The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle NEXT MEETING

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle NEXT MEETING
Friday 6 September at 8am
University of the West of Scotland, Craigie Campus, Ayr

All Ayrshire business people are warmly invited to attend the next business breakfast meeting of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle, which will take place at the University of the West of Scotland Ayr Craigie Campus at 8am on Friday 6 September.

As well as a presentation by the University’s Commercial Services Department, the meeting will also feature the first leg of a two-part Big Debate on whether Independence would be advantageous or otherwise for Scottish business and the Scottish economy.

At our September meeting, the case in favour of Independence will be presented by Gordon MacIntyre Kemp.

Gordon is a business owner with specialist sales, marketing and social media expertise who brings the skills and experience of working with major corporate brands to persuading people to vote YES in 2014.  As such, he is the founder and driving force behind Business for Scotland.

Just a few months ago he discussed launching such a network with six fellow pro-independence business owners, and already the group has already attracted 250 members pre-launch just through word of mouth.

The website takes the form of an online magazine and covers business, economics and independence in a way that the BfS team hopes engages, informs, educates and persuades the Scottish business community of the benefits of voting Yes in 2014.

As usual, the meeting will also afford another excellent opportunity to network with other top Ayrshire business people in a friendly and informal environment.

A complimentary buffet breakfast will be provided.

In order to assist with catering planning, please notify the names of people from your company who will be attending this meeting to:

Murdoch MacDonald

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Scottish housing market on road to recovery

The Scottish housing market appears to have finally turned a corner as prices and demand continue to grow, says the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.

During July, the amount of potential buyers looking to enter the market saw a considerable rise, as a net balance of 52 percent more chartered surveyors reported increases in demand. Since the start of the year, buyers have gradually been returning to test the market – thanks in part to government finance initiatives – yet the amount of would-be buyers during the last three months has witnessed a sizable peak. 

Consequentially, prices continued to increase in Scotland for the second consecutive month, with a net balance of 39 percent more chartered surveyors reporting a rise in prices. Notably, price rises were not only confined to Scotland, with the majority of the UK seeing growth as we enter the end of the summer period. 

Looking ahead, it seems that prices across the country are going to continue to rise, with a net balance of 29 percent more Scottish surveyors predicting increases over the next three months and 56 percent more over the next year. Meanwhile, transaction levels are also expected to grow, as 60 percent more respondents expect sales to rise rather than fall.

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, said: “These results are great news for the property market as it looks like at long last a recovery could be around the corner. Growth in expected transactions and prices have been happening in some parts of the country since the beginning of the year but this is the first time that everywhere has experienced some improvement. In particular, it is encouraging that our results suggest greater availability of mortgages for first-time buyers in Scotland is being accompanied by higher loan to value ratios.” 

In tandem with rising buyer confidence, the number of potential sellers looking to test the market and place their homes up for sale remained solid. Last month, 24 percent more respondents reported rises rather than falls in new instructions. This reading has now been in positive territory since October 2012. 

Ian J Fergusson BSc FRICS, J&E Shepherd, commented: “June saw a flurry of activity in the Home Report market with customers getting organised to place their home on the market before the summer holiday slow down. Sales have similarly been up, reflected in the number of replacement Home Reports provided.”

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.

About RICS

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

In a world where more and more people, governments, banks and commercial organisations demand greater certainty of professional standards and ethics, attaining RICS status is the recognised mark of property professionalism.

Over 100 000 property professionals working in the major established and emerging economies of the world have already recognised the importance of securing RICS status by becoming members.

RICS is an independent professional body originally established in the UK by Royal Charter. Since 1868, RICS has been committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity – providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society. RICS is a regulator of both its individual members and firms enabling it to maintain the highest standards and providing the basis for unparalleled client confidence in the sector.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Huge hike in prize money for William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival

By: Iain Ferguson

MASSIVE increases in prize money have been announced for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival which takes place from Thursday 19 September until Saturday 21 September at Ayr Racecourse.

[Pictured above: Captain Ramius and jockey Pat Smullen win the 2012 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.]

The total prize fund for 2013 is £587,000 in prize money, up £150,900 from last year – a 35% increase year on year.

The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday 21 September is worth £155,000 compared to £120,000 in 2012, and on the same card there are two supporting races boasting £60,000 each.

These are the William Hill – Bet On The Move Doonside Cup, a Listed Race which last year was run for £35,000, and the William Hill – In the App Store Firth Of Clyde Stakes (£40,000 in 2012).

The William Hill Ayr Silver Cup has £50,000 on offer as opposed to £35,000 last year and the total Saturday money is £400,000 up from £291,000.

The third of the major sprints, the William Hill Ayr Bronze Cup is raced for on the Friday and carries a fund of £35,000 (£25,000).

Ayr Racecourse chairman Alan Macdonald (pictured above) said: “I am delighted to announce this rise in prize money for Scotland’s premier flat fixture of the season. It shows our commitment to keeping this Festival at the top end of the racing calendar.

“The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup continues to be the richest sprint handicap in Europe and by boosting the prize for the Doonside Cup we hope to attarct some quality horses.”

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.

