The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 19 January 2018

Councils tell Secretary of State: Ayrshire matters!

The political leaders of East, North and South Ayrshire Councils have pressed the UK Government to make the Ayrshire Growth Deal a priority this year at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Scotland, The Rt Hon David Mundell MP.

Councillors Douglas Reid, Joe Cullinane and Douglas Campbell delivered the ‘Ayrshire matters’ message at their first joint meeting of 2018 and urged the Secretary of State to take the message back to his Westminster colleagues.

The purpose of the Ayrshire Growth Deal is to provide a focus for targeted investment – coordinated through a series of identified projects including aerospace, life sciences and manufacturing – that build on Ayrshire’s strengths, increase employment and prosperity and boost the economy at local, Scottish and UK levels.

Funding support of more than £350 million is being sought from the UK and Scottish Governments for the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

South Ayrshire Council Leader Councillor Douglas Campbell, who hosted the meeting at the Council’s headquarters in Ayr, said the meeting with the Secretary of State had been frank and constructive. He added: “As part of our wider efforts to boost economic growth, the Ayrshire Growth Deal has a vital role to play and the Secretary of State and his parliamentary colleagues have the power to make that happen.

“This was a useful opportunity, following the Autumn Budget, to remind Mr Mundell of why Ayrshire needs a Growth Deal and the potential benefits that Deal could bring – not just to Ayrshire, but to the whole of the UK. We made it clear to Mr Mundell that Ayrshire matters and we will continue to make that case until we get the necessary funding commitments.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “Ayrshire is a great example of the invaluable contribution non-city regions can make to the national economy and we’re looking to the Secretary of State to help us turn our ambitions into a reality. It was particularly helpful to have the discussion with Mr Mundell the day after a very successful Business Breakfast in Kilmarnock where businesses across Ayrshire pledged their support for Ayrshire growth.

“The Growth Deal is something that both the public and private sectors want to happen and we very much welcome the support of our businesses to further our case with our elected politicians.”

Councillor Joe Cullinane added: “While we’re seeing progress in some of our Ayrshire Growth Deal projects, we do need the support of our government colleagues to allow us to get this transformational programme of work underway in a meaningful sense and that message was certainly made loud and clear to the Secretary of State.

“We have all invested resources and time into driving this work forward and we want to have the opportunity to build on that momentum in partnership with Westminster and Holyrood to deliver the change our communities deserve and our economy needs. This is the year we must make that happen.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “I had a productive meeting with Ayrshire’s three councils. The UK Government is driving forward an ambitious Industrial Strategy, and I want to ensure Ayrshire shares in the UK’s economic growth. By working closely with the councils, the Scottish Government and businesses, we can help Ayrshire achieve its economic potential, boosting jobs and prosperity.”

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Businesses pledge support to Ayrshire Growth at breakfast

A host of local firms signed the Ayrshire Growth Pledge at a business breakfast event last week. They were showing their support and standing shoulder to shoulder with the team seeking to transform the Ayrshire economy.

The event, held at the Ayrshire College Campus in Kilmarnock, saw the Ayrshire Growth team outline their plans – and how a single Ayrshire economic agency will drive these ambitious proposals.

The Ayrshire Growth Deal team is targeting over £350 million of funding from the Scottish and UK governments to develop a number of projects across the region.

And they were joined at the event by global companies such as GSK, UPM, BAE Systems, Prestwick Airport Spaceport Project and local businesses such as Taste of Arran and Simpsinns.

They ended the morning by signing the Ayrshire Growth Pledge.

It states: As Advocates for Ayrshire Growth we are committed to working together to deliver a successful, inclusive and confident Ayrshire economy.

By signing the Ayrshire Growth Pledge, businesses have vowed to support Ayrshire as a vibrant and attractive business destination, participate in regular business and economic development events and fundamentally help Ayrshire grow.

