The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 14 February 2015


ALL Ayrshire business people are cordially invited to attend the next Elite Ayrshire Business Circle open (FREE) business breakfast networking meeting, which will take place at 8am (sharp) on Friday 6 March at NATS Prestwick.

NATS is the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services. Each year it handles 2.2 million flights and 220 million passengers in UK airspace.

In addition to providing services to 15 UK airports, it works in more than 30 countries around the world spanning Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America.

NATS provides air traffic navigation services to aircraft flying through UK controlled airspace and at numerous UK and international airports. 

So how does it move over 6,000 flights every day through busy skies around the world safely and efficiently?

We’ll be finding out on Friday 6 March.


Also on the menu at this meeting is a presentation by Eddie Allison (pictured below).

After 37 years in the aviation industry, Eddie is setting up a new company, Advanced Aerial Media Ltd. The new company will be using Small Unmanned Aircraft (drones) in order to provide video photography services,

Some of the demonstration videos that Eddie has already produced with the use of his drones have been uploaded to YouTube, and can be viewed HERE.


A complimentary buffet breakfast will be provided – please advise of any special dietary requirements.


Naturally, security is of paramount importance at NATS Prestwick. You will be unable to gain admittance to the premises unless you have given prior written notice of your intention to attend by e-mail to Murdoch MacDonald at:

Also, in order to gain admittance on the day, photo ID (e.g. passport) must be carried and produced on request. 

Finally, it will help accelerate the process of admittance on the day if members and guests notify in advance the registration number of the car in which they will be travelling to the meeting.

This meeting is scheduled to end by 10am.


[Photos of Eddie Allison by Alister Firth Photography.]

Thursday, 12 February 2015

An alternative to austerity

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sets out 
plan to put fairness at the heart of economic growth

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out an alternative plan to tackle the economic deficit, by putting fairness at the heart of economic growth, increasing investment and maximising the skills of Scotland’s population. 

In a major economic speech at University College London, the First Minister (pictured above) said there should be no “trade off” between reducing the deficit and having a fairer society, with a clear link between economic growth and reducing inequality. 

Ms Sturgeon highlighted how successful economic policies such as gender equality and the living wage “have a sense of fairness at their heart” and help grow the economy by ensuring that Scotland maximises the skill and innovation of all its people. 

The First Minister set out an alternative to austerity, and said that real term increases in government department spending, limited to half a per cent each year, would see debt reduce as a share of GDP over four years, but allow a further £180 billion investment in infrastructure, skills and education to further boost the economy. 

The First Minister also renewed her calls to scrap the renewal of Trident, with the £100bn savings over the next 35 years to be invested back into public services. 

The First Minister said: “The Scottish Government has balanced its budget every single year and that’s something which has required genuinely tough decisions. But by and large, we’ve carried people with us because the policies we’ve adopted have clearly had a sense of fairness at their heart. 

“In terms of the UK economy, we believe that debt and the deficit should be reduced as a percentage of GDP but more gradually than either of the largest UK parties is proposing. 

“For example, if you limited real terms growth in departmental spending to half a per cent each year it would reduce debt as a share of GDP in every year from 2016-17. But it would also permit a further £180 billion of investment across the UK over the next four years. 

“We could protect the infrastructure, education and innovation which will support sustainable growth. And we could take a different approach to the crude cuts that reduce work incentives and impact directly on disabled people and families with children. We could manage the deficit down, without destroying the social fabric. 

“We could also release savings through some more straightforward choices. Deciding not to renew Trident, for example, would save around £100bn, at 2012 prices, over the next 35 years. That is money that could be - and should be - invested instead in health and education.

“By taking a different approach - by offering an alternative to the austerity agenda - we would ensure that fiscal consolidation is consistent with a wider vision of society. A society which strives to become more equal, as part of becoming more prosperous. 

“We simply don’t accept that there’s a trade-off between balancing the books and having a balanced society; fairness and prosperity can go hand in hand. It’s basic common sense that as a society, we will do better if we can benefit from the skill, talent and innovation of all of our people.

"But there are other reasons too. Higher incomes would increase demand and boost the revenues needed for investment in infrastructure and education. More equal economies are more resilient and less likely to depend on borrowing and credit.” 

