The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 28 March 2013

RSA funding helps Ayrshire firm safeguard jobs

£3.7m to leverage investment in unique facility

Scottish Enterprise (SE) is to provide regional selective assistance of £3.7m to help leverage a multi-million pound investment and safeguard high-value jobs at DSM in Dalry, Ayrshire – the only remaining producer of Vitamin C in the western world.
SE has been involved with the company for the past 20 years and during this time has provided a range of account management support to help improve efficiency and develop skills. The DSM plant at Dalry, by focusing on product differentiation and sustainability, has maintained its position to date; however as international competition intensifies, further investment is needed.
“This is the kind of company we’re here to support,” said Anne MacColl, chief executive of SE international arm Scottish Development International.
“We know their importance to the local economy and to the local people they employ, and we’ll continue supporting them as they seek to consolidate and build on their unique position in the global marketplace.”
A spokesperson for the company said “DSM Dalry is pleased to work alongside SE and the Scottish Government and welcome their support for our investment in more sustainable processes to further improve our efficiency and strengthen our competitive position."
Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) is the main national scheme of financial assistance to industry. It provides discretionary grants to investment projects that will create and safeguard employment in areas designated for regional aid under European Community law.
Payment of RSA is made in instalments, typically over several years as job and capital expenditure targets are met. Not all projects will proceed, and nor do all accepted offers result in full payment, as projects are sometimes scaled down or abandoned before payments are made. The figures quoted represent the maximum grant potentially payable if the project is satisfactorily completed, and not the amount actually paid to date. All job numbers are firms’ forecast figures, and are subject to change depending on future economic conditions and other factors affecting the businesses concerned.
For more information on RSA go to

Tourism boost as Ayrshire and Arran welcomes coach operators

Some of the best of Ayrshire and Arran’s visitor attractions have been showcased to 23 coach and tourism operators, as part of a familiarisation trip to the area, organised by the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Team, Visit Arran, Menzies Irvine Hotel and Discover Travel and Trade – with almost instant results!
[Pictured: Coach and travel operators came to sample the best of Ayrshire, resulting in 40 new coach tour bookings confirmed in the area for next year, with an estimated boost to the local economy of £140,000.]
The operators were all UK based and organise three to five day coach trips to destinations across the UK and Europe and the aim was to showcase the fantastic range of visitor attractions available across the region and to start building relationships with them, to encourage inclusion the region in their 2014 itineraries.
The visit has already made an immediate impact, with 40 new coach tour bookings confirmed in the area for next year, with an estimated boost to the local economy of £140,000.
As part of the wider tour the group visited a range of attractions across Ayrshire and Arran including Dumfries House, Burns Birthplace Museum, Nardinis, Brodick Castle, and Arran Distillery.
Moira Birtwistle, Chairperson, Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Leadership Group commented: “We want to encourage more coaches to visit Ayrshire and Arran and familiarisation visits are a great way for operators to see what we can offer, by experiencing our amazing scenery, coastline and visitor attractions for themselves.”
Other operators have also confirmed their interest in the area with Vince O’Brian, of Star Coaches saying: “We’ve been really impressed with the visitor attractions we’ve seen on this trip. Ayrshire and Arran has a lot to offer our customers and we’ll definitely be looking to include the region in the future.”
Moira Birtwistle concluded: “This visit has produced immediate results and I’m pleased we also have interest being shown in Ayrshire and Arran by other companies.
“Attracting increasing numbers to the area will have a positive knock-on effect for hotels, guest houses, restaurants, visitor attractions and a range of linked businesses.
“This is great news for the tourism industry, superb news for local businesses and fantastic news for Ayrshire and Arran!”

