The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 8 November 2013

Plan to revitalise town centres launched in Kilmarnock

Government responds to Town Centre Review

Plans to breathe new life into town centres across Scotland have been unveiled by Local Government Minister Derek Mackay.

[Pictured: Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay, was in Bank Street Kilmarnock as he plans to breath life into town centres across Scotland, part of which is an expansion of the rates relief scheme for new businesses to include pubs, restaurants and hotels in a bid to diversify the high street. Local shop owner Tracey Murray speaks to the minister.]

Included in the plan is an expansion of the rates relief scheme for new businesses to include pubs, restaurants and hotels in a bid to diversify the high street. 

The Town Centre Action Plan is a cross-government response to the independent National Review of Town Centres, published in July.

The Action Plan addresses the recommendations of the Review and out-lines proposed joint working between public, private and community sectors.

Actions include:

Expanding the ‘Fresh Start’ business rates relief to apply to pubs, hotels and restaurants from 1 April 2014 and to increase the thresholds of the scheme from property with a rateable value of £45,000 to £65,000 

£2 million towards a Town Centre Housing Fund to help bring empty town centre properties back into use 

Working with COSLA to develop a town centre first principle. This will include a series of demonstration projects specifically targeting areas identified by the Review group 

Powers for local authorities to establish Town Centre Investment Zones 

£120,000 for Town Centre charettes – grants available to help deliver community design meetings specifically focused on town centres 

Launching a competition for entrepreneurs to drive forward town centre regeneration ideas 

Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay named as dedicated Minister for Town Centres 

Maintaining the Small Business Bonus Scheme for the life of the current Parliament, removing or substantially reducing the rates burden for thousands of town centre properties 

Working with stakeholders to identify support priorities for Business Improvement District (BID) projects 

Investigating ways of expanding the role of Scottish Future Trust place-based reviews

Speaking during his visit to Bank Street in Kilmarnock, which, due to the efforts of East Ayrshire Council, local traders groups and businesses, reached 100 per cent occupancy in October this year, Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government is determined that our town centres should be vibrant, attractive and safe places where local people and visitors alike want to spend their time and money. 

“They should be accessible places which invite business start-up and inspire innovative ideas from all walks of the community. We welcomed the independent review earlier this year and the crucial role it will play in the regeneration of high streets across Scotland.

“In response to this we are today publishing an Action Plan which will encourage and support action across the wider public, private and community sectors.

“We recognise the importance of securing the future of our high streets as the economic centre of our towns. This is why we have expanded Fresh Start – our rates relief scheme for new businesses – to include pubs, hotels and restaurants and increasing the thresholds for the scheme.

“Our town centres should also be places where we live and socialise, which is why we have allocated £2 million towards a housing fund to bring empty properties back into use as homes and are supporting community design charettes through £120,000 in funding.

“The plan marks a new era for Scotland’s town centres and we will continue to work in partnership with local authorities, private and community organisations to ensure they are vibrant places to live, work and socialise.”

Malcolm Fraser, the architect who led the Town Centre Review, said: “What I think we have here, is a change of Government mindset: a reversal of the throw-away habit that abandons old towns, with their communities, infrastructure and services, for greenfield sites. 

“I’m impressed at the Government’s determination to promote a new, town-centred culture across its policy-making and decision-taking. Next is for Local Authorities to embrace the challenges and opportunities this brings, and for our business and communities to be encouraged and enabled.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “Within East Ayrshire we want our town centres to be vibrant, bustling places where people can work, shop, live and socialise and we are working very hard to ensure positive change for our communities. 

“The Bank Street area of Kilmarnock is the perfect example of what can be achieved. Over many years, this area has benefitted from investment in regeneration projects and owners of buildings have been given help to restore and upgrade their premises. The Council has also worked to enhance the look of the street with improved street furniture and lighting, new cobbles and street artwork.”

During his visit Mr Mackay met with traders on Bank Street, including Coffee Press owner, Alisdair Hood (pictured above).

Mr Hood said: “Bank Street is bucking the trend with 100 per cent occupancy and lots of independent shops. 

“For me a town centre should be the beating heart of a community and we all have a role to play in developing our town centres.”