Richard Jenner, Spaceport Director for Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, said: “The business breakfast was a huge success and it was extremely encouraging to see everyone all behind the ambitious plans for Ayrshire. I was proud to sign the Ayrshire Growth Pledge on behalf of Glasgow Prestwick Airport. 

“We all have our individual interests, but collectively we all want a stronger and more vibrant Ayrshire. By working together, we will get there.” 

Malcolm Simpson, of Ayrshire hospitality group Simpsinns, said: “Ayrshire is a fantastic place to invest and do business and myself and everyone at Simpsinns are totally behind the plans for the Ayrshire economy. There seems to be a real determination from the public and private sector to make change happen.

“It’s great that the three Councils are working so closely together. As a business we don’t see the boundaries. We see Ayrshire in its entirety and it’s fantastic that this joined-up approach for the whole of Ayrshire is taking shape. 

"I was delighted to learn even more about the plans at the breakfast and even more encouraged that there are exciting times ahead."

South Ayrshire Council chief executive Eileen Howat gave an update on the Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals.

She added: “While it was disappointing not to get a firm commitment from the UK Government in the Budget in November, there has been a lot of positive feedback and cross-party support from Westminster that confirms our proposals have merit and will make a real difference for people and communities across Ayrshire.

“We will continue to make the case for Ayrshire, lobby and push for the necessary support and we remain confident that our ambitious Ayrshire Growth Deal will come to fruition. This event marks a new chapter and with the backing of prominent local businesses, we will deliver on our common goal of making Ayrshire stronger and more successful than ever.”

North Ayrshire Council chief executive Elma Murray said: “This has been an important stage in building a strong business consensus for the Ayrshire Growth Deal and a different way of working.

“A lot of positive work has been done and there is a real desire from Ayrshire businesses to move faster and to be bolder.

“There is a recognition by the Scottish and UK Governments that the traditional approaches aren’t working.  We need to take an inclusive approach to creating growth.   It’s about us saying we have massive potential and huge assets right here in Ayrshire, which can provide growth for the Scottish and UK economies.

“Signing the Ayrshire Growth Pledge demonstrates the determination and will for this to happen across both the public and private sectors.

East Ayrshire Council chief executive Fiona Lees, outlined the timetable for the new Ayrshire economic partnership. A shadow body is expected to be in place by April this year, with it to be fully operational with a confirmed structure by April 2019.

Ms Lees added: “A regional partnership would help us create pace and get traction around our resources. 

“It will be a fundamental shift in the way we operate. We will be co-ordinating council and national agency resources to get the best out of them and to ensure we have a one-door approach for businesses. 

“But we must emphasise that the support of our private sector partners is hugely important. That’s why we’re delighted to see so many here today.”

Sunday, 14 January 2018

West Coast Foods opens newly refurbished butcher shop in Prestwick Main Street

Innovative Scottish food manufacturer and exporter West Coast Foods has re-opened its principal outlet at 27 Main Street, Prestwick following a five-figure refurbishment.

With a fresh cool grey look, new signage, the incorporation of four new 43” LCD advertising screens, back-lit signage and new glass and air-conditioning units, the shop’s owner, Gareth Downie, is determined to maintain the West Coast Foods’ outlet as a jewel on the local high street.

He said: “Our last rebrand was in 2012 and I wanted to do our bit in helping Prestwick punch above its weight as an attractive retail destination which continues to attract visitors from other parts of Scotland.

“The retail sector is always evolving and it’s vital, in my opinion, to give customers a bright and welcoming environment as well, of course, as great service and fresh, Ayrshire, quality produce if you want to hold onto their business.

“Prestwick has had two banks closures in 2017 and another bank is due to close which has had a negative impact on a very busy high street. We understand that there is to be Costa Coffee opening one door along and we hope that will help boost our customer numbers.”

Local sign company Owen Kerr installed the new signage, while all design and refurbishment work was undertaken by Downie Developments.

West Coast Foods has a turnover of £1 million and employs 15 people at its shop and at its manufacturing base in Ayr.