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

South Ayrshire Council housing summit to build on positive reception

A housing summit, aimed at exploring new and innovative ways of building new houses in South Ayrshire has received a positive reception from over 20 sector leaders who attended.
[Pictured: Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council.]
House builders, planners, representative bodies, housing associations, local politicians and officials, community planning partners and a representative of the Scottish Government all came along to the event to consider ideas for partnership working to maximise building opportunities.
The Summit also considered how the Council might work differently with other sectors, including the private sector, to expand on the multi-million pound investment the local authority is already making in public housing up to 2018 and beyond.
Councillor McIntosh said: “Meeting housing need in our area as the economy and financial outlook becomes increasingly challenging is a key priority for us and is something we will be exploring vigorously with key partners.
“We’re determined to provide high-quality, affordable and flexible homes for families in South Ayrshire as a key part of driving wealth creation and employment opportunities for our residents.
“The summit offered an excellent way for different parties to come forward and put their ideas, plans and ambitions on the table in order to look at future demand and how best we can all meet the diverse needs of the community.
“I am pleased that the positive outcome from this initial event has created a desire among the delegates for further joint work to be explored and I’m confident we will be able to build on this superb first step with another similar summit very soon.”
Delegates who attended the summit were:
Councillor Bill McIntosh, South Ayrshire Council
Councillor Philip Saxton, South Ayrshire Council
Eileen Howat, Acting Chief Executive, South Ayrshire Council
Kenneth Leinster, Head of Community Care & Housing, South Ayrshire Council
David Burns, Acting Manager - Strategic Service Planning, South Ayrshire Council
Heather Anderson, Acting Manager – Housing Development, South Ayrshire Council
Chris Cox, Planning Manager, South Ayrshire Council
David Bell, Managing Director, Ayr Renaissance
Iain Gairns, Head of Property Services, NHS Ayrshire & Arran
Jim Whiston, Director, Ayrshire Housing Paul Torrance, Chairman, Ayrshire Housing
Joe Dewar, Business Development Manager, Link Group
Kenneth Shepherd, Development Officer, Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association Ltd 
Alex Grassie, Development Manager, West of Scotland Housing Association
Ian Hope, Hope Homes (Scotland) Limited
David Jewell, Strategic Planning Manager, Mactaggart and Mickel Group Limited
Garry Milne, Land Director, Central Scotland, Stewart Milne Group
Gavin Loudon, Area Director, Stewart Milne Group
Ruth King, Senior Consultant, Geddes Consulting
Philip Hogg, Chief Executive, Homes for Scotland
Blair Melville, Head of Planning Strategy, Homes for Scotland
Bill Barron, Housing Supply Team, Scottish Government

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

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Cheltenham hero Simonsig heading for Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse?

By: Iain Ferguson
Simonsig, winner of the Racing Post Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, could be heading to the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse.
The Nicky Henderson trained horse (pictured above) is a possible runner in the Arcadia Consulting William Dickie & Mary Robertson Future Champion Chase on 20 April at the track.
The presence of Simonsig, owned by businessman Ronnie Bartlett, is sure to boost the crowd at Scotland’s richest race meeting.
It was announced last week that prize money for the two-day Festival has been boosted by £100,000 to more than £500,000.
Advance ticket sales for the meeting are going well, and for more details on racing at Ayr Racecoursecall 01292 264179 or go online at
For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292-294972 or 07795-565691.
Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Transformation will leave Ayr’s ‘pink buildings’ pretty as a picture

Work to transform the iconic ‘pink buildings’, which sit at the gateway to Ayr town centre, is set to get underway following the successful conclusion of discussions with the property owners and the appointment of contractors to complete the works.
The works will be completed as part of the £2.5 million Ayr Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) – funded by South Ayrshire Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Historic Scotland and owner contributions. The level of owner contributions vary according to the specification of the works required.
[Pictured: Ayr Councillors Kirsty Darwent, Allan Dorans, Mary Kilpatrick, Rita Miller and Corri Wilson joined owners of homes and businesses within the pink buildings, contractors and officers working on the project to celebrate the conclusion of discussions and the appointment of the contractors to carry out the much-anticipated works.]
Ayr THI will be delivered through a sympathetic conservation and refurbishment programme that ensures the special historical and architectural character of the buildings is properly maintained.
The properties included in the THI are 1-3, 2-6 and 6A-10 New Bridge Street in Ayr and comprise a total of 12 flats and five shop premises. Planned improvements include:

• Removal of the existing paintwork, which is cracked and peeling in many places.
• Repointing and stonework repairs to improve the external condition of the masonry and to prevent water penetration into the buildings.
• Roof repairs and replacement, where required.
• Renewal of downpipes and gutters to improve rainwater disposal.
• Lime rendering to protect the walls of the buildings.
• Limited structural repairs.
• Window repairs and replacement, where required.
ARPL Architects and contractors CBC will carry out all works using traditional methods and materials and in line with best conservation practice to help preserve the history of the buildings and town, while ensuring they can enjoy a sustainable future.