The Action Plan will be published at 10am on November 7 2013. Link to the Action Plan on the Scottish Government website: 

Also published today is an independent analysis commissioned by Historic Scotland, which assessed the impact of a range of investments (Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes, Historic Building Repair Grants, support for City Heritage Trusts, Archaeology Grants, Ancient Monument Grants and Voluntary Sector Grants). It shows that investments in the historic environment over the past five years have been a catalyst for further investment in our communities, including town centres, highlighting the key role these grants play in regeneration and supporting tourism.

South Ayrshire Council announces X-citing line-up for Ayr Christmas lights switch-on

Ayr's X-mas celebrations will definitely have the X Factor this year with 2010 series winner Matt Cardle headlining the music stage in Ayr town centre on Sunday 17 November to switch on the town’s Christmas lights alongside South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie.

Matt (pictured above) is one of the most popular X Factor contestants, famously winning the public vote every single week – except one – during 2010’s live shows. His debut single, ‘When We Collide’, sold over 1 million copies and spent three weeks at number one and he has since achieved two top 10 albums, four sell-out UK & Ireland tours, launched his own record label and recorded his third album, which marks his first foray into the international music market.

He now achieves another first by headlining the start of Ayr’s Christmas festivities at the annual Christmas light switch-on event, with a fantastic free programme of music, entertainment and fun for all the family between 4pm and 6pm on Sunday 17 November.

Supporting Matt at this popular event will be Ayrshire musician, Sean Kennedy, who started out as a footballer before finding his natural home in music. Sean’s music career began in a local band before progressing as a solo musician working with the likes of Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), Nik Kershaw and Simple Minds. He performed at the London 2012 Olympics on stage within the Olympic Park and has since released his debut EP (Extended Play).

Joining Matt and Sean in the line-up are the fantastic Espedair Street Band, with their wonderful renditions of the best of Scottish contemporary pop music from the last five decades including Texas, Marmalade, Amy McDonald, Fratellis, KT Tunstall, Average White Band, Deacon Blue, Runrig, Kelly Marie, Lulu, Hipsway & The Bay City Rollers!

In addition, the Salvation Army will be getting everyone in the Christmas mood with some favourite festive tunes, High Street will be packed with lots of Santas from Ayrshire Cancer Support’s Santa Dash, and local youth drama group, Razzamatazz, will be providing some town centre entertainment.

Further acts have still to be confirmed but it’s certainly going to be another fabulous festive event as Provost Helen Moonie explained: “Christmas is such a magical time of the year and we want to get it off to a great start with the best event possible in Ayr town centre. Matt, Sean and Espedair Street are sure to get the thousands in the crowd going and I have no doubt at all that a wonderful time will be had by all. I would urge everyone to put the date in their diary and make sure they get switched on to Christmas 2013 with South Ayrshire Council.”  

South Ayrshire Council is also offering the chance for one lucky person – and a friend – to win the chance to go backstage at the Christmas lights switch-on and meet headline act, Matt Cardle.

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic festive prize, all you have to do is visit, search for ‘South Ayrshire Events and Festivals’ and like any of our posts about the Ayr Christmas Lights Switch On. It’s that easy and the winner will be selected at random.

The competition closes at noon on Tuesday 12 November and winners must be available to attend the Ayr Christmas Lights Switch On on Sunday 17 November between 4pm and 6pm. All costs in getting to and from the event will be borne by the winner – full terms and conditions on the South Ayrshire Events and Festivals Facebook page.

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

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Athletics legend Steve Cram delivers cash boost for Ayrshire Hospice from Clydesdale Bank and Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Athletics legend Steve Cram MBE visited Ayr last week, presenting Ayrshire Hospice with a donation of more than £11,500 from Clydesdale Bank and the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.  

The majority of the money, £9,558, was raised by the annual Clydesdale Bank /Elite Ayrshire Business Circle Charity Golf Day earlier this year. The event, held at Turnberry, attracts support from businesses across Ayrshire and in the last six years has raised more than £59,000 for Ayrshire Hospice.  