The First Minister continued: “But one thing we’re already very clear on, is that we see the private sector as being an essential partner in all of this. They are not only vital to but will also benefit hugely from helping to build a fairer society. And so we’re also encouraging and supporting business to contribute to a fairer society – because that’s clearly in their own best interests.

“Gender equality is a good example of that. The Scottish Government is leading by example – the Scottish Cabinet is one of only three in the developed world to have a 50/50 gender split. But we’re also launching a major drive – called 50/50 by 2020 – to encourage gender equality in public, private and third sector boardrooms. 

“And we have a clear focus on the quality of work – people’s experience in the workplace. The Scottish Government already pays the living wage to all our employees; and we’re using procurement policy, where we can, to encourage its use in all public sector contracts. Now we are funding the Poverty Alliance to run a scheme for accrediting living wage employers. 

“Essentially, we are appealing to companies’ sense of enlightened self-interest. In doing so, we are encouraging them to commit to good business practices - such as innovation or internationalisation - and to good employment practices; such as the living wage, gender equality or supporting workforce engagement. 

“So we will make the case for a more rational economic policy at Westminster. And we will use the powers we have in the Scottish Parliament to pursue a different approach; one based on partnership, fairness and prosperity.”

Ayrshire sports facilities get defibrillators

Visitors to South Ayrshire Council sport and leisure facilities will soon have access to new lifesaving defibrillators, thanks to investment of £12,000.

Sixteen defibrillators are to be installed in all Council sport, leisure and golf sites – with staff trained and ready to use them from 1 April this year.

[Pictured left to right: Councillor Allan Doran; Councillor Bill Grant, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder; and Campbell Petticrew, Leisure Attendant with a defibrillator resuscitation trainer.] 

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of premature death, but with immediate defibrillator treatment, many lives can be saved.

Councillor Bill Grant, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for the Council said: “We know the difference having this equipment on site can make and we know it’s something our communities have been looking for. I’m delighted this lifesaving equipment will be available in every Council sport, leisure and golf facility.

“There’s no doubt that defibrillators can save lives and, while we hope there’s never a need to use them, their availability provides a significant degree of comfort, confidence and reassurance for our customers.

“Our staff will be fully trained to use the equipment when needed, giving people who experience cardiac arrests the best chance of survival until paramedics or other trained medical staff can attend to them.”

[Pictured; South Ayrshire Council Leisure Attendants Scott Beattie (left) and Aidan Keenan (right) check out a defibrillator poolside at the Citadel Leisure Centre in Ayr.]

Defibrillators can resolve an irregular heart rhythm what most of us know as a cardiac arrest, when there is a sudden problem with the heart function. When the heart loses its normal rhythm it is unable to generate blood pressure and without that the brain soon shuts down. This is where the defibrillator can help.

Councillor Grant concluded: “The defibrillators are a new and welcome dimension to our customer care. After cardiac arrest, time is of the essence and having   access to a defibrillator will make sure every second counts.”

Defibrillators will be installed in: 

Citadel Leisure Centre
Maybole Swimming Pool
Prestwick Swimming Pool
Troon Swimming Pool
Coylton Activity Centre
Muirhead Activity Centre
Dundonald Activity Centre
Mossblown Activity Centre
Whitletts Activity Centre 
Belleisle Seafield Golf Course
Dalmilling Golf Course
Troon Lochgreen/Fullarton/Darley Golf Course
Maybole Golf Course
Girvan Golf Course 
Northfield Bowling Club 
Dam Park Stadium

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

Scotland and Northern Ireland outperform rest of UK housing market

RICS UK Residential Market Survey, January 2015

Scotland and Northern Ireland’s housing market outperformed the rest of the UK in January, with more buyer enquiries, stronger price growth and higher confidence in  outlook, according to the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey. 

[Pictured:Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland,]

While nationally, the number of potential new buyer enquiries fell for the seventh consecutive month, Scotland saw the greatest buyer interest with several respondents suggesting the new Land and Building’s Transaction Tax (LBTT) will prompt more first time buyers to get on the property ladder. 