ARPL Architects Ltd director Gordon Fleming said: "We are very pleased that finally the gateway to Ayr is to be restored as a worthy landmark for the town."
Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “I’m delighted we’re finally at the stage when everything is in place for the actual physical works on the pink buildings to get started and my thanks to all the property owners involved in the lengthy discussions to get us to this point.
“While we recognise that things have taken longer than we would have liked, a huge amount of behind the scenes work has been undertaken since planning permission was granted a year ago and it was vital all of this was in place before we could progress.
“This is an incredible project that will provide a major visible boost and help generate real pride in Ayr town centre for residents, visitors and businesses alike.”
Councillor John McDowall, Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment, added: “Ayr THI is about retaining the character, history and essence of the pink buildings while giving them a sustainable makeover that will help ensure they are returned to the eye-catching status they deserve for years to come.
“The works that will be completed will give a new lease of life to these fantastic buildings and set the tone for anyone entering the town, and I look forward to seeing the contractors on site in the near future.”
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “We launched our THI grant programme over ten years ago as we found that for regeneration to really work, it has to have roots. Roots make a place unique, connect people with their history and give a place its identity.
“The pink buildings are part of Ayr’s roots and a prominent historic landmark in the town. Thanks to the THI programme, they will now have a new lease of life. This is an exciting step forward in the area’s on-going transformation.”
Thomas Knowles, Deputy Head of Investment at Historic Scotland, added: “The iconic pink buildings in Ayr form part of its history and heritage. We are pleased that our grant will help preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”
John Harkiss of Harkiss Developments Ltd, who own a number of commercial properties at New Bridge Street, said: "This is very good news for the buildings and is a definite step in the right direction to ensure there is an attractive and welcoming entrance to the town. I'm particularly pleased the project will see the removal of the existing paintwork and the restoration of the stonework so the building will look the way it was always intended to be.”
Adrian and Jaclyn Tobin, who own one of the flats in the pink buildings, added: “We’re absolutely delighted the works are now well and truly on the horizon and really excited about the difference this will make for us. We love the flat and its location but the condition of the building has caused us real problems at times so we’re thrilled all that is about to change. We can’t wait for the works to get underway ­– and finished!”
The Ayr THI works are being managed by Ayr Renaissance on behalf of the Council. Ayr THI will not only ensure the character of the area is maintained, it will also provide the opportunity to encourage traditional conservation methods and techniques, support on-the-job training and raise awareness of conservation as a potential career.
Evelyn McCann, Acting Chair of Ayr Renaissance, added: “Ayr THI is an important step on the journey to transform Ayr town centre and will be a very visible sign that things are changing for the town. This is the start of something really exciting that will make a big difference and will, we hope, help promote the wider economic regeneration of the town centre.”
On-site work on the Ayr THI is expected to get underway next month and is expected to be completed before the end of 2014.
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 3,000 projects with an investment of over £582 million across Scotland. For further information on HLF, please contact Shiona Mackay on 01786 870638/07779 142890 or e-mail:
Ayr’s pink buildings: Historical background
When William the Lion created a Royal Burgh at Ayr in 1205, he was reinforcing a recognition that this site on the left bank of the River Ayr was important strategically and politically. A castle had existed on the hill to the south of the river since at least the late 12th century and it was made the seat of a sheriff at about the same time.
The town that developed depended heavily on the river for trade and communication. The dog-legged shape of the main street (High Street, Sandgate) allowed many of the house plots which lined it to have direct rear access to the river, while vennels such as Water Vennel and Boat Vennel provided access for others.
At that time the river was not the controlled waterway we see today, but rather a meandering stream between mud banks, rising and falling with the tides. There were no quays and boats would have been hauled above high water mark, or secured to private jetties behind those plots that had a river frontage.
The Boat Vennel led to the original harbour: the open area immediately to the west of the study area, which would have been a muddy or sandy slope up which ships could be hauled.
The people of Ayr had trading and property rights which they guarded carefully. As is commonly the case, a sister settlement developed where those people lived who did not have trading rights yet could provide services that the townspeople needed but were unwilling or unable to provide. In Ayr’s case this settlement was Newton, whose Main Street runs in direct continuation of Sandgate.
