The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 13 December 2013

Festive cheers for shop window display winners!

Provost Helen Moonie has presented prizes to four town centre retailers marking the annual Ayr Town Centre Shop Window Display Awards, supported and judged by the Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Ayr Guildry, Ayr Rotary Club and the Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.

This year the competition had a slightly different format, with three local shops receiving highly commended awards and one overall winner.

[Pictured receiving a Highly Commended award from Provost Helen Moonie were Lorraine Innes and Anne McClymont. Also pictured are Councillor Alan Dorans, Norman McLean and Olena Stewart from Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Michael Hitchon MBE, Dean of Ayr Guildry, Kevin Bell, President of Ayr Rotary Club and Robin White, President of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]

Pillar Box on Newmarket Street won the first Highly Commended trophy for a Christmas scene featuring a life-sized white reindeer. Pictured above receiving the award from Provost Moonie, on behalf of owner Rosemary Dorans, Lorraine Innes and Anne McClymont said: "We're delighted to have had the display recognised, and the glass trophy is already in pride of place next to our reindeer.

Also Highly Commended was a festive display in an empty shop window – put together by staff at the Reiker and Rogerson's shoe shops, on behalf of the Newmarket Street Traders Association.

[Pictured above: Provost Helen Moonie presents a Highly Commended award to Jen Todd (Reiker) and Sarah Ghee (Rogersons). Also pictured are Councillor Alan Dorans, Norman McLean and Olena Stewart from Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Michael Hitchon MBE, Dean of Ayr Guildry, Kevin Bell, President of Ayr Rotary Club and Robin White, President of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club and Malcolm Wilson of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]

Pictured above, Jen Todd of Reiker and Sarah Ghee of Rogersons (on behalf of Jane Gordon) received the award from Provost Moonie who said: "None of us likes to see an empty shop, but Jen and Jane made a special effort to make sure the window display was cheery and festive, cleverly turning a potential eye-sore into something eye catching.

[Pictured above: Linda Watt and Kathleen Wilson of Jools, receive a Highly Commended award from Provost Helen Moonie. Also pictured are Councillor Alan Dorans, Norman McLean and Olena Stewart from Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Michael Hitchon MBE, Dean of Ayr Guildry, Kevin Bell, President of Ayr Rotary Club and Robin White, President of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]

Just opposite this, Jools on Newmarket Street in Ayr won the third Highly Commended award and, pictured above presenting the trophy to Linda Watt on behalf of owner Linda Mitchell. Provost Moonie said: "Christmas is a special time of year and shopping is so much more festive and fun if local shops and retailers have an eye-catching display on show. The window at Jools looks superb!"

This year's winner of the Ayr Town Centre Shop Window Display Awards was Rotherwoods at Beresford Terrace, who completed two windows – one white festive living room and the other a light-hearted, fun scene featuring elves and Santa Claus, fast asleep in his comfy chair!

Provost Moonie said: "Rotherwoods are fully deserving of their win – the windows are fantastic and so much fun. They have been a real talking point in town and Santa's chair looks wonderfully comfortable. I hope he wakes up from his snooze in time to deliver the presents!"

[Pictured above: Winner of the Ayr Town Centre Shop Window Display competition was Rotherwoods, with Claire Bell, director, Karen Mitchell and Jocelyn Wilson receiving the trophy from Provost Moonie. Also pictured are Councillor Alan Dorans, Norman McLean and Olena Stewart from Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Michael Hitchon MBE, Dean of Ayr Guildry, Kevin Bell, President of Ayr Rotary Club and Robin White, President of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club and Malcolm Wilson of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]

Pictured above collecting the winning award from Provost Moonie were Alasdair and Claire Bell, directors, Karen Mitchell and Jocelyn Wilson. Claire said: "This is thrilling! We really wanted to do something special this year and worked hard to create the display, which was done to help raise some money for Clic Sargent.

"It's heartwarming when young children come into the shop with some pennies for the collection box and really does capture the festive spirit that giving is better than getting."

This year's judging panel consisted of Kevin Bell (Ayr Rotary Club), Robin White (Ayr and  Prestwick Lions Club), Michael Hitchon MBE (Dean of Ayr Guildry), Olena Stewart, Norman McLean of the Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council and they were joined by local councillor Allan Dorans.

Chair of the panel, Norman McLean added: "Ayr shops and retailers are the lifeblood of the town centre and it's especially pleasing when they take the time and effort to make their window displays look so festive.

"Not only does it give our town centre a bit of magical sparkle, it lifts the mood, is a bit of festive fun and captures shoppers' imaginations.

"On behalf of the judges, may I extend our sincere thanks and best wishes to all those who made that effort and wish our retailers, shoppers and visitors to the town a very Happy Christmas."

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

South Ayrshire Council website

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Festive message from Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council

The festive season for me is a time for reflection, considering progress over the year and looking at how we can do even better. This year, we’ve achieved so much.

In September, we launched our AMBITION enterprise and employment programme to support businesses, jobs, social enterprises and our local economy in a lasting way, changing lives and helping secure a great future for South Ayrshire.

More recently, the Scottish Government acquired Prestwick Airport, securing jobs and keeping the gateway to Ayrshire and Scotland well and truly open. I appreciate the hard work by our employees in the lead-up to this milestone, and we’ll continue to be involved as things move forward.

We’ve been making good progress on a number of fronts in 2013 - regenerating Ayr’s Lochside with a £9 million project; completing the Sailwest Project in Girvan; commissioning a new golf clubhouse at Belleisle; opening our Customer Service Centre  in Ayr; completing the modernisation of Forehill and Braehead primaries; starting work on a new Kirkmichael Primary; consulting on a new Ayr Academy; planning major changes to Marr College; and our school pupils achieving outstanding exam results once again.