A further £1,949 was raised by staff from the Bank’s branch in Ayr through a series of events including a sponsored trek round Cumbrae, a baking sale and a book club.  

Steve Cram, in his role as ambassador for Clydesdale Bank, presented representatives from the Hospice with a cheque at the Bank’s Ayr branch. The Ayrshire Hospice provides palliative care services to patients and their families from across the region.  

In acknowledging the donation, Anne Drennan, assistant fundraising manager at the Ayrshire Hospice, spoke of the importance of the business community to the hospice. Anne said: “We really value this support from Clydesdale Bank, the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and business leaders in Ayrshire.  
“Business events and partnerships like this play an important part in funding the highest level of care we can provide for patients across Ayrshire.”  

Earlier in the day the former world champion, who won gold in the 800m and 1500m at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, spoke to an audience of students at Ayrshire College.  

Steve recounted experiences from his long career as an athlete and broadcaster, passing on tips on how to be successful in the sports industry and why planning and prioritising are essential for reaching your goals.  

Heather Dunk, principal of Ayrshire College, said: “Our College is all about raising aspirations and inspiring achievement so who better than a top athlete to encourage and motivate our students to reach their goals.   

“I am sure they will have picked up some great advice today. When they look back at their time at college this will be one of their most memorable experiences.”  

Steve Cram MBE is regarded as one of the finest middle distance runners of all time, setting world records throughout the 1980s and winning silver over 1500m at the 1984 Olympics. His winning 800m time at the 1986 Commonwealth Games still stands as a Games record and cannot be beaten until they return to Scotland next year.   

David Jellema, private banking manager at Clydesdale Bank’s Ayr Business and Private Banking Centre, said: “Welcoming a sporting legend like Steve Cram here has been a pleasure and a truly memorable occasion. We are particularly pleased that he was able to play a part in presenting the results of our fundraising efforts to Ayrshire Hospice, which provides a valuable service for the local community. 

“We would like to thank everyone from the Ayrshire business community who supported our golf day and fundraising events for Ayrshire Hospice throughout the year.  

“Steve has great experience over many years, first as a top athlete then commentator and businessman, and hopefully he has passed some of that on to the Ayrshire College students, inspiring them for the future.”  

Clydesdale Bank is part of the National Australia Bank Group. Clydesdale Bank was established in 1838 in Glasgow and, as one of Scotland’s largest banks, has a proud history of innovation and support for industry and communities across the UK.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Confidence continues to grow in the Ayrshire property market

The Ayrshire property market continues to show encouraging levels of activity according to new statistics released by leading Scottish property consultants, CKD Galbraith.

Following research conducted by the firm’s Ayr office, the quarter three period from July to September 2013 saw property sales up by 33% against the same period of 2012 whilst viewings and the number of buyers registered also grew significantly.

Bob Cherry (pictured above), partner in CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office, said: “Market confidence has been growing throughout the year and we have seen increasing willingness from buyers and sellers to make their next move. The statistics demonstrate an improving picture for the market and we forecast this is likely to continue into next year.”

CKD Galbraith Ayr statistics from quarter three show:-

Sales up by 33% against Q3 2012 (and up by 71% against Q2 2013)

Viewings up by 54% on Q3 2012 (and up by 72% against Q2 2013)

Buyers registered with the firm broadly static against Q3 2012 but up by 28% on Q3 2012

Number of properties listed for sale unchanged since the last quarter (and Q3 2012)

67% of buyers are locally based; 25% are national buyers; 8.3% are international buyers

CKD Galbraith’s sales teams operating across the whole of Scotland handled in excess of £400million worth of property (2012/13 financial year) ranging from cottages and conversions to country houses, farms and estates. 

Bob continued: ““There are buyers out there willing to purchase and across the year so far, we’ve seen an increase in sales and viewings this year.  However, realistic pricing is still imperative in today’s market. Those properties with prudent guide prices are the ones witnessing more activity.

“In and around Ayrshire, we are seeing good levels of demand for attractive and well located smallholdings with land, normally up to around the £300,000 mark. We are encouraged by this activity, and on other property types as well, that demonstrates that the market is continuing to steadily improve.”

