finest fresh ingredients. Proprietor Mafiz Ali and his team at Ayr Spice are determined to bring you the best of that tradition, and look forward to welcoming you.
Ayr Spice Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 12 noon until 10pm including Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year. Takeaway and home delivery are also available.
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
The Old Minishant Memorial Church
22 Ayr Road
Tel: 01292 441 413
Where Can We Go
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant is a member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.