Ballantrae Smugglers Festival 21-24 August

By: David Bone

There’s conspiracy afoot in Ballantrae as villagers plot all sorts of shenanigans this week. Dubious characters have been spotted gathering old clothes, and a curious pair in 18th Century garb have been seen patrolling the streets. And there’s talk that local worthies are on the verge of being detained by the authorities and put on public trial. No one is above suspicion - it's all set to culminate in 4 days of frenzied activity between 21 and 24 August.

The story is there are smugglers in town. And the Exciseman and the Judge have enlisted the help of local children to draw up posters and apprehend the scandalous culprits. These posters were displayed in Girvan’s McKechnie Institute from 10-17 August.   

This new “Smugglers Festival” is being staged by Ballantrae Development Group supported by Ballantrae Community Council and Carrick Futures. The aim is to encourage tourism and offer fundraising opportunities to local community groups. With an action packed programme, this unique series of events, which draws on the area’s murky past as a haven for smugglers, looks certain to put the village on the map. 

Last weekend 17-18 August smuggler scarecrows started appearing on the streets, in gardens, businesses and homes. By the afternoon and early evening of Wednesday 21st the local Judge and Exciseman will gather local and visiting children, swear them in as members of “The Excise” and seek their help as they scour the village following a “Smugglers Trail”.  There will be prizes for the most smugglers spotted.

By 7.30 pm on Wednesday 21st the Community Hall will have been transformed into the "Smugglers’ Arms" for the rest of the week. Star attraction that night will be Frances Wilkins, a social historian and author who will be telling “Ballantrae’s Smuggling Story” to adults and children and launching her new book all about the village’s smuggling history. 

At 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd there will be a “Secret Smugglers Film Night” with a screening to adults and children of a well-known classic film based on the true story of a Scottish coastal village whisky smuggling. And for 20 pre-booked adults from 8.00pm there’s a chance to sample some of Scotland’s finest whiskies in a special tasting night run by the Kirkoswald Whisky Experience. 

But while everyone relaxes on the Thursday, the Exciseman and Judge will have been busy, tracking down the rogues trading contraband in the community – they’ll be arrested and brought to trial at an interactive “Court of Justice” for all the family at the Smugglers Arms on Friday 23rd at 7.30pm in a public trial which is expected to throw up a few scandalous surprises… 

Finally on Saturday from 1.00pm – 4.00pm the smugglers who have been captured will be punished at the Village Fayre – it’s rumoured that some of the stallholders will be trying to offload their contraband – but watch out – we hear the Exciseman is planning a raid! The events will wind up with an evening of Folk music from 8.00pm till midnight for adults in the Smugglers Arms, organised Girvan Folk Club. 

For further information go to, Facebook Ballantrae Smugglers Festival or email 

Tickets for the various events are available from Craigiemains Home and Garden Centre, Main Street, Ballantrae (in person), by email from or by phoning 07920517700.

If you live within travelling distance of Ballantrae you are cordially invited to join in the fun.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Scottish trainers to the fore at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

Ayr Racecourse’s August fixtures provided some good racing and a string of Scottish trained winners.

[Pictured: Captain Baldwin (blue headgear) wins the Jan Wilson Memorial Handicap at the QTS Ladies Night meeting at Ayr Racecourse.]

Jim Goldie landed a double on QTS Ladies Night on Saturday with Captain Baldwin (11/1) winning the Jan Wilson Memorial Apprentice Handicap under Jordan Nason and Algar Lad (9/2) landing the QTS Handicap for Graham Lee.

Keith Dalgleish continued his tremendous run by sending 8/1 shot Circuitous out to win the Unison Supporting  St Vincent’s Hospice 25th Year Handicap on Saturday and then saddled Lucy Bee at massive odds of 18/1 to win the Jeremiah Wood Handicap at Monday’s Wallaces Express Raceday. Both horses were ridden by Tom Eaves.

The beautiful grey horse Silver Rime trained by Linda Perratt and ridden by Phillip Makin won the Courvoisier Handicap on Monday at 7/2 landing some big bets for the stable’s followers. Linda just failed to land a double in the last when Saxonette (7/2 fav) was beaten into second place.

Other Ladies Night winners included Goldan Jess (7/2) for trainer Philip Kirby and jockey Russ Kennemore  in the Thomson Removals And Self Storage Handicap. The same jockey steered Woodacre (15/8 fav) to win the Unison’s Ayrshire & Arran Health Branch Handicap.

Biggest priced winner on Saturday was Amelia Jay (16/1) for trainer Danielle McCormick and jockey Andrew Elliott in the Bella Mani Salons Handicap.

[Pictured: Amelia Jay on the left in white and black wins the Bella Mani Salons Handicap at at the QTS Ladies Night meeting at Ayr Racecourse.]  

On Monday there were doubles for trainers James Given and Richard Fahey. The former scored with Artful Prince (7/1), ridden by Graham Lee and Royal Bajan (10/1), the mount of James Sullivan.

Richard Fahey was successful  with Flighty Clarets (10/1) in the Woodford Reserve Handicap under Lee Topliss and Spirit Of The Law (7/2, ridden by George Chaloner,  in the Caledonia Best Handicap.

Ayr’s next meeting is the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival from Thursday 19 September until Saturday 21 September. For more information on racing call 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.