We also hit two big milestones – the planning process for our new leisure facility in Girvan is now underway, working to make our vision a reality. Along with East Ayrshire Council, we established the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, which will be responsible for our roads service from April. This means a financial saving year-on-year while maintaining service levels and sharing best practice – a truly innovative approach for local government.

The way all organisations will deliver services is changing. We’ve played our part this year to shape older people’s services of the future, working with a range of organisations to deliver more support to older people where they need it − in their homes, helping them to remain independent longer.

With the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year, interest in sport has never been higher and we’ve been promoting and supporting inclusive sports activities for all. We hope the Games will leave a lasting legacy with more people participating in, and supporting sports at all levels, leading to better physical and mental health.

Our commitment to arts and culture within our schools and communities has stayed strong and we’ve been working closely with South Ayrshire Arts Partnership to ensure we deliver a vibrant arts and culture programme for residents and visitors alike.

Welfare reform has been a big news story this year and it’s a major challenge for Councils. We’re doing all we can to provide co-ordinated and comprehensive support  where it’s needed most, and we’ll continue this in 2014.

I’ve spent time recently visiting businesses across South Ayrshire and am encouraged at the success stories and upbeat attitudes despite the difficult economic climate. Breathing new life into our towns is important and we’re making significant headway with the appointment of new town centre officers and a huge amount of positive partnership working.

A priority at the moment is our budget – we estimate we will need to save £22 million over the next three years, while maintaining the services our communities need. This is no mean feat, but our record of sound financial management stands us in good stead as we move forward.

However, for now, let’s concentrate on the festive season − a time for celebration, spending time with family, friends and neighbours. Although for many, it’s business as usual. So, please spare a thought for everyone who will be working to deliver vital services while most of us are taking time off and relaxing.

Please also remember the vulnerable, frail or elderly in our communities who may need a bit more support at this time of year. Think about how you can help and make a real difference to them.

Most of all, have a peaceful Christmas and a healthy and contented New Year.

Bill McIntosh
Leader of South Ayrshire Council

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Scottish independence can meet economic challenges

Scotland’s economy will benefit from independence over the uncertainty that would face the country within the UK, Finance Secretary John Swinney said today. 

Speaking at the first annual Policy Scotland lecture at Glasgow University Mr Swinney (pictured above) said that Scotland’s economic performance has improved significantly since 1999, with Scotland reaching similar levels of productivity and earnings to the rest of the UK. He added that independence provides the opportunity to go further by creating more jobs.

Mr Swinney said that where Scotland’s Future addresses the challenges facing the Scottish Economy – the unequal and imbalanced structure of the UK is holding Scotland back.

The Finance Secretary said: “In Scotland’s Future people now have a vision of how independence will work and of what independence can offer.

“Scotland’s Future identifies the challenges Scotland face if our economy is to compete with the most dynamic economies in the world and if we are to increase levels of equality and participation at home.

“But where Scotland’s Future shows how the tools of independence can be used to meet those challenges, those opposed to independence have yet to say how remaining in a state as economically imbalanced as the UK can benefit Scotland.”

In his speech Mr Swinney highlighted the success already delivered with devolution and the benefits independence can bring: “With the limited powers of devolution, we have already seen an improved performance across a range of key economic indicators, both in absolute terms and relative to the rest of the UK.

“Since 1999 productivity has increased to match UK levels, full-time weekly pay has increased from 5 per cent below UK levels to within 2 per cent and Scotland’s employment rate has moved from a position of 2.4 percentage points below the UK to 1.0 percentage point higher in 2013.

“There is therefore good evidence that taking decisions in Scotland works.

“Through the transfer of additional powers, future Scottish governments could create a genuinely appropriate set of complementary policies - whether in relation to taxation, innovation, labour market regulation or industrial policy. 

“We can create prosperity through a genuine social partnership between business, the public sector, trade unions, the third sector and universities, and distribute that wealth more fairly and more equally than it is at present. 

“A country of Scotland’s size is well placed to build consensus in the key strategic areas and deliver policy which best meets the needs of the Scottish economy and Scottish business.”

Monday, 9 December 2013

Expectations for house price growth continue to rise in Scotland

Expectations for future house price growth in Scotland continued to rise during November as the amount of homes coming onto the country’s market, once again, fell well short of rapidly rising buyer demand, according to the November 2013 survey released by RICS Scotland (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).

52 percent more chartered surveyors across Scotland predict prices to continue their upward trend rather than fall back over the coming three months. This is the highest reading since July 2007 and demonstrates the impact that the recovery in demand, together with limited supply, is having on the housing market. 

Meanwhile, last month saw prices remain steady, with a net balance of 42 percent more respondents reporting price growth in Scotland. Significantly, each region of the United Kingdom saw prices rise for the second successive month. While there are still some areas of the UK that are struggling, it appears that, on the whole, the UK markets are now responding to the  incentives provided by governments and better economic news.  

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “It’s no secret that the housing market is on the way up and prices are rising in many parts of Scotland. We are still very concerned about the lack of both new and existing homes coming on to the market. This issue is one of many which the Scottish Housing Commission, launched by RICS Scotland earlier this year, will seek to address and we will publish our report findings in early 2014.”

Looking ahead, with the economic recovery gaining traction across Scotland, predictions for the rate of increase in future transaction levels hit a record level. A net balance of 78 percent of surveyors expect sales levels to increase as we head into the New Year, assisted, in part, by the Scottish Government’s Help to Buy. 

Rory Ballantyne MRICS, Ballantynes Edinburgh, commented: “The recent Help to Buy announcements have continued to boost buyer confidence in the Scottish housing market, with sales volumes up significantly across both our established homes and new build developments.”