CKD Galbraith Ayr has recently launched local Facebook and Twitter pages providing followers with updates, news and information on the local residential property market. To be the first to know about new properties available for sale in the area like and follow the pages at and

About CKD Galbraith 

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy employing 250 staff in offices in Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Aberfeldy, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso, Peebles, Alyth and Aberdeen. 

The partnership provides the full range of property consulting services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland. CKD Galbraith also enjoys a successful relationship with its associate firm in London, CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

To find out more about CKD Galbraith visit  or follow the firm on Facebook:  and Twitter:

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Monday, 4 November 2013

First Minister takes Scotland to the heart of Chinese Government with State Councillor meeting

First Minister Alex Salmond has taken Scotland to the heart of the Chinese Government in a high-level meeting with State Councillor Yang Jiechi during his trade mission to China.

During the meeting, which was held in the Chinese leadership headquarters in Beijing, the First Minister presented State Councillor Yang –who holds China’s most senior foreign affairs role - with a Mandarin version of the Scottish Government’s China Strategy, outlining the four guiding principles of Scotland’s engagement with the country.

The First Minister and State Councillor Yang also discussed how Scotland and China could forge a deeper friendship by building on recent successes such as increasing trade and investment and a memorandum of understanding that has extended the cultural partnership between the two nations.

The First Minister said: “My fourth visit to China in five years reflects the importance of the trade and investment relationship between Scotland and this country, as well as the enduring friendship between our cultures that has seen collaborations and exchanges in a range of fields over recent years. 

“My meeting with State Councillor Yang was extremely beneficial, and I was taken with how well informed he was about Scotland and the business and cultural links that already exist between our two countries. He exuded friendship towards the Scottish people, having been a visitor to Scotland during his career as a young diplomat. 

“Throughout the meeting, he talked of how Scotland was a fortunate country in terms of its innovation and natural resources and we were able to discuss how increasing partnerships in trade and investment as well as culture would continue to benefit both Scotland and China. 

“I was delighted to be able to present State Councillor Yang with a Mandarin version of the Scottish Government’s Working with China strategy, as well as outlining how the trade delegation I am currently leading will be engaging with Chinese business over the coming days. 

“I was also pleased to be able to invite State Councillor Yang to return to Scotland during our Year of Homecoming in 2014 in order that he can continue his appreciation of Scottish culture.”

Planning for new Girvan leisure facility well and truly underway

The final proposed designs for the new leisure and community facility at Girvan Harbour are being unveiled today (Monday) by South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Leisure as the planning process for the £8 million development gets officially underway.

The external designs – by architects Page\Park – propose creating an iconic landmark at the site of the former swimming pool, beach pavilion and existing parking area at Knockcushan Street in the South Ayrshire town.

The exciting designs give a flavour for what’s planned for the inside with proposals for the 3,425 square metre facility including:

• four-lane swimming pool and teaching pool, with associated viewing gallery
• children’s soft play area
• cafĂ©  
• community hall for theatre, cinema and other activities
• fitness suite
• rooftop viewing gallery with panoramic views towards Ailsa Craig and 
• civic space, parking and landscaping.

The start of the planning process also marks the beginning of a 12-week consultation period, which will give local people and interested parties the chance to have their say on the planning aspects of the proposals. 

This could include matters such as the impact of the new development on the immediate locality; the look and feel of the proposed development; the layout and design of the proposed development; and the various uses contained within the proposed development.

The consultation, which will run until late January, will include a public exhibition and drop-in sessions at Girvan Town House on 27 November as well as the opportunity to comment online, via a local newsletter and at community council meetings throughout South Carrick. 

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “This really is a milestone for the people of Girvan and marks the start of the formal process to turn the vision of a new leisure and community facility into a reality. I’m sure the designs and the progress of the proposals will create a real buzz in the town and I hope as many people as possible take the opportunity to get involved in the consultation.”

Andrew Sinclair, Chair of South Carrick Community Leisure, added: “We all know it’s been a long time coming but the important thing is for us to get the planning and design process right so that we can deliver a facility we can proud of – not just now – but for years to come. I’m really pleased with recent progress and delighted the planning process will give local people the chance to have their say on these final designs, which I have to say are truly impressive.