Communication between the two settlements was by a ford which ran from the south end of Newton to the foot of the Water Vennel, which joined Ayr’s Main Street at the sharp dog-leg. Thus the two arms of the Main Street, with the Vennels, formed a cross, which represented the heart of the burgh, where in the early medieval period a tollbooth was erected.
The river was fordable at many points above the ford at the Water Vennel, but at some point in the early medieval period, probably in the 14th century, the first bridge across the river was built on the site of the present Auld Brig. This provided an additional access to the town from the north and may have helped the High Street arm of the main street to prosper at the expense of the Sandgate arm, which suffered (unsurprisingly) from problems with blown sand. However, the heart, the core of the town remained at the intersection of the main street with the Boat and Water Vennels.
Although from the late 17th century, as ships had grown in size, efforts had been made to improve the harbour, and the focus of Ayr’s shipping trade had moved nearer the sea where quays and wharves had been built, the situation changed little until the late 18th Century, a period of great social and economic change. One major innovation was the development of wheeled transport (carriages and coaches), and the Auld Brig was found to be ‘unfit for purpose’. A new bridge was required, one that would allow carriages to enter the town easily, and one which would enhance the town’s prestige; show to the traveller that he or she had arrived at somewhere of importance, of taste and of refinement.
The site fixed upon for the new bridge was at the Water Vennel ford and plans were sought from Scotland’s premier architect, Robert Adam. However, the burgesses baulked at Adam’s fees and turned to another architect, Alexander Stevens: no less competent, but less fashionable and an experienced bridge designer having already constructed bridges at Hyndford, Leaderfoot, Montrose and Ancrum.
Stevens’ New Bridge, in a fashionable Classical style, was completed in 1789 (it was, as Burns prophesised, demolished in 1877-8).
To complement the bridge, the Water Vennel was widened and renamed New Bridge Street. Rows of mostly three-storey properties were built on either side of the new street: the row to the left (upstream) facing the river with the superb double-bow fronted house built by Stevens for himself. The downstream properties have a rounded corner and continue along South Harbour Street. Most were built before 1800. There is a further group beyond Boat Vennel, while in the early 19th Century the medieval tollbooth was removed from the centre of the cross and replaced by the present Town Hall.
The properties being considered form a remarkable unified group and, as they were designed to do, provide a wonderful and dramatic entrance to the burgh of Ayr. When new, they spoke of, and offered to the traveller, wealth, taste, refinement and modern living.
Besides Stevens, the houses are associated with many people who shaped and guided Ayr in the late 19th Century, such as David Auld who did much to establish Ayr as a centre for Burns-centred travel, and the provost John Ballantine, for whom the bridge and adjoining houses were the realisation of his dream for a modern Ayr.
Today these properties still speak of wealth, taste and refinement, for the seemingly effortless Georgian awareness of design, spatial planning and architectural detail has resulted in a bravura ensemble performance in which each building plays an equal part.
These properties create one of the finest approaches to any town in Scotland: the view of them from the Newton side of the river, with the early 19th century Town Buildings and the late 19th century replacement New Bridge, is the one that for many people unmistakably says “Ayr”. Through their association with Adam, Stevens and the poet himself, they also provide a direct connection between the changing late 18th century town that Burns knew and the 21st century town of today.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Opportunity for offshore turbine testing at Hunterston

Companies invited to register interest in
offshore test berth at Hunterston
Scottish Enterprise is seeking expressions of interest for the lease of its test berth at the Hunterston Test Centre for Offshore Wind, on the coast of North Ayrshire.
As the organisation develops one of the three berths for testing the latest full scale offshore turbine technology, it is seeking initial expressions of interest from manufacturers interested in leasing this from July 2015.
Scottish Enterprise and SSE are investors in a project to develop the Port of Hunterston which has a key role to play in developing the offshore wind supply chain in Scotland and the UK. Its wind resource replicates offshore conditions, and this coupled with its existing grid connection, makes it an ideal site for the testing facility.
The site’s location, less than an hour from Glasgow airport, gives manufacturers 24 hour access to make modifications and repairs – critical for early series prototype turbines.
In addition, SSE is working with its supply chain partners Siemens and Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe to test their latest turbine technology at two of the berths.
Scottish Enterprise is hoping to attract a turbine manufacturer to the third berth who will commit to locating significant research and development or manufacturing facilities in Scotland.
The invitation for expressions of interest coincides with the Scottish Renewables Annual Conference, being held at Edinburgh International Conference Centre, which will attract more than 700 delegates over two days.
Register expressions of interest HERE