The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 26 July 2013

£6m boost for Scottish fishing

Fishermen will be offered help to deal with the current pressures facing the industry through an action plan unveiled this week.

[Click on image above to view video.]

Prawn and white fish fishermen in Scotland have faced tough conditions in recent years with high fuel prices, export markets under pressure and the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan (CRP) having a detrimental effect. The dramatic fall in the availability of prawns has also caused the fleet to experience exceptionally hard times so far this year. 

The five-point action plan includes the following measures underpinned by up to £6 million in funding: 

• The establishment of a £3 million hardship fund for fishermen who may be facing exceptional stresses on their viability
• An invitation to vessels to trial a discard-free prawn fishery this year by fishing with gears that eliminate whitefish by-catch. These vessels will have additional time at sea to catch their quotas where necessary, and we will look to secure, through European funding, a guaranteed income as they adapt to new ways of working

It also encompasses:

• Alternative support for vessels not joining the discard free trial, with help to develop new fishing gears and measures to achieve the discard reduction targets
• Removing, where possible, barriers that stop fishermen diversifying into alternative sustainable fisheries
• Measures (and potentially additional funding) to promote our seafood sector and develop a Scottish brand to support the onshore sector in maximising economic growth

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, who made the announcement as he visited the North Atlantic Fisheries College in Shetland, said: “The fishing industry is very important to Scotland’s economy and contributed £500 million last year. It is the lifeblood of many local communities supporting over 5,000 coastal jobs across Scotland including many here in Shetland. 

“Scottish seafood is famed across Europe and our fishermen are being applauded for blazing a trail in terms of fisheries conservation but there are many big challenges facing one of our most vital sectors. 

“Issues such as volatile international markets and environmental factors such as a scarcity of prawns appearing on the grounds have meant many fishermen have been experiencing exceptionally tough times. And all this at time when regulatory changes such as the transition to discard free fisheries are just around the corner. 

“The Scottish Government wants to support our fishing industry and their communities as they seek to overcome short term challenges. We also want to help fishermen adapt to a future where they will no longer discard any of their catch. 

“As we work together to implement this action plan, we will also discuss what further steps can be taken by industry and Government to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of businesses in the fishing industries.” 

Welcoming the action plan, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “There are some very severe and specific challenges facing the Scottish prawn and whitefish fleets. This action plan demonstrates the Government's recognition of that and the 5 headlines closely reflect the recent tough discussions with industry. 

“Frustratingly, some of the critical problems such as fuel price and external regulation are outside government and industry direct control, however, there is much that can be done and we look forward to developing with government the offered actions as soon as possible.”

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Young jockeys in fine form at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

Three young jockeys were on target at the Racing UK Raceday at Ayr Racecourse on Monday, underlining the depth of talent in the jockeys' ranks in the north.

Connor Beasley piloted Dartrix to land the Download the Free Racing UK App Handicap for his boss Michael Dods at odds of 7/2, while Jordan Nason guided Jim Goldie's Grand Diamond (11/4)  to victory in the Watch Racing UK on Sky 432 Handicap.

Joey Haynes celebrated his new role as apprentice to the powerful Elaine Burke yard by steering Bold Prediction (9/2) (pictured above, left) to win the Luke Currie Memorial Handicap.

Joe Fanning rode a double winning the opening race on Stars Over The Sea (1/2 fav) for trainer Mark Johnston, and then landing the five furlong handicap on Fitz Flyer (11/8 fav).

And for the third Ayr meeting in a row Jim Goldie saddled a double with Someone's Darling (7/4) winning the Fillies Handicap under Andrew Elliott to add to Grand Diamond's success.

The next meeting at Ayr Racecourse is the Racing UK July Finale Raceday on Monday 29 July with the first race at 2pm and gates open at 12 noon. Senior citizens who book before 5pm on Friday 26 July go free.

For more information on racing at Ayr or to book tickets call 01292 24179 or go online at  

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

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

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Scottish construction sector - the long road to recovery begins

The on-going decline of the Scottish construction sector seems finally to be turning a corner with the number of new projects beginning to rise, says the latest RICS construction market survey. 

Since the start of the downturn in 2007, the amount of construction going ahead across the country has dropped considerably and the sector has suffered substantially as a result. However, activity finally does appear to be edging upwards, with 11 percent more surveyors reporting rises in workloads in the second quarter of the year, the most positive reading since Q1 2008.