“The next task will be to focus on raising the £4 million investment required to match the Council funding so that we can get to work on the actual construction of the new facility as soon as possible.”

The public drop-in exhibition showing the plans, models and images of the proposed facility will be on display at the Town House, Knockcushan Street, Girvan between 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday 27 November 2013 and everyone is invited to attend and give their comments.

Comments can also be submitted online at, by email to or by phone on 01292 612704.

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

Sunday, 3 November 2013

First Minister convenes trade delegation in China

Mission will include high-level business discussions, speeches and government talks

First Minister Alex Salmond will arrive in Beijing today (Sunday) to convene a 30 company trade delegation focused on increasing trade in the oil and gas and construction sectors and deepening the friendship between Scotland and China. 


The First Minister will begin talks in the Chinese capital on Monday, meeting State Councillor Yang Jie Chi, the Chinese Government’s principal foreign minister, before undertaking a Scotland innovation showcase that will demonstrate Scotland’s expertise in a range of industry sectors. 

On Tuesday, Mr Salmond will carry out education talks with Hanban, the body responsible for promotion of Chinese learning and language teaching across the globe, before undertaking a keynote economic speech at Tsinghua University. During the Beijing leg of the visit, the First Minister and trade delegation will also hold senior-level industry talks with Chinese companies. 

The First Minister will then transfer to Hong Kong, undertaking a full day of business in the region on Wednesday that will include education research and development talks focused on life sciences and energy and meetings with energy industry representatives. 

The visit will conclude on Thursday with a keynote speech to the Financial Times International Financial Centers Forum, focused on financial services and Scotland’s place in the global economy. 

Speaking ahead of the visit, the First Minister said: “It is hugely important that, in an increasingly global economy, Scotland is able to engage with international economic giants such as China, identifying further opportunities for our innovative companies to export their expertise and high-quality products and drive sustainable economic growth at home.

“The trade mission I will convene in China this weekend will focus on two crucial industry sectors, with high-level government, education and trade talks examining opportunities for Scotland in the oil and gas and constructions sectors as well as wider opportunities around strengthening education links that are already bringing great benefits to both countries. 

“During the visit I will also promote the excellent food and drink produce that China already adores, with notable successes for Scottish salmon and Scotch whisky contributing to a hugely encouraging rise in overall exports to China from £265m to £498m, between 2007 and 2012.

“And I will deliver two keynote economic speeches, examining Scotland’s place in the world and the challenges nations in the east and west face in building a sustainable and balanced economic recovery.”

As well as Scottish Development International, the trade mission participants are:

Oil and gas: Adrok Group, Addax Petroleum UK Ltd, Aggreko Group, AMEC, Energy Services International, LFH Engineering, Nautronix, The Oil & Gas Academy of Scotland (OGAS), Petrofac, Safehouse Habitats, Unmanned Production Buoy Ltd, Aberdeen University, Universities Scotland.

Construction: Construction Scotland, Anderson Strathern, Thomas & Adamson, Applegreen Homes, BRE Scotland, Holmes Miller, China Britain Business Council Scotland, Nestus, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Barr & Wray. 

The visit helps meet the ambitions set out in the Scottish Government’s China Strategy to increase engagement with the world’s second largest economy and builds on recent successes that have seen exports from Scotland to China increase by 88 per cent, from £265m to £498m, between 2007 and 2012. 

At the same time as the First Minister’s visit, six Scottish companies will also attend the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo 2013 in Dalian where they will promote their produce at a Scottish Kitchen sponsored by Seafood Scotland and Scottish Development International. 

Far East markets accounted for around 2 per cent of fresh Scottish salmon exported in the years prior to 2011 when the Scottish Government secured a new import deal with the Chinese Government. This new deal followed on from the First Minister’s discussions with then Vice Premier Li KeQiang during his visit to Scotland in January 2011. 

Since then, the proportion of global sales going to the Far East has risen steadily, reaching 19 per cent in the first half of 2013 with a value of £37 million – with China (£20 million) accounting for more than half of total sales to the region in the first two quarters of this year.