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s housing market witnessed the strongest price momentum for the fifth consecutive month, with 47% more respondents reporting increases in prices. However, the national results, which are based on England and Wales only, continue to signal a cooling market and price growth has all but levelled off with just 2% more surveyors expecting prices to increase over the next three months (its slowest pace since May 2013). 

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “The changes to Stamp Duty and pending introduction of LBTT in Scotland are, to varying degrees, providing an incentive to first time buyers, but there remain a number of challenges to market, such as ongoing affordability constraints, lack of stock and an air of caution in the run up to the general election. 

“Overall, while the RICS lead indicators suggest the level of housebuilding looks set to increase over the course of 2015, the volume of home starts will still fall considerably short of the number of new households being formed, let alone making a dent in the historic shortfall of housing across all tenures.” 

Within England, London market conditions continue to deteriorate with prices, buyer enquiries and sales falling. The latest data shows 49% more respondents saw prices in the capital decline and the short-term confidence outlook is negative, despite the longer terms sales outlook being more upbeat. 

Thomas Baird MRICS, Select Surveyors Ltd, Glasgow, commented: “We are optimistic that 2015 will show continuing signs of recovery in the residential market and January has already seen a positive number of home report instructions.”

In the lettings market a net balance of 10% more respondents reported a further rise in tenant demand in Scotland during the three months to January, while supply appears to be dipping once again.

Across the UK, despite a month in which mortgage approvals fall to their one of their lowest levels, the number of agreed sales showed a slight increase in January (up from 19.1 to 19.7) and the 12 month member forecast is more optimistic around activity levels with 48% of surveyors still expecting sales to rise.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Earth Hour Award for South Ayrshire Council

Ahead of WWF’s annual Earth Hour on Saturday 28 March 2015, South Ayrshire Council is celebrating after being named as joint winner, along with Highland Council, of the WWF’s Earth Hour Local Authority Champion for 2014. 

[Pictured: The WWF Panda joins in the fun as Councillor John McDowall, Sustainability and Environment Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council accepts the award from Paul McMillan, WWF Earth Hour Co-ordinator.]

WWF’s Earth Hour is a global event and last year saw hundreds of millions of people around the world take part to raise awareness of climate change.

The award recognises the Earth Hour activities in 2014 arranged by the Council, including switching off feature lighting on many the area’s most iconic landmarks, a ghost walk around Ayr, golfing in the dark at Troon and a cycle around Ayr. Employees, partners, community groups and local businesses across South Ayrshire all signed up to switch off and support Earth Hour.   

Councillor John McDowall, Sustainability and Environment Portfolio Holder for the Council,  accepted the award from Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland. 

Speaking about the award Councillor McDowall said: “This is the third year in a row South Ayrshire Council has been given this award for its commitment to Earth Hour.

“I would like to thank everyone in South Ayrshire who took part. The way people embrace the activities shows that the people of South Ayrshire recognise the challenge that a changing climate poses to our planet.

“Every year people celebrate Earth Hour in different ways, by switching off lights, attending organised events, holding Earth Hour parties or looking at ways that they can save energy all year round.

"This year, we'd like to see more people than ever before in South Ayrshire make their own champion effort to switch lights off for an hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on 28 March 2015.”

Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland, said: “In naming South Ayrshire Council our joint Earth Hour Champions for the third year running, I’m absolutely delighted to be able to recognise the ongoing and fantastic commitment of the Council and its residents to protecting our brilliant planet. We look forward to working with our three-times crowned Champions for Earth Hour 2015.”

This year's Earth Hour will take place on Saturday 28 March 2015. It is a powerful way to highlight that climate change is one of the most serious threats to our planet. 

Plans are already under way in South Ayrshire for activities to support this year’s Earth Hour and encourage people to get involved, so watch out for further information.

If you would like to learn more about Earth Hour 2015 go to

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

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle to hold next meeting at NATS Prestwick

The next business breakfast networking meeting of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle will take place at 8am on Friday 6 March at NATS Prestwick. 

Please note that prior notice of intention to attend must be given, and, in order to gain admittance on the day, photo ID (eg passport) must be carried. 

Also, it will help accelerate the process of admittance on the day if members and guests notify in advance the registration number of the car in which they will be travelling to the meeting.