Encouragingly, this more positive tone is expected to continue over the coming year with 33 percent more respondents predicting workloads will continue to rise rather than fall once more. With every pound spent on construction in the UK generating almost three pounds of wider economic growth, this will undoubtedly be seen as good news for UK PLC. 

Significantly, the improved expectations for workloads are also being reflected in sign that the collapse in profitability may be staring to reverse. Encouragingly this is also feeding through to a greater level of optimism about the prospects for employment with 22 percent more chartered surveyors expecting job opportunities within the industry rise in the next twelve months. Once again, this is the most positive the sector has been in a number of years and the industry will be hoping that this is the start of the long road to recovery that we have long been waiting for. 

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “It is most definitely good news that the amount of construction taking place across the country seems to have turned a corner. Increasing numbers of homes, infrastructure projects, shops and offices can only be good for the wider economy. 

“It is important however, that we keep this in perspective. Construction across Scotland has been falling for quite some time and despite an increase in activity, there is still a long way to go and a number of financial barriers to remove before we can start talking about a full recovery.” 

RICS is the world’s leading qualification when it comes to professional standards in land, property and construction.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Scottish first for public health practitioner registration

A Health Promotion Officer in NHS Ayrshire & Arran has become the first public health practitioner in Scotland to have her professional registration with the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR) approved. 

Joanne Inglis (pictured above) was able to demonstrate key areas of practice in public health in order to attain the prestigious recognition of knowledge and skills.  

Public health practitioners play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of the population. To make sure their work is safe and effective a pilot scheme to support public health practitioners apply for professional registration with the UKPHR was set up in February 2012. 

The scheme forms a partnership between four NHS Boards; NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Highland and NHS Lanarkshire. The UKPHR is an independent regulator for public health practitioners in the UK and aims to protect the public by regulating professionals who work in public health.

Other medical professionals such as doctors, dentists, nurses and midwifes, and Allied Health Professionals all have to demonstrate they are safe to practice in their area of expertise. However, until recently, such a scheme for staff working as public health practitioners did not exist. The West of Scotland pilot Practitioner Registration Scheme was set up in response to this and to provide the opportunity for staff to work towards professional registration. 

Applicants have to evidence their work in four key areas of practice in public health:

* Professional and ethical practice (for example, continuously developing and improving practice in public health).
* Technical competence (for example, promoting the value of health and wellbeing and the reduction of inequalities).
* Application of public health competence (for example, working in partnership to plan and/or deliver programmes to improve health and wellbeing).
* Underpinning skills and knowledge (for example, supporting the implementation of policies and strategies to improve health and wellbeing).

Joanne’s portfolio which included pieces of work in relation to the green gym programme in North Ayrshire, physical activity in Ayrshire and Arran, and implementation of the Health Improving Care Establishments framework has been assessed as being in line with the standards required for staff working in this field. 

Dr Carol Davidson, Director of Public Health, commented: “Public health practitioners are a key part of the public health workforce and play a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of our population. I am delighted that Joanne has been granted registration with the UKPHR which is a testament to her hard work and commitment. I would also like to thank the assessors and verifiers involved in the scheme for their support.”

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Scottish businesses looking to expand

An increasing number of business leaders across Scotland are planning to recruit over the coming year, according to a Skills Development Scotland (SDS) supported report.

[Pictured: Gareth Williams, Head of Policy at SCDI]

Carried out by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), the survey shows that 38% of private sector employers expect to increase employment over the next 12 months - up from 27% just six months ago.

Employers also emphasised the benefit of hiring fresh talent, with 61% agreeing that ‘young people bring ICT capabilities’ to their organisation.

Highlighting the difficulty employers sometimes have in filling specific vacancies, the survey cited  engineering; management and leadership, IT and digital and financial management as the most challenging.

Two thirds of employers would also like to see greater emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in the education and training system.           

Gareth Williams, Head of Policy at SCDI said: “The results of this survey are encouraging. They demonstrate that, while economic conditions remain difficult for many employers, they are becoming more bullish on employment, a sign of increasing confidence.
“Attracting and developing people with the right skills is a key factor for businesses as they aim to grow, and the survey highlights their priorities, such as an increased focus on science, technology and engineering.
“Employers are clearly saying that they want government and public agencies to build on the significant progress which is being made in aligning their support with the job opportunities businesses are creating.”

The survey reflects the opinions of the SCDI membership, with responses coming from across the private sector (76%), the public sector (13%) and the third sector (10%).

Businesses looking to hire new staff or upskill their existing workforce can receive support and advice from the SDS employer services team by calling the helpline on 0800 783 6000.